October 11, 2011
Looks like SitterCity might have some competition on their hands with the launch of San-Francisco-based UrbanSitter. Founded by a group of parents, UrbanSitter is smartly leveraging the connections of us parents on Facebook to help us find babysitters. However, they’re only in San Francisco for now, so if you live elsewhere in the US (like me!), you are out of luck.
I spoke with founder Daisy Downs, 1 of 4 parents who decided to launch UrbanSitter, who explained why they launched a company in a fairly competitive space:
You can book a dinner in 2 minutes online, but it takes 2 days to find a sitter. Finding a sitter is the last thing that is moving online, and we want to make it easy for parents by doing something different from everyone else. With local agencies, they reach into their pool of sitters, and parents end up paying a hefty fee for babysitters they don’t get to choose. With other online babysitting sites, you have access to, say, 6,000 sitters, when all you really want is 6 that your friends recommended.
Sign up using Facebook Connect and take a look at the sitters your friends or affiliations (schools, sports teams and parents groups, etc.) use. Sitters post days and times they’re available, rates, and location preferences, so you can immediately see who can sit for you – and how much you’ll pay. Jobs and interviews are booked online via the UrbanSitter website, and following the sit, parents can write reviews, rate the sitter, and add a “Like” to sitter profiles.
There are privacy controls in place: UrbanSitter will never post anything to your Facebook account, and contact information betweens parents and sitters is exchanged only after a booking is confirmed. And good news for sitters: you will keep all the money you earn rather than paying a percentage to UrbanSitter.
For parents, the service is free while the company perfects the site and process. “The fee structure will probably facilitate online payments to the sitters so parents don’t have to worry about hitting the ATM on the way home,” Daisy said. “We will be looking at a subscription model as well.”
Since I can’t try out this service yet, I have this to say: signing up was fast! If you are in San Francisco, let me know if you have used it and what you thought – leave a comment below.
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