By Lara Oerter, President & CEO
May 2, 2022
Today is a big day for our team. After 25+ years of being known as Controltec, the company is taking on a new name – KinderSystems. We are the same company that we were yesterday, but now we have a new name.
But First a Little History
To understand how we got to where we are today, I think it’s useful to look at where we came from.
When our founder and original CEO Norbert Haupt started the company in 1993, he was focused on custom software development projects. One of the first projects they did was to build software that controlled machinery. So Controltec nicely described what the company did, and it just sounded cool. Then in 1997, the team built a custom child care subsidy management system for a San Diego-area child care agency. It was such a successful project that we quickly realized that other child care agencies in California needed something similar – and we could take the software we built for the agency and make it work for others. The company’s first product, KinderTrack, was born. Norbert and the team decided to refocus the company on building a business in child care subsidy management software. And that has been our focus ever since.
Over the years, Controltec expanded in a number of ways. Geographically, we expanded beyond California to other states. The state of Iowa was the first state that adopted KinderTrack in 2006 for its child care subsidy management system. And the business grew from there – both in California and in other states. We also added more products including KinderWait, KinderConnect, and CenterTrack. We moved beyond desktop software into web-based software – and then cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS). Today we even have our own native mobile applications – KinderSign and KinderSmart.
Big Changes Over the Past Year
In early 2021, Norbert realized that the need for software to support publicly funded child care was becoming more acute. And he knew that Controltec could make a big impact. To make this impact, he needed more funding (because you must invest capital to grow a business). That’s where Firmament came in. Firmament is a private equity fund focused on providing growth funding for small and medium sized companies. In the fall of 2021, Firmament made a significant investment in Controltec and became the majority shareholder.
At the same time, both Norbert and Firmament recognized that they needed to bring in a new CEO who had experience growing and scaling SaaS companies. That’s where I came in. With 25 years of experience growing SaaS companies in EdTec (Blackboard) and GovTec (Avenu Insights), I was well positioned to help Norbert and the team take our company to the next level. I love mission-based software businesses. Working to grow companies that have a greater purpose beyond just profit is what really motivates me. Once I met Norbert and the team, I was hooked. I was thrilled to join Controltec in early October 2021 as President and CEO. Luckily, Norbert is still in the journey with us as Executive Chairman. I feel very lucky to have him as a guide, mentor, and partner in leading the company forward.
A few weeks after I joined Controltec, we merged with COPA, expanding our offerings in the publicly funded child care space to include Head Start programs. Like Norbert, Hamid Kelishadi is an entrepreneur who founded and built a company over 25 years focused on building software that makes a difference in the Head Start community. The COPA team has a strong reputation for serving this community with a product and support model that helps our clients make their operations more efficient so they can focus on serving families and children.
So Why Change Our Company Name
As I look to the future, I know that there is significant work to be done by everyone in the publicly funded child care ecosystem. This space is still very early in implementing cloud-based software to automate and streamline the work of providers and agencies. Public funding for child care is at historic levels ($58.4 billion in FY21 for annual Child Care and Development Block Grants and child care-focused federal pandemic funding as well as $10.8 billion in FY21 Head Start and Early Head Start Funding). But I know that this only matters if we can get the subsidies to the families who need it most. This is what we do every day across the country at state-level agencies as well as Alternative Payment providers in California. Our company can play a key role in making this happen in more places.
So, it’s time to have a company name that reflects the work that we do. KinderSystems is that name. We envision a world where all families, no matter their income level, have access to high quality child care. Our mission is to ensure all players in the publicly funded child care ecosystem have the software systems they need to deliver high quality child care to the families and children they serve.
I look forward to continuing to work with all of the players in the publicly funded child care system. I am interested in your feedback and input about how we can help – and how we are doing today. Please reach out.!
Watch this video if you want to learn more about what we are doing today.