The current Covid-19 global pandemic has not only disrupted daily life as we know it. It has brought the first half of the school year to an abrupt halt, closing them, and it threatens economies on a larger scale as people grapple with the unknown.
Parents who find themselves at home with children who are not in school are having to find interesting ways to keeping their children interested and entertained while continuing to work from home.
Meg Faure, CEO and co-founder of Play Sense says, “Parents find themselves frustrated, caring for little ones, without a structured routine or appropriate stimulation activities, this can result in exasperation and a need for ideas and support as they educate and occupy their little ones.”
Play Sense is an edTech company that offers imagination-based play sessions in an in-home pre-school model to children aged two to four years old.
During a time in which most people would throw their hands up in frustration or feel stuck in not knowing what to do next due to restrictive lockdown conditions, Megan Faure CEO and co-founder of Play Sense and her team simply rolled up their sleeves and got to work to ensure they could continue to offer parents and their children and teachers a way to stay connected through their online education model.
A qualified occupational therapist, childhood development expert and accomplished author, known for her books Baby Sense, Sleep Sense and Weaning Sense, the Parent Sense mobile app and more, Faure is passionate about educating parents about how to ensure their children grow and develop normally.
She seeks to equip parents with the knowledge they need for raising their children. Her online Play Sense pre-school education offering will now make the unique curriculum and pre-school format available around the world. Faure says Play Sense overhauled their business model to include a digital offering where children can access their imagination-based play sessions virtually.
In the short space of 72 hours, before South Africa went into lockdown, Faure’s all-female team pivoted their business model to create an online offering that would ensure that teachers could still teach their learners, and children aged two to four years old in the programme could stay connected to their teachers and continue to learn, grow and develop.
Not only has Play Sense’s online offering been successful – it has provided parents with a daily routine for their children who are now at home with them, and it has also secured them R8 250 000 in funding.
Play Sense is one of 11 companies in Enygma Ventures’ cohort and became the first company within this cohort to receive funding.
Enygma Ventures General Partner and Co-Founder Sarah Dusek says she is very excited about how Play Sense has successfully pivoted its business, taking its unique play-centric curriculum online, adapting its model to serve parents and children during this unprecedented time of schooling from home. “We are exceptionally proud of the entrepreneurs we are working with, that even in the midst of this Covid-19 crisis, we are seeing amazing resilience, creativity, and ability to pivot their businesses and respond under pressure.”
Faure says, “We pivoted our business at the end of March to deliver an incredible home-based education solution, which includes virtual contact time for little ones with their teachers and activity ideas and learning support for parents. This will meet the critical needs of parents and their little ones during this period of isolation,” she says.
Taking both a short view and a long view of the future, she adds, “We believe that the way families choose to educate their children will be impacted long term and the choice of at-home or small group setting will become the norm of the future. This funding means that we can roll our programme out internationally.”
Faure says because they pivoted their business early, working around the clock to ensure they had a new, sustainable model ready to meet their parents’ needs and to prepare for a lockdown; South Africa’s extended lockdown doesn’t impact negatively on their business as they are now offering virtual classes ensuring children can still see their teachers and interact with them via an online platform in real-time.
She says they were able to pull this off because they harnessed creativity and leadership to find a way forward. “As a team, we engineered the most incredible offering in 72 hours – building a tech platform from scratch,” she says. “This was a testament to our team’s creativity and the amazing collaboration. If an entrepreneur can galvanize their team to innovate, they will succeed.”
On what the future holds, Faure says when the lockdown is lifted and people can meet again, Play Sense will continue to offer both small groups in homes and the virtual home solution to their members.
Play Sense’s success story showcases how women entrepreneurs in Africa are extremely investable and is just one example of how small businesses are successfully pivoting their business models through strategic innovative blueprints to bring forth new solutions that offer hope to many people in dark, uncertain times.
Follow Play Sense on social media on the following channels: