The underdeveloped market in parenting, and what to watch this week

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Hello Quartz members—

A wave of entrepreneurs is focusing on a massive yet surprisingly underdeveloped market: supporting new parents. Many of these startups seek to demystify new babies for millennial moms and dads.

The timing is good, since most parents are armed with powerful smartphones, there’s slightly more gender diversity among investors and entrepreneurs, and parents and policymakers are increasingly focused on those crucial first 1,000 days of a child’s life. Money and attention are starting to flow into the area.

Quartz senior reporter Jenny Anderson, who has spent years writing about education and the science of learning, today published a deep dive into the activity around early childhood, a potentially enormous global market. She provides a guide to what we know works to help children succeed, and a structured look at companies and initiatives targeting different aspects.

Jenny has also covered finance and business for years, and brings a unique savvy to reporting on the business of education. (Her profile last year of a for-profit education initiative in Africa called Bridge International Academies is worth your time as well.)


A few facts that stood out for me in Jenny’s latest reporting:

  • Brains develop 85% of their mass by age three, with 1 million new neural networks forming every second.
  • A recent study found that 49% of parents of children aged five and under used mobile parenting apps, and 60% consulted science-based parenting websites.
  • Globally there are 400 million families with children aged 0-3; about half of them have a smartphone.

And she highlights a few interesting products and organizations:

  • Vivvi, the “Four Seasons of childcare,” built for medium-size employers.
  • All Our Kin, a US non-profit that aims to improve home-based care by increasing the supply of high-quality early educators.
  • Wonderschool, a sort of Airbnb for daycare that helps launch in-home preschools and daycares.
  • Lovevery, a stage-based early learning company that delivers packages of simple, well-crafted, expensive toys by subscription.
  • Easy Peasy, a platform with evidence-backed activities for families to discover and play learning games.
  • Huckleberry, which uses AI and a team of pediatric sleep experts to devise individualized sleep plans.
  • ChatterBaby, an early screening device for autism.
  • Cognitive ToyBox, gamified early childhood assessments to help unburden teachers from administrative overload.


It’s a busy moment in the news, with the intensifying US-China trade war worrying investors, and the UK seemingly headed toward a disastrous no-deal Brexit, among other things. A few things I’d highlight to keep an eye on this week:

  • Whither the markets. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway this weekend disclosed that it was a net seller of equities last quarter, and had amassed a cash hoard of $122 billion, as many find the stock market exceedingly richly valued. The market gains this year have been largely due to increasing valuations rather than improved business performance, and there are many reasons to doubt that rise can continue.
  • Can Uber ever be profitable? The ride-hailing company reports earnings Wednesday, following its announcement of 400 job cuts last week.
  • Protests in Hong Kong continue, and though everyone knows that China ultimately will gain full control, the unrest is a reminder of the inequality and lack of freedom already a reality there. You can follow our Hong Kong team’s ongoing coverage here, and I’d highlight this piece on the role of the hardhat as a symbol as well.


  • Tim O’Reilly, founder, chair and CEO of O’Reilly Media (who popularized the terms “open source” and “Web 2.0”) and Quartz Ideas editor Georgia Frances King discuss how regulators are tackling Big Tech in all the wrong ways on Tuesday at 11am EDT/4pm BST. (Tim will be talking about some of the issues he flagged in this article he wrote for Quartz. )
  • Quartz reporter Allison Schrager and finance editor Jason Karaian on Thursday, Aug. 8 at 11am EDT/4pm BST discuss navigating a world of perennially low interest rates. What does it mean for investors, retirees, businesses, and homebuyers?
  • Quartz senior reporter Jenny Anderson and Jason on Friday, Aug. 9 at 11am EDT/4pm BST discuss Jenny’s report on the wave of entrepreneurs who are focusing on the massive market in new parents.

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Kevin J. Delaney
Cofounder and editor in chief