I’ve never experienced a more nerve-wracking life event than that of hiring a sitter. Interviewing potential childcare providers turns into a guessing game of which sitter looks least likely to shake my baby. And then the interview process typically consists of me saying something like, “I know you’ve watched other kids, but you need to understand that my baby is different. He’s special and requires much more care and attention than you normally give kids in your charge. So whatever level of care you normally give to a baby, you need to double that for my son.”
Considering the fact that extended families are more spread out today than they were one or two generations ago, and younger families are increasingly drawn to urban life, finding a reliable, trustworthy childcare provider can be a truly daunting process. For those parents, there’s UrbanSitter, a marketplace where parents can find and book childcare providers. UrbanSitter will announce that it has raised $15 million in a Series B round of funding led by DBL Investors, with help from Match Group and existing investors Canaan Partners, First Round Capital, Menlo Ventures, and Rustic Canyon Partners. The new funding brings UrbanSitter’s total raised to $22.7 million.
Founded in 2010, UrbanSitter differs from other online childcare marketplaces in that it drills down on parents’ social circles. You sign up via Facebook Connect to find sitters and nannies recommended by parents in your social circles, such as a play group, your kid’s sports team, school, etc. Parents can search, book, and review sitters all from the site.
“Today UrbanSitter is primarily focused on the babysitting market and the types of jobs filled can be categorized as follows: 1/3 are reoccurring bookings (i.e. ‘every Tues. and Thurs. afternoon’); 1/3 are last minute bookings (i.e. ‘tonight’) and 1/3 one-off bookings (i.e. ‘next Sat. night’),” said CEO Lynn Perkins in an email.
UrbanSitter now has 93,000 members and has more than doubled bookings in 2013 versus 2012. The company launched its very own mobile app in fall of 2012 and has been seeing some strong mobile traffic. Perkins tells me that 37% of UrbanSitter website traffic comes from mobile devices.
“A relative newcomer to the space, UrbanSitter is out-innovating incumbents with its combination of trusted connections, real-time bookings and mobile payments. This fresh capital combined with a seasoned leadership team and novel, in-demand service will enable the company to extend its reach in exciting ways this year,” said Cynthia Ringo, managing partner of DBL Investors, in a statement. With this investment, Ringo joins UrbanSitter’s board of directors.
Perkins says that while UrbanSitter is seeing some organic growth in new markets, it’s currently focused on its established markets, such as San Francisco, New York, Chicago, LA, Seattle and DC.