Written by Andrea Deckert, Rochester Business Journal
A tech start-up created by two Rochester area residents can help businesses lessen some of the load for their employees when it comes to one of today’s most challenging areas: supporting their children with remote education.
Edify is a virtual care benefits firm created by parents for parents, said cofounder and CEO Irina Tsukernik who founded the business with Bob Pease, Edify’s chief technology officer. Tsukernik saw first-hand the challenges of working from home while caring for a child a few years ago when she moved to Rochester with her infant daughter and was working remotely for a San-Francisco-based technology company. “At home, I was juggling childcare with responsibilities at work; it was stressful and too much,” she said.
So Tsukernik launched Edify to help reduce the stress for work-from-home parents.
The platform gives employees working remotely the opportunity to have children engage in virtual tutoring, instrument lessons, educational play and more. It is intended for children 10 years of age and younger.
The service is sold to businesses who can then offer it to their employees as a benefit of the company. It currently costs $16 per user per month. More information, including the ability to view a demonstration of the service, can be found on the company’s website.
Tsukernik and Pease met through one of Edify’s investors, Aaron Newman, a serial entrepreneur and founder of CloudCheckr.
Pease had worked for Newman’s company where he honed his technological skills focusing on coding and computer applications, as well as learning how to successfully run a start-up.
Pease said Edify’s platform was created with safety as the top priority.
For example, caregivers – the term used for those leading the virtual lessons - undergo a third-party background check. The virtual sessions are also recorded. In addition, there is an alert feature that allows the caregiver to send a text to a parent or guardian during the session if an issue arises.
Tsukernik said COVID-19 accelerated the idea for Edify, but it was one she had already been working on prior to the pandemic.
Pease agreed, adding the need for such a service is not temporary due to the challenges of the past few years. He noted that the tech industry has been moving in this direction for some time.
“A lot of these problems aren’t specific to pandemic times,” he said.
Edify’s offerings extend beyond helping employees’ children. It can also provide elderly parents who are living with the employee with a way to engage in virtual conversations with others.
In addition, the two co-founders envision adding a life coaching segment for employees to utilize, as well as educational opportunities for employees when they are off the clock.
Edify is growing and is looking for tutors in all areas of study. The business also plans to hire additional employees, and recently filled a sales role.
While the virtual platform is a relatively new offering when it comes to employee benefits, it is a timely one as more businesses are accepting work-from-home scenarios, Tsukernik said.
She hopes the woman-owned business can also increase the tech industry’s presence in Rochester and create more opportunities for women in the sector.
“We want to bring innovation, technology and jobs to the area,” Tsukernik said.
Co-Founders and Parents, Irina Tsukernik and Bob Pease.