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EducationManchester-based edtech start-up offers personalised parenting guidance for the formative years of...

Manchester-based edtech start-up offers personalised parenting guidance for the formative years of a child’s life

My First Five Years, the personalised parenting guidance start-up, has raised £1.4 million in investment to develop its early years education technology app, as the business targets 250,000 users in the next three years.

The edtech start-up, which offers advice to parents in the formative years of their child’s life, was founded in 2021 by Jennie Johnson and Alistair Bryce-Clegg, who both already have successful careers in education and childcare. It previously raised £200,000 seed funding in 2021.

The Manchester-based business has secured its funding from a series of sources including the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) fund, which supports job growth in the region and five unnamed high-net-worth entrepreneurs and business owners in the North West.

Jennie Johnson, co-founder at My First Five Years said: “We’re thrilled to have secured the funding which will allow us to continue operating for at least the next 15 months. We’ve got ambitious targets for growth, including content and app development, and this funding is vital to helping us in the next stage of our journey.

“We’re also pleased for the funding to have come from the immediate area and we were again oversubscribed. We pitched to 30 venture capital firms in the end and many firms do not seem to have the funds to invest in business at our stage. However, through the network and connections we have established, and the support received through the Exchange scale-up scheme, we have managed to secure the funds needed for us to continue to grow.”

Targets for 250,000 users in three years

The company has submitted its app to the Apple iOS store this week and will commission the development of an identical Android app this month.

Johnson, continued: “We launched a beta version of the app to 1,100 users five months ago and we’ve been lucky enough to be able to shape the app’s development based on their feedback and tune into what real parents have found useful, to create a feature-rich product earlier than we anticipated.”

The early years edtech app also has more than 1,000 registrations from users interested in the product once it arrives on the app store and is targeting 250,000 users in the next three years following its latest round of funding.

Plans for further job creation

The firm currently employs 14 staff and has plans to recruit a number of early years content specialists as it continues to develop its library of more than 2,600 skills and activity resources parents can use to support their child in their first five years. The business is also recruiting for a technical role and product owner in the coming months.

Johnson continued: “We want to continue to focus on what we’re good at and be unashamedly best in class. The idea remains to bring something really unique to the child development space.”

Marvel in the moments, not just the milestones

The app is designed to help parents support their child’s development with just the items in their kitchen cupboard and items found outside. Its philosophy remains to genuinely change how parents help their children learn. The app delivers timely content that is of interest to parents based on where their child is on their journey. It also features a scrapbook feature that allows parents to digitally collate videos and pictures and share them with friends and family.

Johnson said: “The app allows parents to marvel in the moments, not just the milestones. It helps parents to tune into their children’s progress and what they’re learning, and provide them with the knowledge of how best to support their children. It is a celebratory app – many products focus on concern and anxiety rather than what is happening and what is coming next. Our philosophy is to really change how parents help their child learn.”

Support from Exchange scale-up scheme

My First Five Years is part of Exchange, a digital and technology start-up support programme located at Department Bonded Warehouse in Enterprise City. The scheme supports and empowers the next generation of UK start-ups, giving them a city-centre workspace, the tools they need to scale their businesses, a peer-to-peer network of founders, and expert advice from industry partners.

Johnson continued: “The Exchange scheme has been incredibly helpful in our start-up journey so far. David Levine, the entrepreneur in residence, has been invaluable and has helped us think differently as a business. The events have given us insights we wouldn’t have otherwise had access to, and the team’s support with the fundraising and introducing connections have made the process of fundraising much easier.”

Councillor David Molyneux, GMCA lead for Investment and Resources, said: “GMCA was impressed with Jennie’s experience and the way technology was being adapted to improve the lives of parents and young children.”

“The continued development of My First Five Years supports the growth of Greater Manchester’s thriving digital economy. The growth of the app will also create a number of new good-quality jobs in the sector for the city-region.”

My First Five Years partnered with Manchester-based Apadmi, a mobile-first digital agency, to bring their idea to life.

The collaboration saw the submission of the My First Five Years app to the Apple iOS store this week…

Apadmi have been creating digital products for mobile users and big-name brands for over 20 years including the likes of the NHS, SailGP, and Co-op, which ensured they were the perfect fit for My First Five Years.

Apadmi said: “This app fills a huge gap in the market by creating a safe and supportive learning space for parents, to support their child’s unique development. We’re so proud to have worked with Jennie Johnson MBE, Alistair Bryce-Clegg, and the team on this project. We’re excited to watch it grow from strength to strength.”

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