For entrepreneur from L.A., Buffalo provides perfect “playground” for business venture

It could be said that growing up in a family with 24 siblings prepared Scott Wayman for his current position as a founder/CEO of a startup. It could be said that he learned a strong work ethic early in life because he had no choice but to roll up his sleeves and get to it. It could be said that Wayman developed a generous heart because he watched his parents invite children from Korea, many of whom had disabilities, into their hearts and home. It could be said that starting his own company came as natural to him as waiting in line to use the bathroom.

It could not be said that Wayman grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth.

Wayman was the oldest male in an unusually large family. His mom had ALS and his father passed away from a heart attack while Wayman was studying psychology at Ottawa University, a small liberal arts college in Kansas. A long way from his home in Texas, Wayman relied on his faith and the support of family to cope with the loss.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” asks the OU website in present day. For Wayman, it was never about what do you want to do, but more about who do you want to become?

“The only principle that matters,” he said, “is, ‘does it change people’s lives?’” Wayman believes Kangarootime, his full platform application that automates the business of early childhood education for daycare centers and parents alike, is having an impact. He calls it a “lightning fast hub at the point of care.”

He launched his company in 2015 in Long Beach, Calif., and two years later, pitched his idea in front of 43North to win capital to expand his brand.

Before coming to Buffalo, Kangarootime benefitted from mentors and investors in Los Angeles, who invested $1 million in preseed money. Wayman and his wife also contributed funds from another startup they had owned and sold, to bring their total to $1.7 million.

So why leave the picture-perfect weather of California—which served as a lovely backdrop for his cardio activities like running—to move to the almost polar opposite of Buffalo in late December 2017?

“Winter did drag out too long for my California blood,” Wayman conceded, but says that Buffalo was attractive for many reasons. For example, Wayman knew that recent college graduates in Western New York would be a great resource.

“The work force here is underrated,” he said. “The people are bright, amazing, and diverse.” Kangarootime started with three employees; since coming to Buffalo, the company now employs 13 full-time workers and four part timers. Of that number, nine live and work in the Queen City, contributing to the city’s economy. (His remote programmers operate from Virginia and Tennessee and one remains in California.)

“Starting a company wasn’t that big a deal,” Wayman said. Especially a business that works with and for daycare centers. “Owners of daycares are generally driven by love for children.” That value rang true with his values and vision.

To be able to provide the best childcare center software that allows parents to feel connected to their child throughout the day is what motivates Wayman. Currently, Kangarootime is onboarding 600 partner-clients. His goal is to have at least 3,000 worldwide. He provides services to centers such as KidsRKids International, Care A Lot Kids, Child Creative, and ECMC.

“Every city has a vibrant early education scene,” Wayman said, “but Western New York has one of the best.” He said he was pleasantly surprised by how passionate early funders were about Kangarootime, but even more so in Buffalo. “They are enthusiastic and want to see us grow,” he said.

And grow he plans to do. “We want to truly change the way children are educated in the world,” he said. “We are connecting the classroom to home. I believe we will have as big an impact as Amazon someday.”

He knows it can’t happen overnight—any more than a child can go from talking to constructing complete sentences overnight—but he is passionate about building a product that has the capacity to be revolutionary. The answer to “Does it change people’s lives?” motivates him to continue to refine his product.

For those who are considering starting a company, he offers this piece of advice: “When you feel like you’re going to fail, you’re probably on the precipice of success.” He is thrilled to be in Buffalo and feels the spirit of entrepreneurship has ignited the region.

Wayman doesn’t wait in line anymore to use the bathroom—his siblings all have homes of their own now—but instinctively he takes with him those early blessings of a very large family, healing through loss, and having a heart that is big enough to welcome all.

“Besides marrying my wife,” Wayman said, “this (Kangarootime) has been the most fulfilling thing I’ve done in my life. The people we get to serve are amazing, the most wonderful people on earth.”

Read more articles by Cynthia Machamer.

Cynthia Machamer earned a B.A. in writing from Houghton College and has more than 15 years of experience writing in the nonprofit sector. She moved to Buffalo in 2005, and her happiest moments are spent with her two grown children and her niece.
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