MEplace, a London-based early years nursery group promoting both mental and physical health, has raised £1.2 million in seed funding from leading consumer investor Active Partners. Additional participants in the round include existing angel investors Thomas Schreiber, ex Startup Advisor at Google, and Igor Tikhturov and Oleg Tikhturov, Partners at TrueSight Ventures. The new funds will be used to open more sites across the UK capital and strengthen their education offering for parents. Tom Profumo, Partner at Active Partners, will join the MEplace board.
Advances in brain science and psychology in recent years have revealed the significance of early years development in shaping our long-term mental and physical health. With our brain reaching 90% of its adult size by the age of 5, the experiences of early childhood can result in permanent physical and chemical alterations in the brain and have a transformative impact on our life outcomes.
But the full importance of our first five years in laying foundations for a healthy and happy life is not widely recognised, with a 2022 survey from the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood finding that less than one in five people understand the unique significance of the 0-5 period. Childcare has a fundamental role to play in a child’s development, yet finding a nursery that gives attention to both mental and physical health is a real challenge.
Founded in 2020 by Vlada Bell, MEplace is a mission-led nursery group raising happier and healthier children through a holistic approach that extends beyond the nursery’s walls. Recognising the importance of early childhood and informed by scientific research into paediatric neuroscience, child development psychology, learning sciences and language development, MEplace has developed a fresh framework for nurturing stronger, more resilient children by focusing on both mental and physical health.
Built on six key pillars that nurture a concept of self, children take part in daily mindfulness sessions, yoga, park visits, music and play therapy, and eat healthy plant-based food created by a nutritionist. The focus on children’s psychological development is also reinforced by the selection of teachers who typically have degrees in psychology and early years education, as well as in-house teacher training using bespoke MEplace-designed psychology courses.
Since its first two sites opened in Hackney Wick in 2020 and 2022, MEplace has been praised by parents, with an NPS +90 and both nurseries oversubscribed. MEplace is also in the early stages of rolling out a digital offering to help empower parents to shape what the future looks like for their child from a psychological perspective. The MEplace app includes childcare academy content, podcasts, articles and recommended children’s activities. As well as strengthening its parent education offering, the latest investment will also be used to open more sites across London.
Vlada Bell, Founder and CEO of MEplace said: “I started MEplace because I had trouble finding the right nursery for my son that focused on the mental and physical well-being of children. It was important for me that the carers have a deep understanding of child psychology, emotions, behaviours and could communicate with children in a way that a therapist would approve of. I also wanted my child to be in an environment with a team that shared my values, caring about inclusivity, sustainability, growth mindset, and where he could have a lot of fun. Nutrition was also a major factor, as I wanted to find a place that served plant-based meals.
“I became so invested in my search and learning about child development, that I teamed up with experts to help me create this warm, conscious and nurturing environment for kids. I am really proud of what we have achieved so far, but the best is yet to come. We are thrilled to have Active Partners onboard to support us in bringing our unique childcare approach to many more children across London.”
Tom Profumo, Partner at Active Partners added: “More and more parents today are looking for childcare options that are bespoke to their child’s individual development needs and based on cutting-edge thinking in children’s education and care. Vlada is solving this problem with a differentiated and science-led approach and MEplace’s impressive track record to date is testament to the team’s hard work and innovative offering.
Having worked with brands like Soho House and Rapha which have built strong communities through physical spaces, we are excited to support MEplace to expand and nurture its community during this next phase of growth.”