Wearing a baby at a party led one frustrated mama to create an innovative new local business that might holds the answer legions of parents are looking for. A little over a year ago, Avni Patel slipped on her BabyBjörn, inserted her 4-month-old, and attended a good friend’s birthday party after she couldn’t find a babysitter.
“It dawned on me how inefficient it is for families to find trustworthy child care. The whole situation is anxiety driven,” says Patel, who also has a preschooler. “My husband and I both work full time and live away from family, so we’ve always had to string together child care. We are all one text or call away from [child care] unraveling. Every single family is out on their own to find and vet and manage their care.”
Patel decided to let go of her first struggling start up and found Poppy, an on-demand child-care service platform that started serving caregivers in her local neighborhood of Seattle, Madison Park, about a year ago. Unlike marketplace babysitter websites where the burden of finding and vetting candidates falls on the users, Poppy vets child-care professionals for you, Patel says.
The site is not a listing website or a nanny agency. Instead, when you first sign up, you tell Poppy exactly what you need in a sitter, and then Poppy builds a team of two to three sitters tailored to your family. Then when you need a sitter, you text that need and snap, it’s almost like you called Mary Poppins and she showed up on your doorstep.
In fact, the name Poppy is a cross between Mary Poppins and the terms nanny and poppy, which are what grandparents are called in several countries and cultures. The name is a double play off of your ideal caregiver (Poppins) and the fact that raising children takes a village but many of us don’t have grandparents nearby to fill part of that village role, Patel says.
And even if your child’s grandparents are around, chances are they haven’t gone through the seven-step vetting process that each sitter endures to be on the official Poppy roster. See what it takes to be Poppy-certified here.
Since Poppy opened online, it’s expanded to include 12 Seattle neighborhoods and five cities on the Eastside. Investors believe in Patel’s dream of taking this service nationwide. “Poppy recently closed a fundraising round of $589,305 from several Seattle angel investors, Madrona Venture Group, and Y Combinator,” writes Monica Nickelsburg in GeekWire.
Beyond this good news for parents who really need trusted caregivers to watch their offspring this Friday night, the most righteous factoid about Poppy is that their babysitter rates are at market value for our area. Rates start at $16 for one child and $17 for two children. That is enough good news to make me want to dance with a chimney sweep up to the highest heights. While the children stay at home with their (Poppy-certified) sitter.