Today we’d like to introduce you to Lynn Perkins.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
When my twin sons were two and a half years old, I quit my full-time job and decided to take a few months off before jumping into something new. It was the first time I had the opportunity to connect with other moms in my area. As I met up with mom friends, new and old, I found that there were some common concerns that they all shared. One of their biggest concerns was finding trusted childcare.
Some were nervous to go back to work for fear of finding a good nanny. Others talked about their personal lives and marriages suffering because they couldn’t find the trustworthy help that would allow them to go on a date night, to the dentist or a solo workout at the gym. I knew there had to be a better way to help parents find trusted care providers.
I realized that first and foremost, parents want a recommendation from a friend or connection—like a mom from their mother’s group or their child’s class at school. Second—but equally critical, the solution needed to be easy to use without the hassle of back-and-forth around scheduling or payments. Armed with these two insights and driven by a palpable need, I crafted my vision of the ideal technology-driven childcare finding service, which became UrbanSitter.
It’s been seven years from the vision of where we are today. There are UrbanSitters in more than 60 cities and millions of hours of babysitting have been completed through the platform.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
To say it’s all been up and to the right would be an exaggeration. Like any startup, we’ve had our ups and downs. I think we’ve done a good job of doubling down on the things that have gone well and learning quickly from our mistakes.
One of our biggest challenges initially was helping parents feel comfortable with the idea of booking a babysitter on the Internet. We realized the key to overcoming this challenge was integrating social recommendations from friends and other trusted parent organizations. When parents realized that they could find sitters previously vetted by friends and other parents from their child’s school or moms group, they were excited about UrbanSitter.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the UrbanSitters story. Tell us more about the business.
UrbanSitter leverages members’ social networks (like Facebook and LinkedIn) and local groups, like your child’s school and people who live in your neighborhood) to find babysitters to whom they have a real-world connection with people they trust. The personal connection and recommendation really take away the “unknown” and this has been a big factor in our success.
In addition, UrbanSitter offers profile info with valuable marketplace data about each sitter’s performance (reviews from parents who’ve booked her/him, number of repeat families, how quickly they respond to booking requests, special skills, etc.…). Some sitters even have a video available to help parents get to know them better.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business? What are you most proud of as a company?
I’m proud of the service and traction we’ve built and I’m thrilled that we are addressing a real need in the market. In particular, I take tremendous pride when I hear from a mom how an UrbanSitter has changed her life, or when a sitter tells me they were able to pay their college tuition with money earned through UrbanSitter.
What sets you apart from others?
There are a few key factors that make UrbanSitter stand out. Community Connections. If you’ve ever wondered who the go-to babysitters in your neighborhood are, you can find that answer with UrbanSitter. We designed UrbanSitter to connect parents with hundreds of ratings and reviews from their local community, schools, moms and dads groups, neighbors, friends and other trusted groups.
I like to say that UrbanSitter replicates the word-of-mouth process of gathering recommendations, but makes it faster and easier. Online and mobile booking and payment. Similar to OpenTable, parents search for a babysitter by the date and time they need help or post a job to our Job Board. Every UrbanSitter has an online calendar, so once you decide on a fit, you can then book a job or interview instantly—and even pay with a tap at the end of the night.
Proven, trustworthy babysitters. UrbanSitter babysitter profiles show a wealth of information about the sitter, including their track record with families. Beyond a star rating and reviews, you can see how many “repeat families” have booked the sitter more than once and take a look at their average response time. Video profiles also give you a sense of the sitter’s personality and fit for your family.
What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to
I think that my determination has served me well as an entrepreneur. Starting, building and growing a business is not easy. There are many speed bumps and roadblocks along the way and it is a strong sense of a determination that helps to get you through the tough times.