HopSkipDrive, a rideshare company that focuses on getting children to school on time, has raised $22 million to expand on its mission to provide transportation to those who might not otherwise have it, especially homeless and foster children, according to a report.
The Los Angeles-based company was started by Co-founder and CEO Joanna McFarland. Any driver who wants to work with the company must have five years of childcare experience, and the majority of the company’s 1099 contractors are women.
The startup has addressed what McFarland calls a serious need in many school systems, helping to ensure that children have transportation to school. “Particularly challenging for [school districts] are children with specialized needs or homeless children who are moving around a lot but have the same right to get to school,” she told the news outlet. “It’s hard to re-route school buses, so we help schools with alternative transportation.”
McFarland said her company is much different than a typical ridesharing company like Uber.
“We’ve never considered ourselves comparable to Uber or Lyft. We’re really caregivers on wheels, providing a very different service,” she explained. “We work with families, but we also contract with school districts and counties, and that has a strong path to profitability. We can predict supply and demand; we’re [enjoying] contracted revenue. It’s very different.”
Also, McFarland said the firm’s drivers are carefully vetted, and they have a much different experience than on other platforms.
“Because they must have five years of caregiving experience and because of the vetting we do, 90 percent of them are female, and they love what they do because they’re driving in communities where their kids grew up and they’re tied to the mission of what we’re doing,” she noted.
To ensure safety, HopSkipDrive uses code words as well as tracking systems through GPS sensors.