What's your business model?


How does UrbanSitter make money?

UrbanSitter uses a subscription model, letting parents and sitters to pay extra for premium features

Innovation series by Steven Loeb
May 21, 2016
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Updated with more information about UrbanSitter's Online Payment Fee

The sharing economy can be difficult to classify, but generally it seems to have come to mean any company that takes out the middle man, with platforms that allow people to connect directly, and easily, with people offering the goods and services.

By that definition, UrbanSitter certainly belongs in that category. It is an online hub connecting families with babysitters through social networks. The site will find available sitters, and show parents the ones recommended by other parents in their social circles, including mother's group, the child's school and theirs sports. They can search sitters by date and time, book jobs, and even pay online.

Unlike other companies in the space, which often make their money on a transactional basis, UrbanSitter takes a different track: it makes its money through a subscription model, where both parents and sitters can either choose a free option, or pay for premium subscription with more features

There are separate pricing plans for sitter and for parents.

Parents have the option to choose a free plan, which lets them search for babysitters, read full profiles and videos, see sitters recommended by friends, post a job and view candidates.

They also have the option to pay $14.95 per month or $99.95 per year, which allows them to pay sitters with a single click, request multiple sitters to find help quickly, have access to UrbanSitter's mobile app and to cancel anytime.

Likewise, sitter's also have a free option, which gives them a profile, allows them to set their own rates and schedule, and accept credit card payments from parents.

They also have the option to pay $9.95 per month (plus a $10.00 set up fee) or $69.95 per year, which will include a background check, allow them to send custom messages to parents, reply to reviews and cancel anytime.

Lynn Perkins, the founder and CEO of UrbanSitter, discussed the decision to go with a subscription model in an interview with Street Fight  in March.

"Our business model is subscription based which I don’t think works for every marketplace. In our case it works well because with sitters you tend to have ongoing needs, but not at specific times. Some parents may use it three times in one month, one time the following month and four times the next month. It fits the sitter need parents have," she said. 

UrbanSitter also makes money by offering an Online Payment Service to facilitate payments from parents to sitters. The company charges parents a $7.50 fee for use of the Online Payment Service, which is added to the authorized booking and gratuity amount when payment is authorized by the parent.

Update: UrbanSitter has informed VatorNews that it is currently not charging any customers the payment fee, though it will eventually be brought back.

 "As of right now we aren't charging the payment fee, but we've left that in because we used to have two options: Pay As You Go and Subscription. We plan on coming back to market with a transaction based option later this year," Perkins explained to me. 

Founded in 2010, UrbanSitter now has over 50,000 caregivers and is available in 60 cities.

The company has raised $22.75 million in venture funding, from investors that include Aspect Ventures, Canaan Partners, First Round, Menlo Ventures, and Rustic Canyon Partners, among others.

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Description: An online service for parents and sitters to connect through people they know, UrbanSitter makes booking a trusted babysitter as easy as ...
Bio: Third time entrepreneur. Co-founder of UrbanSitter. Previous start up experience at and Finance/dev...

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