UrbanSitter: An Uber Convenient Babysitters’ Club
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23 minutes. In San Francisco and New York, it’s 90 seconds.
Babysitters aren’t required to have background checks; they can choose to, and their profiles will reflect them, but often if a sitter has enough ratings and enough clients, it doesn’t really matter, Perkins says. Recommendations from other parents usually suffice.
UrbanSitter has also made the payment process pretty painless. Instead of scrounging for cash or having to hit the ATM, parents can choose to pay with a credit card through the app or the site, and babysitters have told Perkins they really prefer that to being paid in cash. For one, they say, they’re less likely to spend money when it goes directly into their bank accounts. For another, it takes away the awkward moment at the end of the evening when they have to wait for parents—or most often the dad—to count out cash. They’re also more likely to get a tip on top of their hourly rate when parents are using cards.
Babysitters set their own rates, and they vary quite a bit by market. San Francisco actually beats out New York as the most expensive city. The average hourly rate for a two-kid job in the Bay Area is $13 to $17 per hour.
UrbanSitter charges either monthly or annual fees for premium membership; parents and sitters both pay $9.95 a month, after one-time setup fees of $24.95 and $19.95 respectively. Or, parents can pay a yearly fee of $99.95, while sitters pay $69.95. Parents who don’t want to subscribe can also choose to pay a one-time fee of $14.95, if, for example, they’re travelling to New York and would rather find a local college kid who babysits for people they know than get someone through a hotel. “It feels better than using a hotel babysitter,” She says. “It takes out the strangeness of being in a new place.”
Today, the company focuses on markets in major cities—Boston, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, and San Diego—but has a presence in 60, including smaller, local vacation destinations like Napa, Lake Tahoe, or Cape Cod.
Though the idea to connect parents and sitters using Facebook might seem like an obvious one, UrbanSitter doesn’t have any direct competitors doing exactly the same thing, a fact that really surprises Perkins. Instead, their main competition comes from two extremes: Care.com, a website driven site that finds childcare but isn’t based on any sort of Facebook social connections, and old school, local babysitting agencies.
So far, the 21-employee company has raised $22.7 million, including a series B round of $15 million that closed in February, with DBL Investors as the lead investor. To date, they’ve signed up 80,000 parents and 30,000 babysitters across the country.
To Perkins, UrbanSitter is just another app that makes life so much easier, like UberX or OpenTable. “Even if I know I want to go to Kokari, I still use OpenTable, because if it’s not available, I can see what else is.” Perkins says. She thinks parents will want the same kind of convenience when it’s time to find a sitter so they can go out on their own dinner date.