*This post is sponsored – but the thoughts and feelings are our own, and we only work with businesses we believe to be reputable and resourceful to our readers.
To all those moms who’ve figured out how to be in two (or three, or seven) places at once: Congratulations! You and your clones can probably stop reading this now.
For the rest of us, there is hope in the form of services like Kango, a San Francisco startup that provides rides and babysitting services for kids from its stable of background-checked, fingerprinted caregivers throughout the Bay Area. The app-based service is available for a monthly subscription, and is open to kids of any age (though Kango asks that children under 2 are accompanied by a parent or guardian); it even provides car seats or booster seats, if needed, for no additional cost. Another feature allows users to connect with other nearby parents to arrange carpools or play dates.
Kango aims to provide a reliable helping hand so parents don’t have to pick and choose between competing obligations. As one parent user notes, “I work full time, so I thought I’d have to skip opportunities for my kids that are offsite from school/after-school care…so finding out about Kango was great!”
Kango also prides itself on the quality of its caregivers—people for whom this isn’t just a paycheck. “Our Kango driver lets us know when there is any issue, whether a skinned knee or a disagreement with a friend, and has demonstrated that she can address these small issues in a way that I’m comfortable with as a parent,” shares another user. “Though I’ve had some wonderful Uber drivers, I can’t imagine that they could all consistently resolve a Pokemon disagreement!”
Kango co-founder and CEO Sara Schaer, a mom of two boys (ages 12 and 14), spent 10 years at the online photo and video company Snapfish before leaving in 2011 to pursue her own product idea, which itself stemmed from needs and frustrations she was experiencing as a busy working Bay Area mom. (For example, the end of the school day comes hours before the end of most work days.)
Schaer shares her journey with San Francisco Moms Blog.
SFMB: What was the “aha” moment that led you to start Kango?
Sara Schaer: The “aha” moment came when, as a working mom, I suddenly realized how dependent I had become on my smartphone. It allowed me to juggle work when on the go. I wished somehow it could be equally helpful with managing my kids! I knew that kids needed caregivers—real people—so I set about trying to create something that would be a blend of the two: mobile technology and prescreened, qualified, trustworthy drivers and sitters.
SFMB: How did your previous work experience help prepare you for this latest venture?
SS: From my previous jobs, I learned about creating a product from scratch – the importance of making a prototype and iterating based on early customer feedback. At the very beginning, I would talk to moms and show them sketches of what I imagined Kango would look like on a phone, and what it would do, to see if they would find it useful. I did this everywhere I went—Starbuck’s, waiting to pick up my kids from summer camp, at school, on field trips, everywhere!
SFMB: How has your perspective and experience as a mom helped you as a businesswoman?
SS: In this case, being a parent definitely helped me to know and understand our target market’s needs from personal experience. It also gave me access to groups of parents who would use Kango. Having my own kids use Kango as passengers – making me a customer of our own service – allows me to put myself in our customers’ shoes. That also matters to parents from a trust-building perspective. Many of them have asked me if my own kids ride with Kango. They do!
Check out Kango at www.kangoapp.co