An enterprising mom in California had an idea for an application that would be similar to OpenTable or Yelp, but for babysitters. Using Facebook’s platform as a vehicle, Lynn Perkins started UrbanSitter about a year-and-a-half ago. So far, there are 15,000 babysitters in the program and 50,000 families — a number that grows as the platform rolls out to more cities. The app and website allow families (largely in areas such as San Francisco, New York, and Boston), to find college-aged babysitters, and to see who their Facebook friends have hired to take care of their kids.
Perkins knew when she got the idea that she had to make sure it was Facebook-integrated. The app doesn’t take any personal data from users’ Facebook profiles, simply using them as a means for verification. There’s a one-click (or tap) Facebook login option, which allows babysitters to easily create profiles on UrbanSitter, as well as recruit friends who also have experience with babysitting.
Parents can scan through babysitters in their area to see who would be available and in their price range. The app also lets them know if they’re connected to anyone on the parents’ Facebook friend list, or if they have watched any of their friends’ kids. If a babysitter is unavailable, the parent can see if the person has any friends who are registered through the site and available. Parents can leave reviews for babysitters through the app, as well as post them to Facebook with Open Graph actions.
Perkins told AllFacebook that both parents and babysitters have embraced having Facebook as the login mechanism. The babysitters are usually college students who have several other Facebook-connected apps on their phones, and most moms in these urban settings are increasingly tech-savvy.
UrbanSitter also has a very active Facebook page, with more than 15,000 fans, and a private group with roughly 1,800 babysitters.
Perkins talked with AllFacebook about the importance of launching this app with Facebook connectivity:
For some reason, all of a sudden, it just dawned on me that finding a sitter is very antiquated. The same way you find a restaurant reservation, you should be able to find a sitter. I had seen all these sites that were leveraging Facebook Connect, so you could see what your friends were doing. As a parent, I realized that of all the things I make a decision on, who I leave my kids with is probably one of the most important trust decisions. Where do I want my friends’ opinions? I want it when it comes to childcare help and parenting decisions.
Readers: Have you ever used UrbanSitter?