People are everything. Your idea is only as good as the team you build to execute it.
Today's entrepreneur is Erica Mackey, co-founder and CEO of MyVillage, a technology-enabled company that is creating a real, authentic community to ensure high quality childcare and continuing education for providers. The company harnesses its strong community of Educators and Mentors to support one another while also providing formal learning opportunities with top academics and researchers in the field of early childhood education. The company recently raised $5.95 million, the largest seed funding round ever raised in the state of Montana.
As CEO, Mackey is building a high-quality, community-driven solution to the national childcare shortage by empowering home-based childcare and preschool providers with the tools they need to grow a successful business that puts kids and families first. MyVillage’s model mixes the best parts of franchising (quality, connection, support) with the best parts of a do-it-yourself startup business (freedom, control, independence).
Previously, she co-founded and was COO of Zola Electric (previously Off Grid Electric), the world’s first massively scalable off-grid electric company, connecting over 1 million Africans to affordable solar energy. Her ventures have raised more than $250 million from world-class investors including Tesla, Paul Allen, and others. She was a fellow at the Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship, and she has been recognized among Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs (2012). She was a delegate for the Academy of Achievement (2014) and was awarded the Zayed Future Energy Prize (2015).
Mackey has a BS in Evolutionary Biology from UCLA and and an MBA in Business from Oxford.
I am a(n):
Companies I've founded or co-founded:
Companies I work or worked for:
Achievements (products built, personal awards won):
Forbes 30 under 30, C3E Clean Energy Award for Entrepreneurship, Zayed Future Energy Prize, Citi Ashden Award for Innovative Finance, Delegate, International Achievement Summit, Oxford Saïd Impact Career Award
If you are an entrepreneur, why?
I want to change the world.
Why did you start your current company?
As a general rule, I don’t believe that “the way it is” is the way it has to be. What drew me to become an entrepreneur has always been the chance to solve meaningful problems. The company I previously co-founded, Off Grid Electric (now Zola Electric) is based in Africa and is democratizing energy access by providing affordable, clean solar energy to more than 1 million people.
Once I became a mom, my focus shifted. I experienced firsthand the struggles that families have in finding affordable, high-quality childcare. I also learned how hard a childcare provider must work to make ends meet, all the while encountering red tape and confusing regulations.
My time abroad also made me truly value the role that community plays in helping children thrive. I believe that happier providers and educators mean happier kids. Happier kids mean happier parents. Happier parents mean happier communities. And happier communities mean a better world. I wanted that community for my family -- for all families.
That’s where the vision for MyVillage was born - to rebuild the village of care in our communities. We created MyVillage as a solution that works for everyone: kids, families and care providers. MyVillage makes it easy to start and successfully run an exceptional home-based childcare and preschool business.
What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?
The most rewarding part is working with a mission-aligned team to solve a complex and unclear problem. The "how" isn't always clear, but being aligned and connected as a team in terms of the importance of solving the problem is very rewarding.
I'm a hardcore optimist, but the most frustrating thing is probably that entrepreneurial minds work very fast, and complex systems don't work that way. Some factors will be out of your control, slow, or unpredictable. That can be hard for entrepreneurs, I think.
What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs make?
The sunk cost concept. Entrepreneurs can get too emotionally invested in their solution, and the cost calculation you do in your head is not always rooted in reality. We tend to love every piece of what we build, even if it's not the right tool to solve the problem.
What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?
1) People are everything. Your idea is only as good as the team you build to execute it.
2) It's important to delegate important decisions early in the life of your company.
3) It's futile to waste time worrying too much about your competitors, because at the end of the day, it all comes down to execution. You could hand your blueprint over, and another team would execute it differently. It's all about having the right people in the right jobs, and once you have that A+ team, don't divert precious time worrying about competitors. It will only slow you down and distract you from your mission.
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Related Companies, Investors, and Entrepreneurs
Joined Vator on
Family in-home childcare startup MyVillage was founded by two working moms and serial entrepreneurs who refuse to accept the status quo of childcare in the United States.
With more than 51 percent of Americans living in a "childcare desert" where kids drastically outnumber quality, licensed providers, MyVillage is the only company of its kind with a solution that empowers Main Street America's parents, families, and educators by providing exceptional care at an affordable price.
Founded in 2017 and operating in Colorado and Montana with plans for national growth, MyVillage is a Frontiers of Innovation partner at the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard, leveraging the knowledge of early childhood experts to provide 10 child-led, research-backed curricula to all MyVillage educators. MyVillage is a technology-enabled company that is creating a real, authentic community to ensure high quality childcare and continuing education for providers. The company harnesses its strong community of Educators and Mentors to support one another while also providing formal learning opportunities with top academics and researchers in the field of early childhood education.
MyVillage Educators receive front- and back-office tools like accounting, marketing and scheduling to make it easy to launch and run a program. Personalized support and guidance from the nation’s best early childhood educators helps new providers along the way to becoming a licensed provider, increasing supply to meet demand. In just one year of operation, MyVillage has achieved higher than 98 percent customer satisfaction rating (NPS) from parents. In addition to helping Educators access marketing and technical support, MyVillage actively partners with the public sector to complement existing programs and standards with a shared goal of improving outcomes for the nation’s earliest learners.
Joined Vator onErica Mackey is a serial entrepreneur who co-founded MyVillage. Previously, Erica co-founded and was COO of Zola Electric (previously Off Grid Electric), connecting over 1 million Africans to affordable solar energy.