Sawyer offers parents a moment of rest and lets children embrace their passions during the age of remote work
Work-life balance has taken on a new meaning in the past year, with many parents having to juggle parenting and homeschooling throughout the week. During the work-from-home era, Sawyer is making things easier for parents to enroll their kids in classes that allow them to explore their interests and keep them busy.
Sawyer is an online platform that connects children of all ages with an extensive catalog of virtual classes from all kinds of providers and helps parents balance work and parenting. Parents can choose the age range and type of activity their child is interested in on the Sawyer site.
The Brooklyn, New York-based startup was co-founded by Sawyer CEO Marissa Evans Alden and Stephanie Choi in 2015. The company has seen steady growth, raising $18.5M in funding over four rounds. The most recent was a Series A-1 funding round in May 2019.
“Currently, Sawyer has about 50 employees. We’re a relatively small company that tries to maximize our impact and help as many families as possible. We’re growing every year and hope to do so in this new year,” Alden told The Business Download.
In 2010, Alden launched the fashion advice and inspiration app Go Try It On, which was acquired by clothing rental startup Rent the Runway in 2014. Alden then joined the company to head its growth team – where she met Choi and saw the challenges her co-worker faced as a new working mother seeking kid-friendly activities.
That’s when the pair saw an opportunity in the children’s activity space and decided to launch a virtual marketplace where parents could book classes for their kids.
Alden – a mother of two young children – knows first-hand the critical role a platform like Sawyer can play in the lives of parents and children alike.
“Sawyer recognizes the modern-day realities of working parents and meets them where they are — online and on the move — and connects them with a wide variety of high-quality enrichment providers,” Alden said. “What started in Brooklyn has steadily expanded across the country, helping thousands of parents juggle work and parenting while also encouraging kids everywhere to discover their passions and their own love of learning.”
After making an account, parents can browse the hundreds of online classes posted on Sawyer and can enter their zip code to find in-person classes happening nearby. Not only do classes give kids a chance to explore their passions and learn outside of the classroom, but it also means they can spend more time mingling with other kids.
“We know how challenging times are right now and are committed to doing our part to help children continue to grow and learn, particularly outside the core academic subjects,” Alden said.
She explained that helping children discover their love of learning is at the core of Sawyer’s mission – and the vast virtual learning opportunities offered are reflective of that.
“We’re proud of the wide variety of classes that we offer at Sawyer, including music, art, dance, theater, STEM, Roblox, cooking, and many more. Parents can choose classes online or in-person for their kids knowing they are taught by caring professionals with years of experience. We’re constantly adding new providers and classes on a weekly basis, and the breadth and depth of our catalog mean that there’s something for everyone,” she added.
Alden notes that the company also offers many free courses such as Meditation for Kids, After School Jazz, and Musical Yoga Storytime.
“Helping children explore their passions and dreams in their own unique way truly gets me excited each and every day. Extracurricular enrichment is vital to children’s development, and that’s true now more than ever,” said Alden. “I’ve seen how kids, my daughters included, light up in our classes, eager to try out a new skill or giddy with excitement having just discovered a new hobby or passion.”