Babysitters are these glorious purveyors of freedom, providing parents with a few blissful hours of “grown-up time.”
UrbanSitter, a service that connects families with qualified nannies, has raised $15 million in its second round of funding.
UrbanSitter is a two-sided marketplace, with parent profiles on one side and the sitters on the other. Parents can search for sitters by date and time, or post a job. Sitters can enter their availability and rates, or browse job postings. The site connects with Facebook, so parents can see sitters recommended in their social circles.
Families that want to conduct interviews before committing to a sitter have that option, and there are written reviews and ratings to create a system of accountability. All booking and paying happens online, or via UrbanSitter’s mobile apps.
“As a group of parents frustrated with tirelessly, and often unsuccessfully, dialing and texting to find a sitter, we founded UrbanSitter to create a community of families and sitters and to give them an efficient way to locate and communicate with each other,” said Lynn Perkins, an UrbanSitter cofounder. “We realized that we could use technology to simplify and speed up the process while still relying on our own networks to give us the trust and peace of mind we needed to leave our children in someone else’s care.”
UrbanSitter gives sitters a platform to manage their jobs and find work when they need it. The startup has grown to 49,000 parent accounts and 25,000 sitter accounts since it was founded two years ago. It is available in nine major metropolitan areas across the US.
Perkins said UrbanSitter is at the intersection of a couple of major trends — the growth of vertical marketplaces, peer-to-peer services, and mobile payments. Parents are generally (and to their credit) extremely careful about who they entrust their children to. Creating an Internet platform with that degree of trust, not to mention critical mass of parents and sitters, is no small feat.
UrbanSitter’s most notable rival is Care.com, which is in the process of going public.
This funding will be used to extend marketing efforts and enhance product development. DBL Investors led this round, with participation from Match Group and Aspect Ventures, as well as existing investors Canaan Partners, First Round Capital, Menlo Ventures, and Rustic Canyon Partners.
The San Francisco-based company closed its $6 million Series A round in October 2012 and has raised $22.75 million to date.