From Corporate Trainer to Spanish Immersion Preschools: Krystell Guzman’s Entrepreneurial Success | Daycare & Early Childhood Education Series

How can an entrepreneur transform a passion for language and education into a thriving preschool chain that empowers immigrant women and preserves cultural heritage?

In this episode, Krystell Guzman, founder of La Placita Preschool, shares her inspiring journey from corporate trainer to preschool pioneer. Krystell discusses how she built a successful Spanish immersion preschool network with four locations in the Oakland, California area, driven by her desire to preserve her heritage language while preparing children for kindergarten.

Krystell highlights the importance of creating a strong curriculum and fostering a family-like environment in her schools. She shares insights on navigating the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, including rebuilding enrollment from 10% to 80-90% and adapting to new safety protocols.

As the leader of a growing preschool chain, Krystell aims to create opportunities for immigrant women in leadership roles while providing high-quality education to diverse communities. She discusses the challenges of balancing affordability with profitability in the childcare industry and shares her concerns about recent changes in California’s early education landscape.

Resources and mentors that inspired Krystell:

  • Small Business Administration (SBA) advisors
  • Micro-lenders and their business resource advisors
  • Financial advisors specializing in small business growth
  • Manufacturing experience that informed her systems-based approach to business

Tune in for valuable insights on building a successful preschool business, overcoming industry challenges, and creating a positive impact in early childhood education and immigrant communities.




Welcome to another edition of inspired stories where leaders share their experiences so we can learn from their successes, how they’ve overcome adversity, and explore current challenges they’re facing.

Anthony Codispoti (00:46.989)
Welcome to another edition of the Inspired Stories podcast, where leaders share their experiences so we can learn from their successes and be inspired by how they’ve overcome adversity. My name is Anthony Codispodi and today’s guest is Christelle Guzman, founder of La Placida Preschool, a true Spanish immersion preschool with four locations in the Oakland, California area, where your child will not only learn and retain Spanish, but also become fully prepared for kindergarten.

Christelle holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Santa Cruz and a master’s in public administration from California East Bay. She is a training expert by trade, having traveled the world to set up training programs in such diverse areas as coffee production, human resources, and perhaps most famously for the Google book scanning project called Book Search. She was inspired to start the school as a way to preserve the language of her heritage.

while at the same time ensuring that her own children would be fully ready for kindergarten and beyond. They love the letter Z in Christelle’s house as all three children have a name beginning with the letter Z and we’ll find out what they are in just a moment. But before we get into all that good stuff, today’s episode is brought to you by my company, Adback Benefits Agency, where we offer very specific and unique employee benefits that are both great for your team and fiscally optimized for your bottom line.

One recent client was able to add over $900 per employee per year to their bottom line by implementing one of our proprietary programs. Results vary for each company and some organizations may not be eligible. To find out if your company qualifies, contact us today at addbackbenefitsagency .com. Now back to our guest today, the CEO of La Placida Preschool, Christelle. I appreciate you making the time to share your story today.

Krystell Guzman (02:36.864)
Thank you, Anthony. It’s a pleasure.

Anthony Codispoti (02:38.572)
So, Christel, before we talk about La Posita, I’m curious to hear just a little bit about the Google Book Search project. That sounds pretty interesting. What part of the job were you training people to do?

Krystell Guzman (02:51.648)
So I can’t remember the exact year it started, but one of the projects that came out of Google was to scan all the books of the world. And so the way that they started this program, actually my mentor, Tilly, she started the entire system. But it was a really, really complicated system where there were multiple scanning centers throughout the world. And she had developed a system where they would receive the books from the library.

pass them through a actual scanning system where somebody sitting at a computer and flipping pages, I think it was something like 4 ,500 pages per hour. And then they would click with their foot, a camera to take an image of it. And that would go to a quality control team that would look at all the images and then make sure they were all good before they sent the books back to the library. So it was an extremely complicated system.

Anthony Codispoti (03:45.707)
I guess I had imagined, because I’ve read about this project before, I had imagined there was some kind of automation. And I don’t know what I had in my brain, but something that has to turn the pages for you and is doing the scanning. But this was all done manually.

Krystell Guzman (03:59.552)
They were actual people and it was, you would walk into a scan center and you’d see about 100 people sitting at a scan desk that they had created, you know, specifically for the imaging. And it was just impressive. I mean, it was a hard job. I don’t think I could be turning pages for that many hours a day, but it was definitely amazing to see how it all was done.

Anthony Codispoti (04:22.059)
That’s neat. Okay, so you are an expert in training people, which suggests to me that you must have a certain aptitude yourself for learning new things. I’m curious if you’ve got a process for breaking down new or complicated concepts in a way that makes it easier to understand and retain information.

Krystell Guzman (04:44.032)
Yes, that’s actually something that I find quite fascinating. And it all started when I was a little girl in my mom’s classroom. She’s an amazing teacher. And I didn’t realize this, but through osmosis, I was actually gaining all the skills of how to transmit information by just being physically present in her classroom in elementary school. She was an elementary school teacher.

So I took that basis and I started to actually look at curriculum. Like how do you create curriculum so that people can understand it? How do you make it so that you’re not just speaking at somebody but you’re actually utilizing activities and concepts and moving people around so they can really retain the information?

So that’s one of the things that I absolutely love. And when I started in the coffee industry, I was training people that some of them were not really literate and are able to actually read or write. So I had to be extremely creative on how I shared information such as how the international coffee market worked. And that got me really thinking about all these concepts and how to make things understandable at all different levels.

So for me, I find it as an exciting challenge when I’m having to create, you know, explain a concept and have people retain the information. So I got fairly good at setting up these rubrics I make that are all about what is the goal, what’s the objective, and how do we make the steps to be able to retain the information.

Anthony Codispoti (06:10.794)
You know, it’s interesting, I would like to hear more about how you were relaying complex information to folks who were illiterate. Because I would think that whatever sort of approach that you used there would probably be helpful in most work environments because from my own experience, I know from having created pretty lengthy SOPs that…

Getting people to actually read and digest them, even when they are literate, when they know how to read, can be really challenging. Tell me more about what that experience was like.

Krystell Guzman (06:46.656)
So the most unique experience I can mention is one of the first projects I did in the coffee business. I was working with small farmers in Chiapas, Mexico. And they were from indigenous communities that many didn’t even speak Spanish. They spoke their Mayan language. And I brought Jim Reynolds, who at that time was the buyer for Pete’s Coffee. He was the very first roaster for Starbucks when Pete’s and Starbucks were the same company.

He was my mentor. He taught me how to taste coffee and I took him down to this region in Chiapas to do a training on how the international coffee market worked. So you can imagine if you live in a village that takes four hours to walk to because there’s not even roads, the international coffee market is something that’s completely foreign to you. So we had to do a lot of pictures, a lot of drawing, a lot of conceptual things. We had a lot of…

people assisting potentially take out concepts and write those concepts down for the participants. But that was an example of how we really had to take something complicated and display it as very graphically on the board. And it was such a great experience. And to this day, Jim Reynolds says, because he traveled all over the world for coffee, he says that’s one of the most authentic experiences that he had ever had.

Anthony Codispoti (08:03.721)
That’s fascinating. I had no idea that there were pockets of Central South America that didn’t speak either Spanish or Portuguese, that are still, you said they’re native Mayan language. So.

Krystell Guzman (08:16.)
Yeah, in southern Mexico, especially in Chiapas and then also in other areas of the Yucatan Peninsula, actually the Mayan languages are still the dominant language.

Anthony Codispoti (08:25.641)
And so I’m curious if the experience that you had there and creating lots of visuals, if those were skills and ideas that you carried over with you into other training programs, even when folks had the benefit of understanding and knowing how to read.

Krystell Guzman (08:41.952)
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, most importantly, your first reflection when you’re creating training programs is who is my audience? Who is my audience? What are their capabilities and what are they? How are they used to learning? And so you really build it based on that. So what, you know, how do I get to my audience the best and most effective way? So that’s my first step.

Anthony Codispoti (09:02.057)
So, okay, talk to me about the transition that took place from your background in training to starting a school. I mean, all of your work is still like in the education space, but now you’re transitioning from teaching adults in a corporate environment to teaching little ones. What was that like for you?

Krystell Guzman (09:21.248)
So it was definitely a shift. I think the reason, the main reason why this came about is because my middle daughter, who now she’s 14, but when I started the company, she was going to be two years old. She was going to be ready for preschool. And I was looking at the environment here in Oakland of what Spanish immersion programs existed. We only spoke to her in Spanish for the first five years. And I wanted to make sure that she really retained her Spanish and only learned in Spanish for those first five years, because I knew that it would be harder to.

retain her Spanish otherwise. So I looked at what was out there. I had a bad experience with my son in the sense that they were speaking Spanish in his preschool, but they didn’t have a curriculum. They were not preparing him for kindergarten. So at that time, coincidentally, it was 2008, I managed to buy a nice duplex where I could put a preschool downstairs in my house.

And I looked for a partner to help me to create this concept. And one of the mothers at my son’s school was interested in joining with me. So we started a school out of my house and I call this our laboratory. It was our laboratory where we had all of these theories about what could work, but we really had no clue. So we had one paying customer and two of our own children. And we started.

Anthony Codispoti (10:34.055)
I’m sorry.

Krystell Guzman (10:41.792)
basically with the concept of training children, which was totally different than training adults. So we went through a lot of great exercises and we learned very fairly quickly. The community responded amazingly. We ended up filling up our first school within the first eight months. And immediately, because I’ve always had this entrepreneurial spirit, I was started to look for a commercial center that we could occupy.

to spread what we were doing.

Anthony Codispoti (11:12.136)
So in those early days when you’ve got one paying customer and your own two kids and you’re trying to figure out what this looks like and how it works, were you drawing inspiration from, I don’t know, any existing programs that were out there or were you just kind of throwing stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks, see what the kids respond to and see what works?

Krystell Guzman (11:34.496)
No, we were definitely using the foundation of immersion. So we almost took, you know, English as a second language and kind of reversed it. So we were doing Spanish as a second language. Some of our children already spoke Spanish, so that was a non -issue, but some did not. So with the concept of ESL and immersion programs, you use a lot of TPR, total physical response. You use your whole body when you’re explaining concepts. With

With young children, it’s almost better because there’s no fear of saying something wrong or inappropriately. Children are not afraid. They also have the ability to interpret cues from your body more so than we do as adults. They’re very good at sensing energy and all these other concepts. So it was fairly exploratory, but it was…

easy in the sense that we had the training background and also those early years of spending time in my mother’s classroom that really came back to me to help me understand how to how to run a great circle time, how to get children to do what you wanted, and then also how to resolve conflict. You know, over time, we got really much, much better at all the little things that come up in a preschool, which could be anything like biting or slamming, slamming a Lego on top of another child’s head. I mean,

there are definitely conflicts that exist.

Anthony Codispoti (12:56.999)
Quick little funny aside as you were talking there reminded me when my own youngest son couple years ago he was in a preschool environment and they were trying to teach some Spanish words and He came home one day and announced to me that he knew how to speak and he called it Spanish And and then he proceeded to demonstrate for me and I thought he was gonna say, you know like Ola or gracias or you know, some of the basic words He just started speaking in gibberish and at that point

Krystell Guzman (13:14.56)
I’m sorry.

Anthony Codispoti (13:25.095)
it was clear to me that Spanish, or Spamish as he called it, to him just meant speaking incoherently, speaking sounds that he didn’t understand. But obviously this was something that’s really important to you, it’s the language of your heritage. What is your heritage? What’s your background?

Krystell Guzman (13:43.904)
So I was born in Mexico, in the Mexico City area, but my mother had actually grown up in high school in the Bay Area. So she was already familiar with the Bay Area and when she went to Mexico after high school, she met my father and so we lived there. And then they separated and when that happened, I came back to the US and I grew up in Fremont, California.

Anthony Codispoti (14:07.622)
Okay, so let’s get to present day now. We started in the basement of your duplex, quickly started to grow. You’re at four locations now. Tell us, is it still the same sort of foundational experience that you had in mind when you first started this? Spanish immersion, for people that’s important to their heritage, the language skill is important to them and their families, as well as that solid foundation and prep for kindergarten, is it still that?

that same kind of foundation.

Krystell Guzman (14:40.224)
Yeah, it’s definitely still that foundation and it’s we have a very diverse clientele. So we have a lot of parents that don’t actually speak Spanish at all, but they want their child to learn a second language early on. I mean, now we have studies that show that if you learn a second language as a young child, it’s first of all, it’s easier, but it also opens up another side of your brain that otherwise would be dormant. So it’s something that a lot of people are really appreciating and into if they’re going to pay for preschool, why not?

learn a second language while you’re doing that. So it’s an easy, it’s an easy sell in the sense of, you know, people understanding, especially in the Bay area, the importance of speaking a second language.

Anthony Codispoti (15:11.717)
And I’m, sorry, go ahead.

Anthony Codispoti (15:21.158)
And so I’m curious, for families where they don’t speak Spanish themselves at home, how much is the child, you know, in a preschool age, how much are they learning and retaining in those, you know, couple of years that they’re with you?

Krystell Guzman (15:36.352)
So we’ve had everything from, we had one girl who was like, I think she was a polyglot, but she started to learn the language within three months she was fluent. I mean, she was completely responding to us in Spanish. So the way that we do it is that immersion basically means that we’re not gonna translate for you. Clearly when you first start in the first week, we will use English so you feel comfortable because, you know, children have to feel like they’re in a comfortable environment.

Once we pass that stage, they quickly learn the main things that we say. And preschool is very repetitive. You have routines that you do every day. So people immediately start to understand, vamos a lavar las manos, vamos afuera, you know, all these things, they start to immediately retain and then it just goes, grows from there. So parents are always amazed at how well their children speak. And it’s really beautiful. Like if they come into one of our classrooms,

and they’ll sit in circle time and they’re going to hear all these people responding and asking questions in Spanish. And I can say that, you know, we have a few feeder schools that are also immersion schools and they absolutely love us. All of our kids get in because they speak great Spanish. And one of the things that’s been really important to us, especially because of my background in training, is to have a really strong curriculum. All of our teachers are required to follow the curriculum that we send to them monthly.

and then plan their week based on that. And they have to have everything from a science goal, a vocabulary goal, an emotional development goal each week. And so all of that is supervised by our amazing staff. And children are come out not only as better human beings, because the thing about preschool is that it’s the first time your child is in society for the first time.

It’s the first time that they’re balancing their individual needs with the needs of the group. So they have to learn to manage, you know, I can’t get everything I want at all times. And I have to follow directions in order to do have a good day. Right. So they learn everything from the social emotional aspects of being a better human being, but also being able to sit and listen and have patience and be able to follow simple directions. I mean, these are all things that make you successful in kindergarten.

Anthony Codispoti (17:56.516)
Tell me a little bit more about the curriculum itself. I’m gonna guess there’s still quite a bit of play that goes on, but in a probably a more structured environment.

Krystell Guzman (18:06.304)
Yeah, so we look at it as based on the age of the children. So two year olds will have more play based type of exploratory learning. They’ll have a circle time that’s maybe only like 10 to 15 minutes long. And then as they get older, that curriculum gets a little bit more developed. So say they’re four years old. And so at four, they’re going to be learning how to write their name. They’re going to be learning the sounds of letters. One of the things that we do for phonetic awareness and being able to learn how to read.

is we don’t say the name of the letters because there’s a different name in English and Spanish. Instead, we do the sound because when you start to put letters together to read, it’s all about the sounds. And the sounds in Spanish and English are somewhat similar. There’s some that are different, but most are very similar. And so that’s one of the ways in which now when they’re four, we have very specific rubrics and…

different things that they need to know at that time. So we have stages. Each of our classrooms has the two -year -old goals, the three -year -old goals, the four -year -old goals. And so by the time they go to kindergarten, they are pretty much reading within three to four months. We don’t focus on reading, but we focus on all the basics that you need to put it all together and start reading.

Anthony Codispoti (19:21.892)
You make sure that they’ve got that foundation in place before they go to kindergarten. Yeah. So, Kristel, I’m curious to hear about the growth trajectory here and how you’ve managed that. You know, it takes a certain set of courage and skills to start something from scratch in the basement of your duplex without having had background in that. And then…

Krystell Guzman (19:26.016)
Mm -hmm.

Anthony Codispoti (19:50.948)
Once you’ve got the concept proven to take it and then grow it to another location and another one and another one, that’s a different set of skills. Like you have to transition yourself from doing everything yourself, you know, having your hands in everything to now building a team and getting a network of people in place that you trust to be able to do those things. Tell me about how you managed your own transition through these different stages.

Krystell Guzman (20:21.792)
Yeah, it was definitely challenging. I think for us, it was the first thing that was challenging is how one of our core values was to really share our culture in a family environment. When children are in preschool, they’re sometimes there for over 10 hours. And so really they’re being raised by us as a family. And that’s one of the things that that Lupin and I, Lupin is the person that started the school with me. We were really concerned about when we grow, how do we keep that?

you know, love family culture together and really train our teachers if we do grow to have that same feeling that we created out of my house back when we started. So that part is, is, is, and was continues to be a challenge. but it was one of the things that we were really cognizant of, like we want our kids in a bigger center to have the same experience that they had in, in the house. So.

Using training, leveraging training, that’s one of the things that I luckily was able to create more and more training for teachers as they evolved and grew. We had some core values that we set up and one of our core values is growth and development. And so how does that translate to your staff? We have to teach them how to run a center. I mean, there’s a big difference between.

you know, running a preschool, lottery house and running a preschool in a center. There’s a lot more standards. There’s a lot more procedures that we had to develop. So what I did is I looked at what are my weaknesses? What are the things that I do not do well so that I can hire people to do those things? One of the main ones was accounting. I’m not good at the day to day, you know, payroll and accounting. It’s something that can take a lot of time. It was something that I said, you know, I’m not good at. I’m going to outsource that.

So I can focus mainly on the training and on the curriculum part of the school, which is my strength. So you start to grow up as a business and I can say it happened in stages. And I did have some different financial advisors that I would ask for assistance. I did work with the SBA initially when I needed my first microloan that helped me create an amazing business plan. From there, I moved on and graduated to a financial planner.

Krystell Guzman (22:35.904)
that I would use to say, hey, you know, what do you think about the numbers for this new center? Do you think that this is going to work out? And they gave me a lot of advice on what they thought and they helped me create a lot of really strong spreadsheets. And then the other part was, you know, where are we really gonna staff these schools from? Where are we going to obtain staff? And in our particular case, we’re dealing with full immersion. So we need people that speak Spanish fluently, preferably that’s their first language so that they speak it without an accent.

So all of those different things came into play as we grew and luckily it was, you know, somewhat slow. You know, not extremely fast, but you go through stages. And I definitely feel like there were times that there were growing pains, but you know, you deal with it when it comes little by little.

And it’s hard. I think sometimes when you’re the boss at your the top. So for example, Lupe, who’s my business partner, she doesn’t know anything about the whole financial side of the business. That’s something that only I know about and why, because it’s not her strength. If I were to, you know, tell her all about those things, then she would not be doing her job right now, which is director of operations. So she’s an expert in the staffing aspect, in the training aspect and being able to, you know, really supervise the day to day operations of the school.

So, you know, looking at the strengths of the people that are part of your company and being able to, you know, resource them in the right way is crucial.

Anthony Codispoti (24:01.7)
I really like this part of your story because it highlights the importance of having good partners in place, being able to lean on experts that can give you advice as you’re going through these different stages. And sort of this realization, this understanding of, you know, as much of it as does fall on your shoulders is you can’t do it alone, right? And it’s smart to look for that help and it’s smart to understand where your strengths are and where your weaknesses are so that you can help, you can get help to fill in those gaps.

Krystell Guzman (24:32.544)
Yeah, and actually one of the most important things, and this is my personal gauge on whether or not you’re a successful entrepreneur or not, and that is can your company survive on its own? Can your company walk on its own when you’re not there? And I think I draw a lot from manufacturing when it comes to this. So when I was in the coffee business, it’s very much a manufacturing process. When I was at the book search project, it’s definitely a very much a manufacturing process on how the entire books would cycle through the whole system.

So how do you create a system that will walk on its own, that is not contingent on one specific person, but it’s spread out in such a way that if one person is missing, you can still operate and function. And, you know, as my dream as a young child was to be a boss of something, I didn’t know what it was going to be. But my second part of that dream is be a boss that is living her best life. So I would say right now I work, you know, not a huge amount of hours.

because the amazing group of people that run this school. So I feel like that’s living the dream life, honestly.

Anthony Codispoti (25:40.708)
That’s fantastic. You found your groove. I’m curious to hear more about the contract that you have with Alameda County and the Carolyn Hobbs Academy.

Krystell Guzman (25:54.912)
Yeah, so recently we started a new contract. There’s a program that was actually started maybe over 20 years ago by Carolyn Hobbs. She was seeing young mothers having to drop out of high school because they were getting pregnant when they were still in high school. And so she wanted to create a program that could potentially help these young mothers finish their high school education, even though they were, you know, with young children. So this program,

They were looking for a new space and a new vendor that could help them with the childcare part of it. And so we met with them through one of our partnerships at the city of Oakland. And we decided to house them in the building that we have just finished building right now, temporarily until they can find a bigger space because it’s a huge need. And we started to care for the young infants and these are young, young babies. So these are babies that are two months to three years. So there’s a…

diversity and age, but most of them are young babies. And so it’s a new age group for us. We mainly work with ages two to five, so we had to learn a lot about infant care. And what we realized through this program is that it’s way more than just caring for the babies. It’s actually teaching mothers how to be better mothers.

Anthony Codispoti (27:12.644)
I don’t know.

Krystell Guzman (27:13.408)
And one of the things that will happen is that, you know, some of these mothers are coming from really low income areas. Some of them don’t even have parents with them because they immigrated by themselves. And they’re giving their child a telephone to look at when they’re four months old, or they’re giving them, you know, at six months, they’re giving them Cheetos and Coke for break. And we’re just horrified. We’re like, what? And so those are some of the things that we’ve had to teach, you know, some basic things such as nutrition.

attachment theory with your baby, how to sing to your child, how to bond with your child. All these things that we take for granted that I think people who have a privileged background can kind of spend time reading about and doing. But when you’re in the thick of it as a young child yourself having a child, you don’t know those things. You don’t understand nutrition. You don’t understand the importance of caring for your child in a specific way. And so this program has become much more than just childcare.

It’s actually created a curriculum of how do we educate young mothers to be better for their babies and themselves.

Anthony Codispoti (28:19.039)
This is amazing. I want to ask a couple of questions here. So I’m curious, because you said this is servicing a new age group for you. Now you’re dealing with infant care. How did you sort of level up and become familiar with what that kind of care was going to be involved in?

Krystell Guzman (28:36.736)
Well, we do have one center where we care for four infants and then 12 toddlers, I would say. So that was the first experience we had. And we basically had to just, it’s the way that you care for infants, it’s very much, you know, take leveraging your mother role and really understanding the needs of the child. You don’t fit young children into your schedule. You fit the schedule to whatever they need at that moment.

So it’s very responsive to each individual child’s needs. Creating a routine with them is also important. However, you know, being flexible is also very important. So for example, in that particular program, we might have up to 12 infants at one time. So it takes a lot of bodies and teachers to be physically able to do that work. It’s very hands -on and it’s very physical because you’re on the floor constantly with babies.

you’re doing tummy time with them, you’re stimulating them constantly, and then you also have to get them to nap at the same time, which is very hard, but it does work. They do understand the routine and they get into the routine because young children love routines. It just helps them feel confident and taken care of.

Anthony Codispoti (29:51.743)
And what’s fascinating to me is how you quickly realize that, we, our job here is not just to take care of the children, but it’s also to help teach these young mothers how to better care for their children. I’m curious, how much time do you get with the mothers? Is it just sort of in the transition of, you know, drop off and pick up, or do you have sort of blocks of time set aside where they come in for group classes? How does that all work?

Krystell Guzman (30:22.208)
Yeah, so the way the program is set up is that the childcare is basically next to their high school classroom. And so because of that, it becomes like a very family environment. So, you know, we basically started to realize early on that the needs were so diverse. So, for example, we open at eight, but the young mothers are out there with their babies at seven because that’s the time that they could get a ride in the middle of the winter.

And so my director’s like, no, I need to come in early because I can’t have these mothers out there with their babies in the cold. So, you know, that kind of thing, responding to their needs that way. They now that we started to, you know, one of the things that we do in the regular preschool is that we’ll send out an email with everything that we’re working on, the themes of the month, the songs that we’re singing. And I told my director, I said, an email is not going to be sufficient. They’re not going to read an email.

So why don’t we just ask for 30 minutes of their time and then we’ll go and we’ll present the information that we have for the month. And so when my director started to do that, the teachers of the high school program were like, my God, this information is amazing. Can you do it more? Can we do this more as a partnership? So then they created a program which we’re starting next month in July, which is an internship.

99 % of it is an internship with us where we’re teaching these young mothers how to be early child care professionals. And so it’s an onsite internship where we spend an hour with them in the morning explaining a concept about early childhood education and then doing the actual activities together with the mothers and their babies for the rest of the day. They also get a little bit of high school education at that time. However, the whole program is based on

being a child care provider, being a better mother for my child and how to develop a long -term success for myself and my baby.

Anthony Codispoti (32:15.613)
It’s really terrific. I mean, you’re checking multiple boxes there, right? And the course of teaching them what could become a workplace skill for them, it’s obviously very relevant and incredibly helpful for the stage of their own personal lives that they’re going to.

Krystell Guzman (32:31.84)
Yeah, and it’s a great partnership with Alameda County because they’re funding this. They’re giving the mothers a stipend if they fulfill their attendance and their goals for the program, they can get a stipend at the end of it. So it’s a great concept and it’s something that’s gonna enhance the lives of these young families as well.

Anthony Codispoti (32:51.164)
So looking at La Placida as a whole, you’re at, just opened your fourth location recently, you’ve got this new partnership. You guys have got a lot going on right now. Is there an even bigger term vision of where you want this to go, or is it, hey, this is the next stage, we’re gonna wrap our arms around this before we think about what might come next?

Krystell Guzman (33:13.792)
Well, before we do that, we have to talk about the horrible COVID time we all had. So, you know, we almost lost, yeah, we almost lost everything. I’d say one of the worst days of my life in general, and definitely as my life as a business owner was that day in March when we had to sit everybody down and say, we’re closing our doors because we inevitably didn’t have a clue what came next. I mean, I think all of us were.

Anthony Codispoti (33:17.98)
All right, let’s do it. Let’s go through that PTSD here.

Krystell Guzman (33:40.544)
terrified at that moment. Like, what does this mean? Are we still gonna be alive? What’s gonna happen? So I just remember that I’ll never forget that time sitting in that room and looking at all of these women in front of me and, you know, telling them we have to close and I don’t know what this means. It was a terrible thing. And just to see the fear on their faces and the uncertainty, you know, that we all had at that moment. So we closed our doors for two months.

After that, we decided we needed to reopen because we had to do something. You know, we couldn’t just stay closed and we had to start to reopen. So we reopened with 10 % of our enrollment. So we went from having a waiting list to enter our programs down to 10 % enrollment. And we could only bring back, you know, four or five teachers at that time. So we had to rebuild. We went, we were pretty much negative, negative, negative. And we had to rebuild in a lot of our.

clientele didn’t really need care because they could do it from their home as they worked. So we started with first responders, started to provide care for a lot of the first responders that had to go to work. And then we rebuilt from there. And it honestly took like three years to come out of that hole. And you come out of that hole and you want to continue your plans to be able to build out that building that we’d bought two years prior.

Anthony Codispoti (34:54.395)

Krystell Guzman (35:04.352)
And the banks are like, well, why are your P &Ls look like that? Why is this like that? And it’s like, well, what do you think? It’s like, how do you think that just because one year of COVID, we were down to 10 % we’re going to be recovered in three years? It doesn’t work like that. So that was a really tough time. We definitely leveraged everything from the PPP saved us. Two rounds of PPP saved us. We were able to finally.

get all of our staff back and now we’re where we’re at now, which is at 80, 90 % enrollment again. So I can say we’re finally in the light. Last year we saw the light and this year we’re actually in the light. Those were terrible times and I’m sure that there’s so many businesses that didn’t survive, but we were blessed to be able to have survived, but that was definitely a very challenging time.

Anthony Codispoti (35:41.659)

Anthony Codispoti (35:53.051)
So the early part of COVID right was March of 2020 where everything shut down. There was a lot of uncertainty There were a lot of people who thought a couple of weeks. This will blow over But in reality, you know, nobody really knew how this was gonna unfold and so on your side You’re two months into it. And finally you’re like, hey, we’ve got to do something We have got to open our doors and we’ve got to try to get a little momentum going So were the regulations in California at the time?

allowing for that to take place then.

Krystell Guzman (36:24.736)
my goodness, that’s another thing. So that part was so hard. So Lupin, my director of operations, she is the champion in this part because we had to, I mean, they would come out with directives, but they didn’t even know that the Department of Child Care Services, they didn’t even know. So we were just, you know, dealing with all these children using masks. We had to move most of our, a lot of our classes outdoors. We had to build a bunch of shade structures so that they could spend more time outside.

We had to use gloves, we had to use protocol if somebody got sick, we had to shut down classrooms. I mean, it was just an amazing amount of regulations that we’d never even thought of before. And it was just, it was really hard and it was scary because you didn’t know at that time, you know, every time that somebody was sick or not, it just, it was a scary time.

Anthony Codispoti (37:16.762)
Yeah, real scary and a lot of uncertainty as you’re touching upon there. The rules have changed and they’re constantly changing. And if California was anything like Ohio, you’ve got multiple agencies that were sort of chiming in. You know, you’ve got job here in Ohio, it’s the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and then you’ve got the Health Department and you’ve got the state and they’re all saying different things and sometimes they conflict with each other and you’re not even really sure where to go to know what to do and what rules to follow.

Krystell Guzman (37:48.032)
Exactly. It was so hard. It was so hard. And then even when we kind of got out of COVID, you know, we didn’t have a lot of workers. We got a huge worker shortage. Like we were, I remember we aggressively kept opening up our second two locations right after COVID and it was really hard to staff them. We didn’t really have a lot of staff. We were kind of desperate as far as, you know, who wanted to work, when they wanted to come back and things like that.

Anthony Codispoti (37:50.906)

Krystell Guzman (38:16.416)
So I think staffing became a huge issue. One of the things that we did on the staffing part was like, okay, we need to do something to proactively plan for the future. And so that’s when we started what I call the manager training program. So we identified leaders in our company that we could start to teach them of all about different aspects of running centers.

And we’ve had the most success with people that started with us at almost minimum wage as teacher aides with no experience. And we provided them education. We paid for them to take their classes in early childhood education. And then we trained them on how to become directors. So some of my teacher aides are directors of their own centers now. And that’s something I’m extremely proud of. Now, one of the things that we didn’t realize when we started this company is that we would be creating jobs for immigrant women.

And so now we can say we’ve created over 45 jobs for immigrant women that include manager roles, leadership roles, director roles. I mean, that’s for me, one of the most beautiful things that you can have a for -profit company that is also creating opportunity. It’s the greatest mix between for -profit and also a social mission.

Anthony Codispoti (39:31.673)
I love that. It actually aligns well with a question that I like to ask, you know, because it is a competitive job market, especially since COVID, you know, the great resignation. There’s a lot of folks who just haven’t come back to the workforce. And so finding and retaining good employees can be really challenging. And you’ve got this great training program, which is a fantastic way to hold on to and develop and nurture some of your best folks.

I’m curious if there are other things that you’ve done in the realm of either recruiting or retaining that you’ve found to be particularly helpful.

Krystell Guzman (40:06.688)
Yeah, I think, well, two things. One was understanding that, you know, because we have a core value of growth and development, there’s going to be people that are going to leave. You know, I think initially my business partner used to take that really personally. And I told her, don’t take that personally. Really everything comes in cycles, especially what we are doing is we’re frontline workers. We’re not tech workers. We’re not able to offer, you know, 100K salaries.

know, we’re frontline workers. And so what does that mean? That means that it’s cyclical. That means that every employee could potentially be with us for five years, and then they might find another opportunity, like being a real school teacher that pays a little bit more. So we have to understand that, and we have to make that part of our program that will have this cyclical process where people are gonna come and go. And so we have to prepare the people that we find to be leaders.

And so that’s what we started to do. We actually have a really amazing partnership with a company called Pacific Community Ventures. It’s a nonprofit that works directly with the Melinda Gates Foundation. And they have basically partnered with us to help us create frontline jobs that are better. So benefits, you know, do we have good benefits? Not only do we have tuition reimbursement for the classes that they take.

We provide bonuses. We also provide benefits as far as health benefits, 401k benefits. How do you create the best job you possibly can create? So Melinda Gates, actually, we got to sit down at a small table with her, with six people, because they really, really see us as an example of somebody who’s out there creating these frontline jobs as a small entrepreneur. They’re making a video on our project as well in July, so that’s exciting.

But those partnerships that we’ve made with different organizations have been essential to help us grow and also to recognize the hard work that we do. We’re never going to be like a billion dollar company, but at this point, you know, having four locations, we’re billing over 300 ,000 a month and yearly, you know, hitting like over three million. So, you know, we are a strong company. We’re basically the brick and mortar of society, which is, you know, small business.

Anthony Codispoti (42:22.2)
That’s fantastic. What a neat experience that must have been to have met Melinda Gates and then spend some time with her and have them help support you in your mission. That’s pretty cool.

Krystell Guzman (42:33.76)
Yeah, it definitely was. It was very interesting because those kind of things are coordinated to the T. So we met in a restaurant in San Francisco that was also one of the promoters of the frontline jobs. And everything was super coordinated. All right, she’s on her way. 15 minutes, 10 minutes, five minutes, action.

Anthony Codispoti (42:54.135)
You get your little snippet of time with her and then she’s on to the next thing. Yeah, great. And so where you’re at now, it sounds like you’re close to capacity. Do any of your centers have waiting lists currently?

Krystell Guzman (42:59.456)
Mm -hmm.

Krystell Guzman (43:09.216)
Yeah, our San Leandro location, which was a new market for us, that one has a long waiting list, especially for infant care. We do have a few infant spots there. One of the problems that we run into being in an urban setting is that in order for providing care for children under two, you have to have fire sprinklers in the building. In the city of Oakland, it’s a very old city, so most of the buildings don’t have that. So that’s a huge demand in cities throughout the country where there’s not

you know, the basic fire rules dictate that you have to have fire sprinklers and other types of, you know, things in place to care for younger children. And so not all the buildings have that. So unfortunately, there’s always a high demand for infant care pretty much anywhere.

Anthony Codispoti (43:53.559)
Okay. What are some of the most common concerns that parents have when starting their kids at a new school like yours? And what do you tell them to help put their minds at ease?

Krystell Guzman (44:05.664)
So I think children, I mean, parents in general are always afraid when they’re sending their child to school for the first time. You know, they can have any kind of fear, whether it be rational or irrational. They’re just afraid. And it’s actually a really interesting process. It’s one of those things that when you have a child, you really self -reflect on who you are, but even more so when you send them to school, because all of your fears come up. And the thing that parents don’t understand is that children…

can perceive those fears. And so the more you demonstrate or show your fears, the more the child is going to absorb them and the more they’re gonna fear the process of going to school. So we always counsel parents and saying, hey, it’s normal to be fearful. Try to not demonstrate or show that fear to your child because they will feel that way and it will be harder for them to acclimate to the school.

So we always, you know, we give them a speech about how you have to be confident, you have to make it fun, you have to go get them a brand new lunch pail and tell them how proud you are of them because they’re big boys and girls going to the big school. And just really promoting it in a positive way, it makes a huge difference because children can perceive everything.

Anthony Codispoti (45:16.694)
What advice do you have for parents who are maybe trying to decide between different schools? They’ve come and they’ve toured yours, they’ve toured another one. I don’t know, they both seem good. How can I really figure out what’s the best choice for me?

Krystell Guzman (45:30.24)
Yeah, I think that we don’t really, I think that, well, the difference with us is because we’re really into planning and curriculum, I think that that kind of sets us apart from many other schools. During our touring process, we show all of our, you know, the way in which we’ve created our curriculum, we talk about the basis of our philosophy. And so those are all things that you don’t get when you go to a normal tour. If you go to a normal tour, they’re like, here’s,

here’s this room, here’s that room, here’s this room, but they’re not actually getting into the nitty gritty of what we’re teaching and how we teach. And so that’s something that I train all the people that give the tours is that you have to really explain our philosophy. You have to explain why we do what we do. And so that is what really sets us apart. And when we first started, we actually spent zero dollars on marketing. It was all word of mouth. I mean, we grew full out of word of mouth because parents had had a great experience.

Anthony Codispoti (46:21.43)
That’s fantastic.

Krystell Guzman (46:27.296)
And to this day, I think the only time we actually had to do marketing was when we were coming out of COVID and we really needed to fill the schools more to be able to, you know, pay all the salaries that we had. So we still don’t spend much money on marketing at all. I think the program sells itself if you have a good program.

Anthony Codispoti (46:46.774)
That’s terrific. You know, one of the stories that you shared earlier that I really liked was about the young girl who, you know, you said, I don’t know, maybe she’s a polyglot. She was basically fluent within the first three months. Do you have any other fun success stories of little kids like that that have come through your program? You know, maybe somebody who really excelled, maybe somebody who came in, you know, in a really challenged situation that you were able to help through.

Krystell Guzman (47:12.48)
Yeah, I mean, I can remember another occasion where we had, I mean, this is a little different, but so for example, we had a young child, I think he was about three years old and he had a lot of problems in the sense of like being able to pay attention. He was a little bit aggressive with his friends in the classroom. He wouldn’t listen, he wanted to do his own thing. And so when that happens, we have to meet with the parents and we have to talk about, you know, how’s your home life, what’s going on, how can we develop.

plan to help this child be more successful. And in this particular case, the parent was a school principal. So she had, you know, pretty much almost a doctorate in education and her child was a had a lot of issues. And so we sat down with her in our office and we talked about, you know, basically what was going on was that this principal was, you know, gone all the time because she had to, she had a very demanding job. So she wouldn’t be home a lot at night because they had a lot of meetings.

And so the son was, so to make up for it, what she would do is she would buy her child everything that they wanted. Or she would never say no to the child because she felt guilty that she wasn’t there all the time. So she sat in our office and she cried and she cried and she said, you know, I’m creating the devil child that I’m dealing with now in my school right now. And she realized it. And it was that moment of realization of like, okay, even if you can’t be there physically all the time.

Anthony Codispoti (48:32.948)
Krystell Guzman (48:39.968)
your child needs boundaries. And when you create boundaries, your child feels safe, secure, and cared for. And that’s what people don’t understand when they’re not able to actually create those boundaries is that, you know, that’s what children need. It makes them feel like they’re cared for. It makes them feel like they can lean on you because you’re gonna watch out for them. So that started a very great process with her family and the young child is that we started to develop these systems.

to help him succeed and he still had the same amount of energy, but he learned a lot and we had that partnership with the family at home to work together to make a better environment for him and he did great, he excelled.

Anthony Codispoti (49:21.044)
What a neat story. Thanks for sharing that. Christel, shifting gears a little bit to more of the business side of things. You know, as business owners, business leaders, you know, one of the things that’s important for us to keep an eye on is that bottom line, right? You know, how can we make sure that there’s a healthy profit level there for us? And that could be driven in two different ways. It can be, you know, boosting sales or it could be, you know, decreasing expenses. I’m curious to hear from you maybe some creative or different things that you’ve tried to…

either one or both of those levers.

Krystell Guzman (49:54.848)
Yeah, so I think it’s always been hard. I mean, definitely for us, we have a formula, we call it, where we have to have a certain amount of children and a certain amount of center to be able to have that center be profitable. So, you know, we have our rubrics that we create to demonstrate, you know, what it is that we need to be at. And we try to follow that as much as possible. I mean, during COVID, that was impossible. However, right now we say, okay, well, in this school, we have to make sure we have at least

80 % enrollment, otherwise our expenses don’t work out. It’s rarely really challenging in a service business because 80 % of your budget goes to salaries and wages. And so it can be extremely challenging. Like how do you really give, especially in the Bay Area where it’s really expensive to live, wages that they can live on and at the same time stay profitable. It’s something that we deal with on a daily basis.

I’d say there’s always more to be done, but it’s really challenging. I mean, definitely like a service business. And that’s what I told my partner too. I said, that’s why sometimes we reach a glass ceiling where we can’t pay more and then people may leave. And that’s just the reality of this type of frontline job. So it’s always a challenge. One of the things that we do is we definitely keep costs low as much as possible.

We tried to do most of the work ourselves. We’re very much into recycling. I mean, you think it wouldn’t make a big impact, but actually we recycle everything. So everything, you know, when we do projects and we do, you know, we do a big end of the year graduation play and every single item in there is recycled. We do a huge expo every year where we invite all the families to see what’s been created. And some of the teachers transform the entire classroom into like a solar system or a jungle.

And all of that has to be done with recycled materials. And so all that has an impact. So we do talk about keeping costs low, but we also try to reward people when we have more money. And we haven’t seen that in a while, but I think we’re finally at the point where now we’re starting to be back to our normal profitability, which has been 20%.

Anthony Codispoti (52:06.547)
You know, and I think this is something important for people who are listening who, you know, haven’t been in the daycare space themselves, but have had kids in that environment because as a parent, I’ve certainly heard other parents talk about, man, why is daycare so expensive? It’s so expensive. It’s so expensive. But having talked with, you know, on my side, having had conversations with a lot of daycare owners even before COVID, but much worse coming out of COVID where labor costs have

gone up significantly, the margins just aren’t there. It’s been really lean living. And I think that’s what a lot of people don’t understand is how the economics of that work out. Like these daycare centers, they’re providing an incredibly valuable service. They’re allowing us to be here doing our jobs and having good peace of mind, knowing that our children are in good hands. So it’s providing an incredible service. And it’s doing it, it actually…

You know, it feels like a lot of money, but all things considered, it’s a pretty good deal for us.

Krystell Guzman (53:11.744)
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s extremely challenging. Wages went up, rents went up, you know, the cost of goods went up. So everything has been extremely challenging. You know, our goal has always been to keep it affordable for working families as much as possible. So we’re not the highest, you know, you know, charging preschool at all in any way. But unfortunately, one of the things that’s happening in California right now is that the Department of Education has decided to absorb all four year olds into the school system. And so what they’ve done is they’re…

you know, dismantling the private childcare industry because they’re taking all the four year olds that we would have normally had into the school system, into these TK programs. Our TK program is just as effective, if not better than what’s out there in the school districts. However, this school district’s Department of Education decided to really, I think it was a financial need. They wanted to bring more people into the Department of Education, into the school districts.

And so they started this TK and they’re starting to make the age younger and younger. There’s talk about including three -year -olds into the school districts, which is devastating private providers. I mean, we were already coming out of COVID in a bad situation. Now you’re taking all the four -year -olds that would have normally been in your program, and then you’re considering expanding it to even more to three -year -olds. So.

What we realized is that, you know, we need to plan for the future and say, hey, maybe we can’t be in cities like Oakland. Maybe we have to go to the most affluent cities in California to be able to provide our program where people will be able to pay, you know, pay for it. Because we don’t want to fold as a company, but we are definitely seeing that. We’re seeing that we don’t have the four year olds that we used to have. And so, you know, not a lot of people in California are talking about this, but it is going to have devastating effects on.

the immigrant work population, a lot of them work in childcare. It’s also gonna have devastating impacts on all the smaller providers that provide care out of their home. So more to come on that, but it’s something that we’re dealing with right now.

Anthony Codispoti (55:19.409)
I’ve got a few questions I want to unpack on that, Kristel. So correct me if I’m wrong, but a difference between these programs would be that the state version is probably only a few hours a day while yours is all day. Is that correct?

Krystell Guzman (55:32.928)
Yeah, exactly. So that’s one of the things that the parents, so they’re making that hard decision right now. Do I send my kid to Tite TK or do I keep them here? And they say, well, I’m going to opt for the TK because I don’t have to pay for it. However, I don’t know what to do about after school. Can you please open an after school program? And we’ve done that in the past where we’ll have an after school program, but it’s honestly just too challenging for us. You know, why are we going to do a whole nother program where people only work part time when nobody wants to work part time?

So it is a huge need right now. There’s a vacuum for after school programs for that exact reason that these programs only run four to five hours a day.

Anthony Codispoti (56:13.649)
Do you think there’s more infant care in your future as this transition unfolds?

Krystell Guzman (56:19.68)
I do think that that’s where you kind of have to expand to. However, we have that huge impediment of needing fire sprinklers in buildings that are old and that can cost over $200 ,000. So unfortunately, it’s not an easy fix. But we do consider, you know, as we move out to more affluent areas, we’re going to have to get buildings with fire sprinklers because we can’t care for those children under two without that. And it’s a really, really high cost.

One of the reasons why people don’t open up childcare is because you have to take a building and turn into an E -occupancy, which means full education occupancy. And that includes earthquake retrofit, fire, life and safety, and then egress. So, you know, not a lot of people have all that money to make that huge leap into, you know, turning a building into childcare.

Anthony Codispoti (57:12.817)
This new state program, the TK program we’ve been talking about here, where are the funds coming for this?

Krystell Guzman (57:21.664)
It’s funds coming out of the state budget directly to the Department of Education. I think it’s being pushed a lot by the unions. I think union labor’s been trying to unionize child care workers for years and they’ve had a hard time doing it because most of them are independent providers that are providing care out of their homes. So why would they unionize? I think that they’re one of the huge proponents of it, the teachers union that really wants to increase capacity and increase funding for the district through the state.

Anthony Codispoti (57:50.671)
Correct me if I’m wrong, I mean California’s had a huge budget problem for a number of years. It seems, I don’t know, a bit unusual to undertake such a big effort like this that would increase the expenses even more.

Krystell Guzman (58:06.144)
Yeah, I think there’s a thought that long -term the Department of Education will be able to receive more funding from the state. I think that’s kind of the concept behind it is that they’ll be able to increase their budget over time by caring for more children.

Anthony Codispoti (58:19.459)
Before I forget, because we promised the audience, what are the first names of each of your children?

Krystell Guzman (58:28.544)
So my son is ZL, Z -I -E -L, and they always say, well, how do you say that? Is it ZL? No, just say the letter Z, the letter L, ZL. He’s 19. My 14 -year -old is the reason why I started the school. It was for her, so that’s Zaylee. And then my baby girl who’s eight years old, her name is Ziana. So hence the reason why La Placita technically should be P -L -A -C, but I changed it to a Z.

Anthony Codispoti (58:55.727)
Okay, and what’s the affinity for Z? How did that all start?

Krystell Guzman (59:00.768)
I think it was just I wanted names that I could say in both English and Spanish, but I also like to be a little different. So I just like the letter.

Anthony Codispoti (59:08.719)
I’ve always said like when you’ve got like an X or a K or a Z in a name, it feels like a little edgy, like a little rock and roll. It’s fun. Yeah, Kristel, are there any specific maybe mentors or books, particular learning experiences that help shape you or your professional career?

Krystell Guzman (59:17.52)
Yeah, I try to be.

Krystell Guzman (59:31.744)
I would say not necessarily books. I’d say my experience in manufacturing was amazing to me. I said the way I always recommend people approach when they’re starting businesses is the concept of systems, like looking at systems, like how every time you start a business, you should consider it as a new system that you’re creating.

And so how can this system start to walk on its own? You know, you have to think about that at the very beginning of your stages of creating your business because you don’t want to be a slave to your project. You know, yes, you do need to put that work in early on, but if you think about it as a system that should walk on its own early on, then you can really, really grow it to where, you know, we’ve grown right now. And I do have to say that what I prefer, and this is how I work with

all the few people that do advise us is I don’t work with large firms. I don’t work with a large accounting firm. I don’t work with a large insurance company. I work with one person that will call me on the phone and say, hey, Christelle, we need to renew your policy. What do you think? So find those partners that will know you by name, will answer their cell phone when you call them, and those become your partners.

And one of the greatest partners I have is a financial advisor because it’s based on your weaknesses. Find your partners based on your weaknesses. So if I’m not good with making giant Excel spreadsheets, one of my partners is going to be my financial advisor that makes these awesome spreadsheets for me. So mainly, that’s what I look at. Those are the mentors that I’ve had, people that I consider to be extremely smart, sharp people that I can call at any time for advice.

And they’ve been cheerleaders of mine as well. I mean, they’ve been constantly, you know, checking in and seeing how we’re doing. And I can always go back to them and say, hey, what do you think about this? And what do you think about that? I mean, being a CEO is a very lonely place. You know, when you’re making those huge decisions of we have to shut down, when you’re making the huge decision of should I rent this new building, the implications of it, how much is it going to cost me? Should I start this new school? I mean, those are all things that I do in a silo.

Krystell Guzman (01:01:46.848)
pretty much by myself. So it’s a lonely place, but it’s a great place and it’s a privilege to be there if you started something new from scratch.

Anthony Codispoti (01:01:56.205)
That’s terrific. Do you have any advice for people who are listening and like, man, I really could use the kinds of advisors that Christelle is talking about. How might they go about finding that in their own communities?

Krystell Guzman (01:02:08.)
So I started out just with SBA. So SBA brought me to my very first amazing partner that helped me create a great business plan. And this person had had businesses of their own. So that was one. There’s another, there’s a lot of nonprofit organizations that promote small business lending. The one that I worked with was two. One was Main Street Launch here in the Bay Area.

They provided me a microloan and with that microloan comes a lot of business advice and business partnerships. After that, I went to Pacific Community Ventures, same thing. Most of those lenders, the microlenders, they have business resource advisors that you can link up with directly. We were given one time a lawyer from the Haas School of Business in Berkeley and she helped us with a lot of corporate governance things.

So I highly recommend go to your micro lenders and they will have a huge amount of business development resources. We’ve gotten plenty from them, but I know they’re available in every state.

Anthony Codispoti (01:03:14.701)
That’s great advice.

Krystell Guzman (01:03:32.16)
So we’re always available on laplacitapreschool .com. We also have an Instagram, it’s La Placita, it’s L -A -P -L -A -Z, because I love Z’s, itapreschool .com, we’re on Instagram. And then we also, I’m on LinkedIn as well, but you can just Google us, La Placita Preschool, partners in basically immersion and childcare. And one of the things that,

Anthony Codispoti (01:03:42.701)
Of course it is.

Krystell Guzman (01:04:00.48)
that I’ve been doing lately more has been really doing business advice for a lot of different startups. I’m able to explain to them the process of zoning and planning department, which can kill any business. So we do a lot of counseling for small micro businesses about how to start a business and how to be successful at it. But especially when it comes to buildings and infrastructure, which can be.

so hard when you’re actually getting a property and getting it ready to run a business. There’s things that you should know in advance that will prevent you from losing tons and tons of money.

Anthony Codispoti (01:04:37.709)
That’s terrific. You’re able to take a lot of that experience and expertise that you’ve built up over the years and share it with others. That’s really great. Last question for you, Christel. I’m curious, maybe aside from the TK transition that’s taking place, how do you see your industry evolving in the next five years? What do you think are some of the big changes that are coming?

Krystell Guzman (01:04:59.68)
So I think some of the things that are going to happen is that we are going to have to try to find buildings that will house younger populations. So we’re going to have to really, you know, work on that need that’s the infant need. There’s a huge need there for infant care. And so I think a lot of us are going to find creative ways to find spaces that will be amenable to caring for the younger age group. We’re also going to have to continue, you know, luckily we’re an immersion program, so we have a special

service that we provide. But people are going to have to be more creative with the services that they provide. So if it be opening an after school program to help the TK program that’s inevitably going to grow, or if they want to create, you know, space for younger children, then that’s something that I’m definitely if I do open a new location, I’m definitely looking for a building that would have what is required from fire, life and safety to be able to expand to younger age groups.

Anthony Codispoti (01:05:56.203)
much terrific. Christel, I want to be the first one to thank you for sharing both your time and your story with us today. I really appreciate it.

Krystell Guzman (01:06:04.192)
Definitely. Thank you. It’s been a pleasure, Anthony. Appreciate it very much. Thank you for telling our story. You know, we’re in a silo over here taking care of young children and it’s great to be out there.

Anthony Codispoti (01:06:11.979)
And we appreciate and love what you’re doing. Thank you. Folks, that’s a wrap on another episode of the Inspired Stories podcast. Thanks for learning with us today.