Modern parents have to juggle multiple things at once, which makes finding the right babysitter more of a challenge. Parents typically rely on family, friends or word of mouth to find sitters, hoping that someone will be available on short notice and at an affordable rate.
Many other consumer services are just a smartphone tap away, so it’s easy to see why this old-fashioned experience can be frustrating for parents. Tommy Mayfield, founder and CEO of childcare hiring platform Wyndy, is hoping to fill that gap in the market.
Wyndy’s mobile platform moves this process into the digital era, allowing parents to find a sitter who matches their criteria, whether that means availability, rating or even a specific college major. After finishing their applications and passing background checks, sitters can use the app to search for safe, reliable part-time work.
The goal, Mayfield told PYMNTS in a recent interview, is to modernize the process for hiring a sitter.
“It occurred to us that we were living in this world where we had apps like Lyft … where we could get a ride or get our groceries delivered [with] the tap of a button. … [We wondered,] why wasn’t there an app that could make it just as easy for me to get a trusted babysitter?” he said.
Serving Parents and Sitters Alike
Wyndy’s website launched in January 2017, and the company officially opened for business that November. Its headquarters is in Mayfield’s hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. Wyndy’s app, which serves parents and caregivers, is now available on the App Store and Google Play in seven markets in the southeastern United States.
To join the service, users first build app profiles, filling in information about their babysitting experience, or the age of their children and their location. Both parties can then use those profiles to post or search for jobs.
For Wyndy to be successful, parents must feel confident that it can be trusted for childcare needs. Mayfield explained that the company builds that trust in three key ways, including how it chooses its sitters.
“We tapped into a trusted segment of the population: full-time college or graduate students,” Mayfield said, noting that each sitter goes through a background check and personal review before they’re accepted. “We’ve done the vetting process for parents.”
The app helps parents engineer connections through various features, including a social element that lets them communicate and discuss sitters they’ve used before. Parents can also see sitters’ ratings and how many times they’ve been booked.
“Before Wyndy, a trusted recommendation from a friend was the most likely scenario where you’d get a new babysitter,” Mayfield said. “We’ve sort of taken that concept and put technology on top of it.”
Creating the Mobile Experience
Moving from a word-of-mouth experience to a mobile one is tricky but necessary, as more consumers rely on their smartphones for daily needs — especially millennials, more of whom are starting to have children.
Wyndy’s app covers all facets of booking, from finding a sitter to managing payment. Sitters set an in-app timer for the duration of each job, and parents set their hourly rates. Stripe handles the transaction, meeting sitters’ desires for easier and faster payments and providing a service that parents will likely recognize from other apps, like Lyft or Shift.
“Through our integration with Stripe, the sitters all set up their own Stripe account, so the money just flows through Stripe,” Mayfield said. “The portion that goes to us, goes to us. And the portion that goes to the sitter, goes to the sitter’s account.”
Wyndy takes a small service fee, which varies but is always less than 10 percent, from each transaction. Modern consumers expect payment options from their mobile apps, Mayfield noted, making the Stripe integration necessary.
This combination of speed and convenience is a recurring theme in a modern payments experience from companies like Stripe and instant money company Ingo Money, serving as an aid in adoption, customer engagement, fees and more.
“Today’s 20-year-olds expect that the world works with [mobile] marketplaces,” Mayfield said. “We’re now seeing the benefit of that transition into the smartphone world, even on the parents’ side.”
Mayfield said the company will continue to monitor mobile trends, especially as newer parents, including some who were raised to meet all of their needs through online and mobile services, come into the market.
What Comes Next
Mayfield said the company plans to build out its team and expand. It recently closed a million-dollar seed round of funding, which will help it reach new markets and create new features.
“Our long-term goal is to build that machine and hopefully raise a larger round [and] try to replicate this in many more markets,” Mayfield said. “There’s $15 billion a year spent on babysitting, and about 97 percent of that is still spent on the traditional, old-school, meet-random-people-and-put-them-in-your phone [way].”
Online and mobile services are increasingly becoming the norm, and that $15 billion-a-year industry is no exception. Mayfield said the word-of-mouth nature of the business would likely soon give way to an online and mobile-driven market, with or without Wyndy.
“In five years, if it’s not Wyndy, it’s going to be something,” he said. “I think this is a trend that’s going to continue, and we’re excited to pursue it.”
As parents, college students and general consumers continue their mobile migration, moving services like babysitting to smartphones will be a key way for companies to keep up with shifting expectations.