Written By
John Davison, CTO
StartupLandia Case Studies

Case Study for Featured Customer

Converting a Parse driven API to a modern web stack

Executive Stats:

  • Converted an outdated solution to a modern web stack
  • Designed and built a custom customer facing management system
  • Hired full time software engineers
  • Integrated with billing and payment solutions

BrightWheel is a child care software solution made to help manage students, classrooms, families, and business—all from one app. The company received a healthy seed investment round and wanted to build a modern platform to serve the underserved pre-kindergarten (pre-k) daycare industry.

The challenges StartupLandia was hired to solve were:

  1. Transfer off of a Parse driven API (very limited usage) to a modern web stack that could support both financial accounting and transaction activity.
  2. BrightWheel needed a custom built management system for caregivers at small and independent pre-k daycare providers around the United States.

To accomplish steps 1 and 2, they began building an ios app and were in the process of also beginning an android app. BrightWheel internal employees were a small team of people. A mix of non-technical full time business people (including the CEO) and two software contractors working on the ios app. They were a small group of people who needed a full stack software solution to make their dreams a reality.

"They were a small group of people who needed a full stack software solution to make their dreams a reality. "

StartupLandia consulted Brightwheel's management team to discuss their options and we concluded that they need a flexible platform that allowed for:

  1. High quality event logging and transaction accountability driven by the ios app that can solve the challenges outlined below:
  1. Daycare providers shared with the owners of Brightwheel that a major issue revolved around knowing which children have shown up and departed each day (with a history log).
  2. Parents also shared that they would like to know different things that have happened to their children each day such as naps, snacks, the general emotional state of the child and their bathroom frequency.
  3. A standard portal for parents to log in and use.
  4. Brightwheel platform and service that would allow the daycare providers to have automated billing

The new platform was expected to handle all sorts of problems including offering an API to the ios/android apps, interacting with processing payment systems like Stripe, programmatically transferring data from their parse tables into the new database, and offering daycare providers and teachers a modern web interface that gave everyone access to all their individually relevant data. This data includes important information like activity logs of children actions, attendance logs and general business logs documenting services charged to the parents by the daycare. In addition to creating their web platform we became involved in the technical recruiting process for full time engineers.

"StartupLandia became involved in the technical recruiting process for full time engineers."

StartupLandia decided to build a new web platform in Ruby on Rails from the ground up. We wrote the `rails new` command and started MyBrightWheel on a new path, this is basically the allspark event for a software startup. After careful deliberation we began constructing the web portal that BrightWheel would go on to use to sign up daycare centers. This portal was a promissory milestone in their MVP that they committed to producing during their seed funding round. For the web portal, we also began building an API that allowed the ios/android apps to correctly log children's activities. We also created a space where daycare providers and parents can store pictures of events throughout the day. This app utilized Heroku and Amazon data storage tools.

Primary work on MyBrightWheel was done around building an interface for the web portal, much of this work was done without the aid of a skilled designer. The founder ‘drew' a handful of interface pages he thought would satisfy the needs of the daycare providers for keeping track of classes and billing processes. Startuplandia was able to create positive emotion inducing interfaces even when designers were not involved (though we don't recommend this strategy) it did save money and produced interface screens at incredibly fast speeds! In this case, we also utilized some backbone.js and other more standard tool kits like bootstrap and vanilla javascript + jquery.

Scaling the development team was also part of the scope of our partnership. At BrightWheel, we coordinated the interviewing process which included helping define the future engineering and designer positions, interviewing potential hires, and ultimately establishing a pipeline of skilled software engineers and designers. While we are working with BrightWheel we successfully hired 1 server engineer and 1 android engineer both of whom went on to spend at least 2 years working on their platform.

"We successfully hired 1 server engineer and 1 android engineer both of whom went on to spend at least 2 years working on their platform."

In 2016 MyBrightWheel received a $600k investment from Mark Cuban and Chris Sacca after appearing on the television show SharkTank. In 2017 they received a Series A $10M investment from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and in 2018 they received a series B investment of $21M from Bessemer Venture Partners with a post money valuation of $50 - $100M. As of Mar 2020, MyBrightWheel had 2500 reviews averaging 4.7 our of 5 stars at Capterra.com with reviews from users saying things like:

"Brightwheel has made our care center much more streamlined. Being able to scan quickly for check-in and check-outs has improved timeliness. I personally love Brightwheel and think it was a good choice for our school to implement. Our school is also very pleased with it."