Chris Bennett is an American entrepreneur, CEO, and co-founder of Wonderschool, a platform that helps parents find quality in-home child care and education programs. He was born in 1984 in California, United States.
Chris Bennett is the son of hard-working immigrants from Honduras. He grew up in Miami, where most members of his extended family, including his mother, were running their own small businesses. He and his sister attended a childcare center a woman ran out of her own home. Well-prepared by his early childhood education, Bennett went on to be one of the few individuals in his family to attend college and continued his family’s tradition of starting new businesses by founding LiquidBooks and Soldsie. After completing his Bachelor’s in Economics at the Wharton School, he observed that most parents were struggling to find good child care and reflected back on the center he had attended as a child:
“I realized that it’s actually really hard for people to optimize their childcare businesses the way Yoli has. She’s sort of an outlier in that she has both the business and education aptitude needed. I recognized that we had an opportunity to help people build the right childcare businesses.”
Bennett holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from The Wharton School, where he was involved in Sigma Alpha Epsilon and the Real Estate Club. He also completed the International Baccalaureate program at Coral Reef Senior High School. Additionally, Bennett has participated in several programs related to startups and entrepreneurship, such as 500 Startups, NewMe, and Startuponomics. He was also a member of the Leaders in Tech program in 2018-2019. Bennett’s education and experience in economics and startups have undoubtedly contributed to his success in co-founding and leading Wonderschool, a company focused on providing quality in-home early education for children.
After college, Bennett took a job in private equity, but after two years, he quit and tried out several different career options. He considered becoming a doctor, but after shadowing a physician, he decided it wasn’t for him. He investigated the US Foreign Service but concluded he didn’t want to join. He worked in a chemistry laboratory for a short period and found he didn’t enjoy it. Then, a friend told him about Silicon Valley, where people went to start new businesses. That appealed to him and he promptly moved and has been starting businesses ever since:
“I wanted to make sure that if I was going to spend a lot of time on something, it would impact a lot of people. So, when I read about this idea of starting a company as big as Coca-Cola or American Airlines, it clicked that I can accomplish doing good and having a big impact on the world through a startup.”
In 2011, Bennett co-founded Soldsie, a startup based in San Francisco that provided a platform for social media-based e-commerce. He served as the CEO of Soldsie until 2019.
After Soldsie, Bennett co-founded Wonderschool in 2016, along with Arrel Gray. Wonderschool’s mission is to ensure that every child has access to early education that helps them realize their potential. The company offers a diverse range of programs that combine engaged teachers, thoughtful education design, and the warmth of an in-home program. Wonderschool has helped thousands of parents find quality in-home care, and their network is growing every day.
After observing his friends and coworkers struggling to find child care, he and Arrel Gray co-founded Wonderschool in 2016. Bennett became an advocate for early childhood education after reading about the research showing that early childhood education made a huge difference in the lives of children. He often discusses the Perry Preschool Project, which provided preschool to half of a group of lower-income children. The study found that when the children grew up, the ones who attended preschool were more likely to get a college degree, hold a job, get married, and were less likely to end up in prison.
“ Preschool gives kids kids “non-cognitive skills like grit, perseverance, delayed gratification, and other skills” that allow them to achieve their full potential.”
Currently, Wonderschool is operating in 47 states and has helped thousands of people successfully start and run high-quality preschools.
Bennett says “We want every child to have quality child care within five minutes of their home.”
Time declared Wonderschool one of the most influential companies of 2022. Its co-founder and CEO, Chris Bennett, is hoping to achieve his dream of providing a high-quality early childhood education to every child in the United States. Bennett, the son of immigrants from Honduras, is an entrepreneur who believes early childhood education provides vital skills that allow children to reach their full potential.
Philanthropy and Awards
In addition to founding various companies, Bennett is a co-founder of the Black Founders, an organization that is dedicated to increasing the number of businesses started and owned by black people. The Black Founders provides networking, advice, and support to black individuals starting their own companies. Bennett is also a fellow at the Aspen Institute, a nonprofit think tank striving to create a “free, just, and equitable society.” Chris Bennett is a truly inspiring example of someone striving, and succeeding, in making the world a better place, earning him a place in our Black Excellence series.
Chris Bennett is part of our Black Founders50 Series. Download the complete 2023 BBVA Founders50 list here.