Striking a work/life balance is easy when you’re single and childless and living on your own. It goes like this: work your ass off, and then come home and watch last week’s episode of “True Blood” on your laptop before hitting the sack. Maybe you need to post a sticky note to your bathroom mirror reminding yourself to feed your goldfish before you leave in the morning. When you become a parent (and I just did the “when you become a parent…” thing I always feared I would do some day after having a kid), finding a work/life balance becomes much more guilt-riddled.
To help families stay connected when they can’t be in the same place all at once, there’s the Karoo app, launched by the caregiver search site Care.com. While Care.com bills the app as a mobile social network for families, it differs from other apps with the same goal in that it has a specific focus on keeping parents and caregivers connected.
It’s a very timely launch, since so many daycares are installing webcams in their facilities so that parents can peak in on their kids throughout the day. I’ve actually heard of parents becoming obsessive and having to cut themselves off from the webcam because they found themselves compulsively checking it every few minutes.
The Karoo app is a nice middle ground—you aren’t completely cut off from your kids, but you’re not cyber-stalking them either.
The app allows parents to create their own private networks and invite anyone they choose, whether it’s the babysitter, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and so on. There’s definitely a clear focus on the parent/caregiver relationship, as the app allows users to update the CareLog, a feature on the app that keeps track of feedings, naps, potty time, play time, and other daily events.
The app also allows caregivers and parents to highlight milestones and firsts, and even use the app as a sort of digital baby book. Caregivers can post photos and videos right from their phone, or from their computers using the Karoo Web app.
“We did a lot of research into what our seven million members see as a daily challenge—a way to keep in touch and informed on all the details. What we found was that parents get inundated with messages in different forms (email, text, Facebook), but it’s not always the details they need and it’s hard to track it all down to share with others,” said Joe Cuccinelli, Care.com’s VP of product.
Karoo is the second mobile app launched by Care.com. The company already has a mobile app for its caregiver search service that allows users to post messages and care jobs, as well as search for caregivers.
Karoo won’t be the first app to help families keep in touch. 23snaps, Kazaana, and Burst offer similar services, but neither one really pegs down the parent/caregiver interaction that Karoo highlights.
Care.com raised a $50 million round of financing last month led by IVP, with help from Matrix Partners, NEA, and Trinity Ventures. The company has raised $111 million to date and has seven million users across 15 countries.
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