Kar Page


Connecting people who need child care



Sydney, Australia

Day Care

HTML, CSS, Ruby, JavaScript, Twilio, Coffee, Puma, Figaro, Intercom


It’s hard to find affordable, quality child care. Parents seeking to share nannies or place children in others’ homes often wind up fighting over money, yet larger operations lack flexibility. Hapu.com, founded by a member of a Maori tribe, establishes a marketplace with clear rules, matching up providers with parents just as Uber matches drivers with passengers.

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With his wife about to have a baby, Ben Marr had a brainstorm: Create an online system connecting parents with child care providers. Having grown up with one foot in Maori tribal culture and another foot in his native Australia, Marr felt he could use tribal values to solve a modern problem, creating affordable child care for working parents. He named his company Hapu, a Maori word meaning both “tribe” and, fittingly, “pregnant.”

He first needed to overcome legal hurdles. He could not provide child care himself, nor could he or his staffers personally inspect every provider. So he positioned Hapu as a marketplace instead. Hapu verifies that its providers meet licensing requirements, are insured, and have first aid training. Parents who want to sign up with a provider need to do the rest of the legwork to make sure everything meets their needs.

Meanwhile, Hapu needed to build a robust online presence that could establish the rules of child care arrangements and handle the payments. Marr had a thousand tasks to handle. As a veteran user experience designer, he recalled gnashing his teeth while trying to manage an offshore design team. “It’s just hell,” he says. “Even though I’m a tech pro, trying to get someone to design your site is difficult.”

Plus, he wanted to hire top-notch talent to build his site. “I’ve seen startups hire lot of juniors at a low salary” with poor results, he says. “I believe if you pay a pro a higher salary, they’ll get the job done sooner.”

In addition, he did not fancy the “lean startup” method of putting his product out in beta and then fine-tuning it. He wanted everything to work smoothly from the get-go. “Particularly because we’re handling people’s money, it’s got to work,” Marr says. “The first kink in the system where the money doesn’t flow, you’ve got a lot of problems on your hands.”

Marr read an article about Gigster on TechCrunch and the concept immediately made sense to him. “I think the great idea about Gigster is that if you give someone a project engineer and a product manager, you’re essentially giving them their own development company,” Marr says. “It’s such a simple idea to put just one or two people between the client and the dev team, but it works.”

Marr needed Gigster because, as a startup founder, he’s “a one-man band.” In addition to figuring out the business plan and the legalities, he also did all the design and the user experience interface. With so many responsibilities, he says, “you don’t have the mental space or time to micromanage the full production of your product. Micromanaging an offshore team essentially would make me the project manager, and that's just one too many jobs.”

With Gigster, Marr could give a site update to his project manager “and be confident that they can drive that from there.”

Gigster even proved competitive on price, bidding less than local Australian firms. Not only that, but the Australian teams “wouldn’t give me an absolute time frame,” Marr says. “They'd say, ‘We'll go the first two months and we’ll see where we are at the end of it.’ That just causes anxiety for me.”

In contrast, Gigster told him the job would take three months. “We’ve taken longer than that, but that's because we added new features,” Marr says. “At all times, Gigster has delivered as they said they would, and it’s just so helpful.”

Marr never felt like he needed to prod the Gigster team because he knew his project manager, Nicole, was doing it. “It's just a load off my mind,” Marr says. “It’s Nicole’s job to push that team to deliver on time.”

Marr launched Hapu in the summer of 2016 in Australia. He started with a six-week beta test and then debuted with a soft launch, as he was determined to make sure everything ran smoothly. He plans to proves the concept in Australia, then move to the United States.

He couldn’t have done it without Gigster, which he says is “one of those ideas that is so simple, yet so profound.”

I’ve been telling everyone to work with Gigster.

“I can just forget about those technical aspects of the building of my project and focus on other stuff,” Marr says. “I’ve been telling everyone to work with Gigster.”

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