Book-Talk with Craig Pearce, Co-Founder of DayCareIQ and KidGenius
It was born three years ago, after Craig and Brandon Parsons both became fathers and faced the process of finding and applying for child care, bumping into things like “If your kids are not on a wait list before they are born, they won’t get into daycare”.
So they made it their mission to improve the experience for all parents going through this: make it easy, quick and safe for them. Why not spend more time with your child instead of searching for daycare? After months of research and development, Craig and Brandon put together DayCareIQ, that now lists childcare centers in every Canadian province and territory.
They also launched a sub-project of DayCareIQ, a paid tool called KidGenius. KidGenius is a web app that helps childcare staff connect more easily with parents and manage their daily tasks: track attendance, share photos, record meals, naps, activities and the likes. Their current customers are daycares, preschools and afterschool centers across North America.
I reached out to Craig to find out more about the books that helped him throughout his entrepreneurial journey, and how he still manages to find time for reading.
What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.
My favourite business book is likely The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. It is full of great wisdom and learnings from the building of Amazon. It’s both informative and entertaining. I think it is a must read for anyone starting a business in tech.
I don’t read a ton of non-business books, but my favourite is likely Unsaid by Neil Abramson. It’s a great story about a veterinarian, who has died and her husband who must take on her responsibilities beyond what he would ever imagine. Although I was originally drawn by the labrador retriever on the cover (I have two), the story is more about a chimpanzee embattled in a legal fight.
Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?
What probably helped, ironically, was the feeling of confusion when reading the book Founders at Work: Stories Of Startups Early Days. I read the book when I first became interested in startup culture and I was under the impression there was a formula for success that all startups had followed. While reading the various stories contained within the book, I was confused when every company seemed to follow a different path to success; founders came from different backgrounds, different motivations and started at different ages. There are themes, in many of these stories, but it was the realization that you don’t have to be a 20-something, Stanford Grad, with a Computer Science degree to start a company that really helped me pursue my interest in startups.
What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)
Prior to getting into books about business and startups, I read mostly fictional books, and mostly about dogs (think Marley and Me or The Art of Racing In The Rain). The first book I read about business was The Walmart Effect. I think I picked it up at an airport and read the entire thing on the ensuing plane ride. It was this book that got me interested in reading about the early stages of companies. I would have never guessed they could be so entertaining.
What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)
It depends on why you are reading. If you are reading to learn skills that can be implemented in your startup, I’d recommend The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Reis and actually avoid its predecessor The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products That Win by Steve Blank until later in your career.
If you read to maintain motivation and be entertained, I recommend a few books that in addition to telling great stories, also contain lessons and learnings. You won’t gain many step-by-step type lessons from these books but you will come away realizing that not all startups, regardless of what stage they are in, are as well polished as they make you think. You will realize that they make mistakes and struggle through the same things you struggle through when first starting out. I find this helps motivate me.
- Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal
- The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google
- The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
- The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World
- The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World
I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?
I read twice a day, on the bus to work and on the bus ride home. With a wife, 2 young kids, 2 dogs and a full time job, it’s about the only free time I get to sit and read.
After having kids, I’ve become a huge advocate for the public library. I’m lucky to live in a large city and therefore have access to an incredible range of books, however I suspect even small town libraries can gain access to most any book. One incredible, sometimes unknown feature of public libraries is that you can suggest books for them to buy. There was a book by Richard Branson that I had read about that my library didn’t have. I entered the info in their “Suggest A Book” feature and in a few weeks I had the book in my hands. I still check out paperbacks as I haven’t quite moved into the electronic world for books but suspect I will soon.
How do you make time for reading?
Sitting on the bus everyday provides a nice opportunity; there’s not much else to do other than look out the window. I’ll sometimes get into a rhythm of reading prior to going to bed. However, I suffer (if that’s the right word) of not being able to read more than 2 pages before falling asleep with a book in hand.
Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I feel like we’ve moved into an era of ‘constantly consuming’ facilitated mostly by our phones and easy access to information. Personally, I alternate between listening to podcasts, reading books or browsing news sites all day. Although I believe there is such thing as ‘too much television’, for me it’s a great passive intake of entertainment where I can mostly ‘turn off my brain’.
I think everyone needs to gauge what amount of information they can comfortably take in. For me, I try not to read too many technical or how-to type books or blogs and instead focus on storytelling. I find it easier to retain the information and stay motivated to continue to read when I get busy.
How do you choose what books to read next?
Most often I come across a recommendation while reading articles and comments found on Hackernews, a site popular with a tech crowd. Additionally, sometimes I hear book recommendations from some of my favourite podcasts such as Recode Decode with Kara Swisher or Mixergy with Andrew Warner.
Do you prioritize those recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?
I actually don’t get many in person recommendations. The only person I know that likely shares my passion for reading about startups and tech is my co-founder, Brandon.
Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?
I am currently reading The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. I was introduced to the author, Scott Galloway during his appearance on the aforementioned Recode Decode podcast, specifically episode released on September 14. His opinion and thoughts on the big 4 (Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google) lead me to research him. I put a hold on his book from my local library and waited a few weeks. A great thing about this book is its recency, for example, it includes Amazon’s recent acquisition of WholeFoods. So far, it has covered, in entertaining detail, Amazon and Apple. The author writes with great knowledge, mixed with the right amount of wit. The author argues that Apple is sex, Google is God, Facebook is love and Amazon is our gut. By aligning with these roles in our lives, they have become wildly successful. I hope to hear an expansion of his positions he discussed on the podcast, and hope to apply some of strategies into my own startup.
Links where you can follow Craig Pearce or find out more about his projects:
- Craig’s Twitter account
- DayCareIQ @ Twitter
- Startup of the week: DayCareIQ (Calgary Herald aricle)
- About KidGenius @ Indie Hackers
All books mentioned by Craig in this interview:
- The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone
- Unsaid by Neil Abramson
- Founders At Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days by Jessica Livingston
- Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog by John Grogan
- The Art Of Racing In The Rain by Garth Stein
- The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World’s Most Powerful Company Really Works–and How It’s Transforming the American Economy by Charles Fishman
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank
- Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal by Nick Bilton
- The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World by David Kirkpatrick
- The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google by Scott Galloway
- The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World by Brad Stone