Four Parent-preneurs Launch the OpenTable of Online Babysitting Services

Learn how Lynn Perkins and her co-founders launched the OpenTable for babysitting services and why she believes entrepreneurs should always surround themselves with great people.

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Moms and dads across the United States may not have to look any further to book qualified babysitters. In fact, it’s likely that they’ll find it as easy as booking a dinner date — with the click of a mouse.

Realizing first-hand, the pains associated with finding a trusted caregiver for her children Lynn Perkins, Stanford University graduate and Co-founder and CEO of UrbanSitter, launched the online babysitter booking service alongside three co-founders (and busy parents) last year.

By leveraging members’ trusted networks to match families with caregivers, UrbanSitter delivers on the Bay-area founders’ mission to use technology to power a faster, more personal babysitting service. “With $10 billion spent on babysitters last year and 300 million sitter bookings occurring each year in the U.S., there is clearly an enormous business opportunity here,” says Perkins.

“But more importantly, we are making parents’ lives easier because until now, there hasn’t been an easy way to find and book a trusted sitter. We think that UrbanSitter is to babysitting what OpenTable is to restaurant reservations.”

Unlike other national childcare websites, parents can view sitters they know—as well as sitters their friends know—and book them in real-time. Operating in beta since July 2011 the site has  acquired more than 400 sitters.

This year, the online babysitting service secured $1.75 million in seed funding. Led by First Round Capital, with participation from Rustic Canyon Partners, Menlo Ventures and several angel investors, the funds will further UrbanSitter’s mission to make booking a trusted sitter as easy as booking dinner reservations. The company has also recently expanded to San Diego, Napa Valley and Sonoma, Seattle, Boulder and Lake Tahoe, and will extend to New York, Chicago, Denver and St. Louis this year.

Learn how Lynn Perkins and her co-founders launched the OpenTable for babysitting services and why she believes entrepreneurs should always surround themselves with great people.

Company: UrbanSitter
Founder(s): Lynn Perkins, Daisy Down, Andrea Barrett, Hadar Wissotzky
Location: San Francisco, CA
Industry: Other
Startup Year: 2010
Startup Costs: $90,000

How We Got Started:

I had my ‘aha moment’ at home on a Saturday night while my friends enjoyed a dinner reservation that I had booked — all because I couldn’t find a babysitter for my twin boys. It seemed to me that parents should be able to find and book a trusted sitter as quickly as you can find and book a date night restaurant reservation.

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