Spotting a gap in the market can be that "Eureka!" moment that many startups dream of - and the start of an awesome business journey. The founders of Manny & Me, both former teachers, saw that the market was crying out for mannies and nannies with a wide range of skills, and with a strong educational background. Here's how they started up.

1. Explain your business in thirty seconds or less

Manny & Me is a London-based nanny and education agency that provides high-quality mannies and nannies; we offer a bespoke and tailored service to suit the needs of our clients. Working with qualified teachers and tutors, we offer a nannying service that is both educational and enriching.

Our mannies and nannies not only teach and take care of children, they will also help organise children’s lives; from liaising with schools to arranging play dates. At Manny & Me our aim is to ensure that children live their lives to the fullest and achieve the highest possible results in school.

Our recruitment ethos to is provide a platform for our mannies and nannies to work in childcare, whilst pursuing other, life-enriching pursuits. At present we have a number of MA students on our books and our primary goal is to be able to support teachers and educators who are looking to gain further qualifications and training, whilst working a job that is both exciting and fulfilling.

2. Where are you based and why is it a good location for your business?

We have based ourselves in London for several reasons. Firstly, this is a city that we know very well; I have worked here as a manny and tutor, whilst both myself and Jamie, my business partner, have trained and worked as teachers in London. Consequently, we have an extensive knowledge of schools within many areas across the city.

Secondly, London is a key hub for graduates, both from the UK and abroad, and therefore provides the perfect place for us to find the highest quality of employees. The fact that there are so many schools in London also means that we have access to many qualified teachers.

3. How did you come up with the idea?

The idea came about for two reasons: the lack of males in childcare, and also the lack of an education-based childcare agency.

For the last 8 years I’ve been working as a manny and I’ve offered my employers something extra: a manny who is a qualified teacher, tennis coach and football coach. What this has meant is that I’ve been able to do the jobs usually covered by several people. When we looked at the current market we noticed that there was not only a lack of agencies, but there is no other nannying agency that focuses on education. This idea of a childcarer covering many roles was something that wasn’t being done; yet it was something that families were crying out for. The private school system is extremely competitive in London and the use of tutors is huge. We saw the need in the market for such an agency, and the rest has developed from there. With both my business partner and myself being primary school teachers, we come from an education background, so we wanted to create a childcare agency that encompassed that.

Ultimately, what we have created is a childcare agency that employs both males and females who are highly educated individuals. Our employees either have an undergraduate degree in a core subject or are qualified teachers. On top of that, many of our employees have strengths in other areas such as: music, sport and languages. This is something that no other agency is offering.

4. What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?

When we applied for the loan we were still in the very early stages of development. We had our ideas down on paper and had a great business plan, but what we really needed was a loan to get us off the ground.

Manny & Me - Virgin StartUp of the Week

5. How have you used it to grow your business?

The main expensive so far has been the website and SEO support; we see our online presence as being an essential part of growing our business. Even at this early stage we have received very positive feedback and seen our Google ranking take us to the first page when Googling ‘Manny/London’. On top of that, we have used the loan for advertisement costs and also various legal and insurance expenses.

6. Who is your mentor and how have they helped you?

Our mentor, Ian Monaghan, has been great so far. He has been very forthcoming with both his time and advice. Ian has been able to help us prioritise our immediate goals and then help provide strategies to obtain them. He has also helped us to look at the bigger picture and encouraged us to create clear targets for the future. Some of his recruitment and advertisement advice has been excellent, and we are already starting to see the rewards.

7. Biggest achievement so far?

Our biggest achievement at this early stage has been getting our website up and running, and also our branding, which we are really pleased with. Due to the nature of a childcare agency, the first port of call is the website, so for us it was vitally important to get this right. We wanted to create something that was colourful and fun, but at the same time professional. We think we have found the perfect balance of both and the positive feedback we have had has confirmed that.

8. What’s next for your business?

Our next step is to build brand awareness whilst growing our client base at a sustainable rate. This is important because we are working in a service industry and understand that the quality of our product is paramount to establish ourselves as a market-leader. We want to establish ourselves as an innovative childcare agency that can hopefully show parents that there is an alternative to the standard nanny and tutor agencies. We have spent the last month recruiting the best in leading practitioners, so now we have to begin our promotional push to get the company’s name out there.

We have a couple of really exciting ideas in the pipeline and also some potential coverage in the media that we hope will all help to make Manny & Me a household name in London.


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