Chelsea Sprayregen and Hannah Meyer founded their company, Pie for Providers, to help child care providers streamline operations and build stronger businesses. Sprayregen is the CEO of the company and Meyer is the COO.
From Left to Right: Chelsea Sprayregen and Hannah Meyer of Provide
Imagine, if you will, a scenario where all of today’s child care providers suddenly disappeared. Where would parents drop off their children before work? What would happen to the millions of families that rely on child care businesses every week?
Well, let’s hope we don’t have to find out -- but unfortunately, that’s where things might be headed. The reality is that most child care providers are vastly underpaid for the work and services that they provide -- not to mention the heaps of regulations, paperwork, and government agencies that they have to navigate just to stay in business.
Put all these issues together and it’s no surprise that fewer and fewer people have a desire to enter the child care community. However, Chelsea Sprayregen and Hannah Meyer are revolutionizing the way child care providers do business.
“On average, most child care providers work over 60 hours a week and are paid $23,000 a year -- it doesn’t match the social importance of their work; on top of all that, providers have a heavy regulatory burden which is a huge headache just by itself,” said Sprayregen. “It’s a huge issue in their industry, and we saw an opportunity to help providers by reducing the time they spend on administrative work, complex government programs, and processes like expense tracking.”
While Sprayregen certainly has more numbers to point out the inadequacies of the current state of child care, she says that she takes a more personal approach when it comes to solving issues for providers.
“I’m really proud that we take a human-centered approach to our business and our product,” said Sprayregen. “It’s not just a survey, we have a lot of in-person, one-on-one conversations and we spend a lot of time so that we can understand the human landscape.”
Sprayregen’s commitment to fix the issues in the child care industry began years ago. She had always been working in the social impact industry and combined her industry experience with a passion for entrepreneurship.
“I started thinking about the idea for Pie for Providers some time ago because, in the larger context of things, child care is very difficult to access for low-income families,” said Sprayregen. “I had seen the broken child care ecosystem, and I went to (University of Chicago) Booth with an idea to fix it.”
During her time at Booth, Sprayregen met Hannah Meyer and the two both realized they had a shared interest in social impact and entrepreneurship. They pooled their collective resources, talent, and experience together to create a platform that would help providers in the child care space. After quickly finding success in their immediate vicinity, Sprayregen and Meyer made the decision to expand their reach.
“We won the Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC), a competition at Chicago Booth for startups with social missions,” said Meyer. “That secured us a three-month membership at 1871 and at the time, we were looking to break out of the U of C ecosystem and meet new entrepreneurs throughout the entire city -- not just the university.”
While at 1871, Sprayregen and Meyer took an interest in WiSTEM, 1871’s accelerator program for women-founded businesses. After learning about WiSTEM’s network of over 3,000 women along with its many success stories, Sprayregen and Meyer applied for -- and were accepted -- into the program’s sixth cohort.
“I’ve learned so many things in this cohort, and I think what’s been amplified for me here is that even though we are all women who have great ideas, we constantly undervalue ourselves,” said Meyer. “We constantly second-guess ourselves, but here, we’re coming up with ideas, with plans, and telling ourselves that they are awesome -- that we are awesome.”