Have you heard about sittercity? Of course you have! They have been featured on The Today Show, CNN, Real Simple, Martha Stewart…I could go on. But did you know that sittercity is not only a resource for babysitters? You can also find: tutors, senior caregivers, dogwalkers, pet sitters and more. Sittercity is serious about finding just the right person for the job. They use a four-step screening process, have free access to background checks and even have video interviews. How helpful is that?
Sittercity is the brainchild of Woman Entrepreneur, Genevieve Thiers. She is the oldest of seven kids and two sets of twins. She and her twin have been babysitters and nannies for over 100 families in Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago. I’d say she is qualified to help you find the perfect care for your loved one, whether it be a child, a parent or a pet!
i know a mom :: What was the inspiration behind Sittercity? How did you come up with the idea?
genevieve :: As a college student in Boston, I worked my way through school babysitting for over 30 families. One fateful day, I saw a pregnant woman slowing climbing the nearly 200 steps to Boston College’s upper campus to post flyers for a babysitting job. Horrified, I asked the mother-to-be for the flyers, sent her home and posted them myself. While papering the university, I had an epiphany. What if there was one central place where parents could meet all of the sitters and nannies in that city? And with this, Sittercity was born.
i know a mom :: Was there a great deal of time between the initial idea and start-up?
genevieve :: In September 2001, I put the 30 families I sat for in college onto Sittercity.com. On the very first day of the launch, Sittercity received its first outside parent registration – and things exploded from there. Within that first week, gifts of cookies and cake from thrilled Boston-area parents flooded the Sittercity office, in appreciation for the much-needed service. Sittercity also began to take on an educational component right away, with speaking engagements and press engagements to educate parents about childcare etiquette.
Six months after the launch, I realized the database had spread beyond Boston to Cleveland and New York City. As simple word of mouth was responsible for 76% of its new users, Sittercity watched as word spread throughout the nation, literally running after markets as they began to gain speed. City after city was added to the database, threatening parents nationwide with the loss of their main excuse for missing social outings. By 2004, Sittercity.com was national, and its SpeedSitting events—modeled after speed-dates, were getting attention in everything from local press to major talk shows. By 2005, Sittercity’s corporate program took off as a corporate childcare benefit, with a full-page article in the Wall Street Journal and companies like Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Avon, Mastercard, Northwestern University, Kindred Healthcare, Monster WW, FOX Networks and more jumping on board.
i know a mom :: WOW! Can you tell me about an obstacle you had in the beginning and how you overcame it?
genevieve :: Modeling Sittercity.com after online dating websites, I enthusiastically took my idea to investors in 2000. After hearing statements like “my wife handles that” and “it’s a babysitters club,” I bought the Sittercity.com domain and hired two friends to create the website. To attract babysitters, I printed 20,000 flyers and covered the city of Boston on foot. To raise money for the site launch, i worked full-time at IBM as an editor and XML programmer. Not only did i get one too many blisters, she also gained 600 sitters before the site’s launch!
i know a mom :: What was the best piece of advice when you were starting Sittercity?
genevieve :: Talk to people…find someone that knows what you need to know and get them to lunch!
i know a mom :: Great advice – I second that! It’s always an encouragement to talk to someone who is successful, even more so, if he/she is successful in the same field as you. How do you balance work and family life?
genevieve :: Have something else that’s as important as work. That will help keep perspective on a balanced life. I am also a trained opera singer, so I always make sure I take time out of my week to enjoy that. For me, it’s a lot easier to have a work-life balance as my husband is COO of our company. We consider ourselves “couple-preneurs.” Lots of pillow talk is spent discussing how to improve the company and ideas about the future.
i know a mom :: What is your favorite way to spend a day off?
genevieve :: In opera rehearsal! Then maybe taking a little break by going swimming in my husband’s parents pool.
Thanks Genevieve – you are filling a huge need for families everywhere!