Helen Wang is the co-founder and CEO of 6Crickets, a platform that provides the much-needed technical infrastructure for children’s enrichment activities. 6Crickets was launched in 2015 and has now successfully expanded their platform to a national level. Today they’re a 14 person team headquartered in Seattle, WA.
Tell us a little about 6Crickets? What inspired you to start the company?
A few years ago when my kids became old enough to take interest in activities, I learned very quickly that the tools to find them were lacking. We can Uber a car, get food delivered but we haven’t found a good way to connect parents to programs (and vice versa) using technology. Parents are often pulling their hair trying to make this happen for their kids. It’s an industry that is underinvested in — this inspired me to start 6Crickets.
Children are in school 1000 hours and parents work 2000 hours a year. Doing the math you can see that half the time that parents are working, children have no school or parental time. This speaks to the magnitude of the problem. So it’s important to find the same amount of enrichment hours for children outside school. In my research I also found that all these enrichment and after school programs are so creative — covering everything from programming to carpentry and everything in between. This made me realize that this industry could be a really great space to make a difference.
How is 6Crickets making a difference?
6Crickets is removing the frustration that comes from the missing 1000 hours. We’re not only tackling a problem that’s near and dear to parents, but for providers like schools and after-school programs. Our marketplace gives parents a one stop shop engine that connects them to programs – think of it as a scheduler and booking service – without the hassle of separate searches, logins, payments, etc. On the other hand, the platform also gives activity providers, schools and PTAs a free online registration and CRM tool to help streamline their operations and marketing.
What are some challenges you’ve faced?
Initially we started with the online marketplace first, mostly because as parents ourselves that’s the need that we saw. But we quickly realized that because there’s two sides to the market we needed to better understand how to bootstrap it. First year we focused on building the marketplace and second year we focused on provider support. This year we’ve been focused on school enrichment programs — by helping the school volunteers, principal or PTA with the platform to organize programs more systematically and efficiently. Basically the more we grew, the more we realized we needed to expand the product.
What’s been your biggest win?
We’ve seen exponential growth: 79% over a quarterly basis. That’s about a 5% weekly growth rate. Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator, has said that a good weekly growth rate should be 5-7% — and we’ve sustained this for two years which has been incredible Our team has worked very hard to understand customer needs and incorporating that feedback, which has lead to this amazing growth.
Who is your role model?
Elon Musk is an inspiration. When it comes to electric cars he understands what is inevitable for the future. He took it on with strong determination and hard work. Another inspiration is Alexander Hamilton. I absolutely love how Lin-Manuel Miranda introduced us to a person in history who accomplished so much, including building the nation’s financial system. The common themes between the two are: working like there’s no tomorrow and having perseverance — it’s key to growth and building a company from ground up.
What has your experience been with FFA?
It has been amazing — such a great group. I’ve experience quite a bit of difficulty raising financing and being a woman founder I realized we need organizations like FFA to bind us together and help us be stronger together. The FFA has been awesome with that support and guidance that I had been looking for.