September 6, 2016
Kids require a lot of attention, and if we ourselves are not available to give that extra care to our kids, we are keen on finding someone who we trust would do a great job. Trust is a huge factor in relegating childcare to others; we need to feel the connection, and believe that our kids are in safe hands and that the person doing the job is willing and capable of giving the utmost possible care.
I had a conversation with Ritu Narayan about the challenges parents have to deal with, and while she was telling me the story of how the ZUM idea came about, oftentimes I found myself finishing her sentences. I related to the thoughts that go through our minds when our kids are not within sight, the premium importance she placed on trust, and the need for parents to have a trusted individual handling pickups and drop-offs of kids.
Narayan was working for eBay when she caught the entrepreneurial bug. Facing the mounting challenges of raising kids, she identified the problem and set out to solve it. She went to Stanford and finished her MS at the business school, and then launched ZUM.
ZUM is already operational in seven counties in California (Bay Area and Orange County) and will be coming soon to Los Angeles.
As great as Uber is, Uber doesn’t cut it for parents who want the extra vetting of drivers and nannies. ZUM drivers go through a thorough background check before being put in charge of kids. Part of the process is a one-on-one interview, a DMV check, fingerprinting and Trustline verification.
Kids are often very intuitive, and if they just can’t vibe with a Zumer, the driver is replaced immediately. Cars are stocked with booster seats.
A big part of creating a level of comfort is the real-time notifications to both kids and parents if requested – all of it with the push of a button in the mobile app. If kids have a mobile phone on them, they will get notified when the driver is close to them, while parents get up to date notifications when the kids are picked up and when they are dropped off (as well as check on the exact location of the car at any given time). On top of this, there is a cool functionality in the app that allows for 24/7 live chat, and the operators seem to be right there at your beck and call. Just ask and the customer support person will handle your concern. So, if you are at your desk working away and you want to get a live update, you can simply chat without having to take the time to make a phone call and wait for long, agonizing minutes.
An integral part of why this service makes so much sense is the additional service Zum provides: should a driver arrive at the home and the parents are not there yet, ZUM drivers are also trained nannies. They will be able to stay and supervise, and ZUM will charge in convenient 15-minute increments. Parents can also organize pickup and drop-off of up to four different people directly from the app, and the app will optimize the route using advanced routing algorithms. Mandatory drop-off signature is also available upon request as an extra layer of comfort.
There is a bevy of topnotch investors that saw the value in ZUM and pitched in during the seed round. Some of them are Lyft investors as well as the Stanford Angels and entrepreneurs. It seems many of the initial clients of ZUM recognized the value of the service and trusted the founder enough to put up some of the initial $1.5 million seed round.
ZUM ZUM ZUM: it’s a winner.
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