24. July 2012–
Berlin-based online babysitting service Kinderfee just raised a six-figure angel investment round and plan to release an iPhone app in the next few months.
Kinderfee, like a wave of other startups in the US and Europe, wants to update classified job listings for the digital, social-networking age - in this case, to help parents in Germany find a babysitter. Parents can browse profiles, book and pay through the Kinderfee platform; Kinderfee takes a cut and makes sure babysitters are properly screened (ID checks, interviews, opportunity for parents to personally meet sitters or listen to recorded interviews).
“We never understood the business model of the existing classified players in the space," co-founder Stefan Gärtner said in a statement this week. "We don’t believe that simply selling a caregiver’s contact details provides sufficient added value for families."
The company also provides complementary insurance for both children and sitter (obviously a situation all sides will do their best to avoid).
Since Gärtner and co-founder Daan Loening started Kinderfee in 2011, the service has grown to over 7,500 available babysitters and nannies and "several hundred active parents" using the service each month. Loening told GigaOM that bookings on the site are growing by 50 per cent per month.
The upcoming mobile app has been in development since the Berlin Mobile App Olympics in February and will provide check-ins and message functions.
Also on the cards is deeper Facebook integration, to add an extra layer of trust through Facebook friends' recommendations and for Kinderfee to check out the social graph of sitters (not in a creepy way, Loening assures me).
Kinderfee's latest financial backers includes Hitmeister founder Gerald Schönbucher and Wooga head of operations Jan Miczaika, who has said the company is in a "unique position to capture and change the European childcare market in upcoming years".
The Spotify effect: late's fine with the right product
A UK launch is on Loening's mind but he wants to make sure the team get it right in Germany first, rather than rush to head-off potential rivals (such as UrbanSitter in the US) . "We believe you have to have the perfect product first," he says.
"Just look at music streaming service Spotify", he says - despite their outrageously late launch in Germany, now "everyone I know is using it".
It's an interesting contrast to the game-on, territory-grabbing tactics of DropGifts and Wrapp, or Uber in Europe. But when you're dealing with childcare, it pays to get things right the first time - Loening and Gärtner are clearly backing Kinderfee to do just that.