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Interview with Lynn Perkins of UrbanSitter

Cloud platform for fast and safe babysitting raises $17M Series C to launch recurring care

Entrepreneur interview by Anna Vodopyanova
October 9, 2017
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/4a4a

If your babysitter cancels, or if you urgently need to run errands or simply want a date night and need to find someone to take care of your kids, you can use an app to instantly connect with a trusted local childcare specialist.

San Francisco-based UrbanSitter, the web and mobile platform connecting parents with local babysitters, and now nannies as well, announced recently that it received $17 million in Series C funding.

Lynn Perkins, CEO and co-founder of UrbanSitter, told VatorNews about the fundraising, leadership, and her journey in the development of the platform.

How will the new funds be used?

Lynn Perkins: The new funds will primarily be used to continue to grow in our existing markets, launch new domestic markets and to build our recurring care product.

What is special about this round? Who are some preexisting investors, if any?

LP: I'm really excited about this Series C group of investors. Included in this group are our preexisting investors, such as Canaan Partners, DBL Investors, First Round Capital, Menlo Ventures and Rustic Canyon Partners. Our new lead investor, AVP (Advance Venture Partners), has an incredibly talented, accomplished team, plus they can draw on decades of consumer distribution insights that will be valuable to UrbanSitter. In addition, we welcome increased participation from Aspect Ventures. Aspect has also built a great team and we've already leveraged their expertise and are excited to work with them more closely.

What is the most recent change that happened at UrbanSitter?

LP: We are in the process of launching a recurring care product. Our product has really excelled at helping families find last-minute and one-time childcare. But we know that families also have recurring care needs, such as an after-school sitter, part-time nanny or full-time care. We are excited to solve this problem with an innovative and intuitive solution.

What are the broader cultural/tech trends that drove the founders to start this business?

LP: Finding trusted childcare is a dilemma that has frustrated parents for a long time. We looked at emerging technology trends and realized that if we could harness the power of a few of these—including social recommendations, the growing adoption of peer to peer services and algorithm-driven personalization—that we could unlock trust online in the childcare category in a way that had never been done before.

Tell us a bit about the founders: how did you meet?

LP: I've known my co-founders for years which has made this experience all the better. They each bring different skills and experience to the relationship, so that between us we have all the bases covered. What's been amazing to me is that we are several years into the business now and we all still admire each other and really enjoy working together.  

What surprised you the most in the process of developing the startup?

LP: I didn't really set out to start UrbanSitter. I was actually just embarking on a period of time off after my last job. Part of my plan was to spend more time with my young children and other parents in my community. As I thought about this business idea and ran it by more and more parents and babysitters, it became clear that there was a need for the business. The next thing I knew, I was putting together a team of co-founders and working on our MVP product.  

In your opinion, what is a leader's most important quality? 

LP: It's really tough to narrow it down to one quality. Top on my list would be ambition, transparency, humility, inspiration and resilience.  If I had to pick one quality from this list for a startup company leader it would probably be resilience.  There are so many stumbling blocks that occur along the way for startups. Whether you are running the company or part of one of the departments, you need resilience to pick yourself up when something goes wrong, figure out what to learn from the experience, incorporate that, and move on. As a leader, it's important to demonstrate resilience and to use the moments that don't go as planned as teaching opportunities for the rest of the company.

Who or what has been your biggest support in your work?

LP: My family and UrbanSitter colleagues have been my biggest supporters. Starting a business and having a family is tough to juggle. If it weren't for my husband's support, I'm not sure I could make it work. Not only does he play a huge role with our kids, but he's a good sounding board when I need advice and he’s probably my biggest champion. When I've been focused externally on fundraising, my co-founders and colleagues have either pitched alongside me or kept the company running and made sure the company culture is strong.

To become an UrbanSitter parent, you can pay $34.95 per month, or purchase a membership for $19.95 monthly (first month free) or $99.95 annually. Sitters and nannies set their rates at $11-16/hr, which they keep.

Image source: UrbanSitter


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