In this episode, Legislate meets Charlie Rosier, co-founder of Babbu, a digital platform which gives parents the tools and resources to run a nursery from anywhere. Charlie shares how Babbu is democratising early years education and why you shouldn't rely solely on online templates.
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Charles Brecque: Welcome to the Legislate podcast, a place to learn about the latest insights and trends in property technology, business, building, and contract drafting. Today, I'm excited to have Charlie Rosier on the show. Co-founder and CEO of Babbu, the world's first digital nursery. Babbu is an educational technology platform for parents and carers of children between zero and five years.
Charlie, welcome to the show. Would you like to introduce yourself and share a bit of background about Babbu?
Charlie Rosier: Thank you so much for having me, you've basically just done my intro for me. But to expand on that a little bit I am a mother of one. And it was really my daughter that got me into early years education.
So being self-employed now for nearly 14 years. When I had a child, it was the first time I even obviously had to think about childcare and in doing so quickly realised the cost of it and also the issues around flexibility in the UK childcare system. So I just decided to open up my own nursery.
Which I did. And that was fantastic because we had a nursery with a co-working space, which allowed parents to bring their children from as little as six weeks old. And they could really be involved in their child's life as well as focus on their career. So the whole idea was that you don't have to sacrifice one for the other.
But long story short, that business has evolved now into being a digital nursery, as you mentioned. So the idea is we give parents the tools and resources to run a nursery from anywhere and really the big problem as I see it is that the majority of children under three years old do not attend a formal childcare setting, so do not have the benefit of structured learning and development opportunities in the early years.
And yet those first few years of a child's life are the most important for setting the foundations for future success. So yeah that's the long way around how we came to starting Babbu.
Charles Brecque: a fascinating story. And not a problem that I can relate to yet but I hopefully will, one day. So in this year what's been your favourite moment?
Charlie Rosier: There have been so many and, it is tough as you all know, being a a founder in a CEO and building a business from scratch. It's long hours and can be very lonely.
There've been some amazing things that have happened this year and some big things which makes that battle worth it if you like. One of them was, we were shortlisted for tech impact award at London tech week. I actually did a podcast with Tom Blomfield who was the co-founder and CEO of Monzo, which was great and super insightful.
We are in January, starting London and partners accelerator, which is specifically focused on impact businesses aligned with the UN sustainable development goals. And the list goes on.of high-level things that we've achieved and accolades, but I guess the best bit on a day-to-day basis is really working alongside Jane, who is my head of education and who I've known for five years and creating all the content for the platform.
She's amazing. A total natural in front of the camera and seeing her play and interact with children is super heartwarming. And one of the best bits of my job, I think.
Charles Brecque: That's great. If I was a Babbu user, what type of content could I expect to find on the platform and how would I interact with it?
Charlie Rosier: So the app is currently modelled as a subscription base. For a small cost per month, a fraction of nursery fees you get delivered tailored content for both you and your child. The content for the child is activities that you can do at home using resources around the house and based on the EYFS.
Which is the UK curriculum for children under five. So it covers seven areas of learning, but what's really smart and what I think is one of our best features is the fact that the content is really personalised and the more you engage with the app, the better that content becomes because it learns from you and learns about your child as you go.
And then there's content as well and a kind of community of experts so anything from sleep and nutrition through to mental health behaviour, difficulties, autism, so a parent or user can call an expert. So part of it is making early education accessible and the other part of it is making advice, expertise accessible because again it's very challenging to navigate things like the NHS.
When you have a concern about your child's development, be it speech and language or other issues. Yeah, so that's how it works. Simple.
Charles Brecque: Great. Simple is essential today. You've been self-employed for quite a long time, but started Babbu more recently. What do you wish you'd known before starting Babbu?
Charlie Rosier: You're absolutely right. This is not my kind of first rodeo. This is actually my fourth business for my sins. And I should know that there are never enough hours in the day, especially when you have a young child at home. I really struggle with the time it takes and maybe it's because I'm a very impatient person or maybe it just takes time to build a robust piece of software.
But yeah, I wish I had more time.
Charles Brecque: I definitely can relate to that problem. Building robust software is really difficult. Especially if you are building a consumer facing app where everyone has a different phone, different device connecting to different internet connections, then there will always be lots of surprises that you just need to react quickly to. Absolutely. So yeah where do you see yourself and Babbu in three to five years, what's the long-term vision?
Charlie Rosier: Our vision is evolving at the time or certainly has evolved over the last 12 months. Our mission has remained the same, which is very much to democratize access to early years education. But the vision for the platform has changed as I mentioned. So the name actually comes from a nickname I used to call my daughter, which was my little Babbu. But actually we also liked the sound of baby and you and the play of words. And as I said it's evolved in the last 12 months to be less, not less about the child, but more about both of you baby and you and supporting the parent on that journey over the first five years, as well as the child.
And I guess our vision. Kind of at a high level is really what Headspace has done for mental health and making that accessible and understandable. We really want to do for early years education.
Charles Brecque: That's a great mission. In your many years of being an entrepreneur I imagine you've interacted with legal and contracts quite a bit today. What are the key contracts that you interact with the most frequently?
Charlie Rosier: So actually did my undergraduate in law. So you think that I would find it easier than others, but as I mentioned to you just before we jumped onto this podcast, it's a real cost that sometimes feels unnecessary in a startup world.
You only have raised so much money and there's so much you want to do with it. And most of all, it's going to growing the business and acquiring customers or building out the team or investing into your technology. And the legal stuff just sometimes feels a cost that you could circumnavigate.
There is so much available online, kind of template this template that, but I've definitely made the error in the past of relying on those and got into trouble with it. I'm investing in lawyers this time round and generally I'm trying to do everything a bit better than I've done it in previous businesses.
But I guess for me at the moment, the main ones I'm involved in, are the shareholders agreements. Our contract with the experts on our platform. And also SLA service level agreements with our various third party providers. Be it, the tech development team or others that we interact with on a daily basis.
Charles Brecque: I've been fortunate to start Legislate with a solicitor, but I can definitely relate to that. The previous startup I worked for using templates and even if you use a template which has been approved by a solicitor, if it was approved a couple of years ago, it might already be too late.
With those templates that you work with, or, the contracts that you work with now are there any common patterns or areas of friction. That you still face today, even with solicitors or with whatever tools that you're using that you want to overcome, or are there any general insights that you can share with the community?
Charlie Rosier: Yeah, I had feedback from somebody this morning on a contract and their first point in their email was please, can you ask a solicitor to provide red line documents so we can track changes? Cause I'm having to look at one previous agreement and look at the other one to see whether something else has been slipped in.
And I guess that's one obvious one that everyone should do. But the other thing is I think tracking key clauses within a contract and seeing how each relates to each other. And how something at one level could have a knock on effect on another clause later in the contract.
Charles Brecque: It's funny, you mentioned connecting clauses together because it is fundamental to Legislate’s approach which is to connect the clauses together with the knowledge graph which is the same way that Google connects the information on the web and can infer relationships by modelling concepts. So at Legislate what we're trying to do is. Model clauses and say these clauses are connected, but also then say these clauses are compatible with each other or these clauses aren't. So that no matter what contract you end up with on Legislate, it makes sense, both from a logical and legal perspective, because we know how things are connected.
So there can't be any inconsistencies between the clauses. And we don't believe in red lines simply because they're not easy to read and our target audience aren't lawyers, but we keep track of changes with a ledger of all changes effectively, so luckily I haven't seen red lines in a long time.
Charles Brecque: We've already taken a lot of your time. So I'm going to ask you the closing question we ask all our guests, if you were being sent a contract to sign today, what would impress you?
Charlie Rosier: That's a tricky one. I guess the main way that I get sent contracts is when they're ready for signatures obviously via DocuSign otherwise, they just go to and fro on email. I guess as to the previous point, if there was a platform where you could easily have all parties Commenting within the platform on the document rather than in a long email chain and see those changes in real life and track them and understand as you say, how they interact with each other, that would be really great. And obviously if it was cost efficient, that would obviously be perfect.
Charles Brecque: it sounds like you've described Legislate.
Charlie Rosier: What's my podcast discount?
Charles Brecque: Thank you very much Charlie for being on the show and best of luck growing Babbu
Charlie Rosier: Thank you so much and have a wonderful Christmas and best of luck with your business next year!
Charles Brecque: You too. Goodbye.