When entrepreneur Simon Ho became a father 23 years ago, he quickly became aware just how important high quality and well managed child care was to working parents. His daughter Cassie was born with a congenital liver disorder called Biliary Atresia with no known cure. At six weeks old, she needed a major medical procedure to survive. Ho’s wife stayed home to take care of their daughter for the first two years. After Cassie’s health stabilized, the family made the decision to put her into childcare so she could socialize with other children and his wife could return to work.
Through the extra deliberate search for the right child care that could accommodate a child with a chronic health condition, he discovered how much technology was lacking in the industry. This sparked further research which eventually led to a decision to leave a senior consulting position and launch a startup to develop technology that could deliver peace of mind to parents like Ho and all those involved in the industry of childcare. At age 13, Cassie ultimately needed a liver transplant in which Ho was the living liver donor. Ho reminisced, “While mom gave birth to her first-born Cassie, I am so thankful that I was able to give her a second chance in life through a successful living liver transplantation.”
“Back in early 2000, childcare software was all desktop based with siloed back office functions and limited consumer facing interfaces.” Ho explains. He noticed a gap in the market and saw the potential for a cloud-based software that could fundamentally change how software could be developed, delivered and supported in the childcare industry. This realization would be the birth of the 1Core Solution idea. Ho had already spent many years laying the groundwork for this startup with his business experience in a consulting role working on Fortune 500 companies. “It taught me the importance and value of good business processes and gave me the methodology framework to solve problems,” he explains. “I leveraged that when starting the 1Core Solution, and this gave it the strong foundation that the solution has until today.”
1Core had a very promising start and was well received by the industry. While it looked tempting to do otherwise, Ho decided to grow the business organically and not seek any outside funding. Four years in, he was presented with the rare opportunity to be acquired by KinderCare, the largest childcare provider in the world at the time. It took a lot of hard work to get to that point but it was tremendously satisfying for Ho and his team to know that the technology was valued by such a reputable organization. Fast forward three years later, the new KinderCare management decided to divest from operating a technology business. Ho made a pitch and was successful in reacquiring his original venture.
This somewhat unusual mergers and acquisitions journey gave Ho and his team a solid foundation to continue to serve small to large multi-site childcare operators. A further validation of the impact 1Core Solution could make in the childcare industry was when the company was awarded the contract to serve up to 200,000 families at military child care centers and youth programs around the world. The technology provides the peace of mind that he sought as a new parent – from online registration and hassle-free online tuition payment, to helping with the emotional aspect by providing photo updates for parents who may be apart from their children for the first time. “I am so proud of the solution 1Core has built that now my daughter Cassie can use when she has children of her own in childcare.” Ho says.
Being a parent to two girls allowed Ho to make empathetic business decisions that would make a real difference to families across the country. “Being a parent looking for childcare really helped me understand the need to have peace of mind since my child is the most precious ‘asset’ I have whom I have to drop off everyday,” he explains. “Interacting with the childcare directors, owners and staff also helped me appreciate the amount of stress they experience while running the childcare business and this motivated me to make sure we take their peace of mind seriously as well.” This organic involvement in the industry has allowed Ho to develop a simple metric for success for 1Core where everything that is built into the technology has to answer the question “Does this deliver peace of mind to the users?”
“The 1Core motto is that we listen, we solve and we elevate,” Ho says. “Part of our business DNA is to always listen to our customer needs in enhancing our existing solution or in building out new solutions. Everyone in our organization is encouraged, in fact required, to always listen to our users: directors, staff and parents. This model ensures that we are always attuned to what the industry needs.”
The journey to get to this point wasn’t always a straight road, and Ho emphasizes that like most other startup businesses, 1Core encountered its “share of ups and downs”. However, he attributes much of the business’s success to his cofounder Swami who manages the remote development team from India, a partnership that began after a fortuitous meeting in Starbucks. “Our strong trust and shared passion to do the right thing for our team and clients is what sustained us and helped us thrive,” he explains.
1Core started as a passion project to help parents to seamlessly integrate childcare into their lives after Ho himself experienced many of the industry’s shortcomings. And almost 20 years later with two grown up children, his enthusiasm remains unshaken.”I am really proud of the business we have built, the impact it is making to the industry to date and the potential it has for years to come. After almost 20 years working on this venture, I do view 1Core as my life’s work, my legacy. I feel beyond blessed to be doing something I love every day.”
Find out more about 1Core Solution here.