Drop-in childcare built to fit the lifestyle of busy families with flexible scheduling

Jessica Dehn, owner of Dino Drop-In Childcare centers in the Bozeman area has found the holy grail of her why. Her why, coming from a background of nonprofits and start-ups is making the connection between business and making her community a better place to live and work. 

“I wake up every day and try to do the best thing,” she said. Dehn was approached by a friend of her husband’s about starting up either a juice bar or a drop in daycare. She had experience working with a startup food company and knew she didn’t want to pursue the juice bar and really wanted to be in a position to affect change in her community. 

She has found that by offering a service to fill the gap where traditional daycare doesn’t meet parents’ needs. By starting her own business filling the gap between full time day care providers and her own model of drop in care, she can provide a service that helps parents find reliable quality day care that in return allows parents meeting their own potential in the community. 

“We started the business with a loan from family and growth was not an option with this loan. Luckily, I had begun building a relationship with a banker before even starting the company. When the opportunity came to buy out my partner we had only been in business for about 5 months but since I had been volunteering at a local non-profit with my banker for a year I was able to secure financing because of the relationship and proven cash flow of the model,” Dehn said. 

In addition to having a positive cash flow early on Dehn also competed and won second place in the 2017 InnovateHer Challenge, the SBA’s nationwide live-pitch competition highlighting the innovative products, services, and technologies developed by visionary entrepreneurs that have a measurable impact on the lives of women and families, and in the marketplace. Dehn said she had a two-minute pitch to talk about where they started and where and where they are going. 

Finalists were chosen based on whose products and services best met the competition criteria and presented the greatest potential for success. Dehn won $20,000 to help grow her business. 

“Startups are awesome. Every day is different and there are new problems all the time that I have to solve,” Dehn said.  “There was nothing to service this market, and I’m able to provide this, I have started non-profits, but you can’t own a non-profit, and eventually you might not be on the board anymore. Owning a business is a real opportunity to affect change to help the community.” 

She suggests that anyone interested in starting a business should surround themselves with a network of like-minded business people. “You can do this, I’m able to operate with integrity on my own, but I’m no smarter than anyone else, I have no special skills, I love the kids, I love seeing the teachers develop. I want to build a great child care center,” she said.  

Dehn said the application process of the InnovateHer Competition helped her immensely. “I was trapped in a box and it really helped me look at the business from a totally different perspective.”  Dehn received assistance from the Montana Women’s Business Center to prepare and compete in the InnovateHer Competition. 

Dino Drop-In http://www.dinodropin.com/ is childcare built to fit the lifestyle of busy families and ever-changing work schedules.