UrbanSitter, which recently raised $15 million in Series B funding, is expanding its reach to include nannies as it continues to grow to more than a dozen cities across the U.S. The online service for parents and sitters to connect via Facebook will also start incorporating the LinkedIn platform as soon as the fall of 2014.
UrbanSitter, which leverages Facebook Connect so parents can connect with sitters that their friends know or have already used, will add nannies to the search. The nanny addition is already in private beta in San Francisco and will be launching nationwide by the end of the year.
UrbanSitter is more like OpenTable.com than Care.com in that it lets you search for sitters in real-time. So, for example, if you need a sitter Saturday night from 6pm to 10pm, UrbanSitter will show you all the sitters that are available at that time and then rank them for you based on how you’re connected to them.
“The same way you’d get a word of mouth referral offline, we put that online,” Perkins said. “We couple trusted connections you’d get from calling a friend, combined with the efficiency of OpenTable.”
One particularly unique feature coming out in a few weeks is a booking flow tool that allows users to put in back up sitter requests. So, for example, if you’re top sitter doesn’t respond in two hours, the request will get sent to your second choice and so on until someone responds.
“This came out of this idea that parents have a long to-do list in their head and they can’t check off that babysitter until it’s set,” Perkins said. “So rather than text three or four people, let’s just make it automated.”
UrbanSitter is also integrating the LinkedIn platform as a way to sign in so that co-workers recommendations can also be integrated in the sitter search.
“It might mean just as much to you if you work at American Express and you can see what sitters your co-workers have used- as they have the same kind of weight as your friends, we also recognize that not everyone uses Facebook anymore or ever has so we’re adding LinkedIn as one of the ways you can sign in,” Perkins said.
UrbanSitter makes money either by charging parents a premium subscription of $99.99 per year for unlimited bookings or through a $15 charge for access to one sitter. While the one-time “finders-fee” gives access to only one sitter, there is no limit to how many times the parent can use that sitter. As for sitters, they choose their own rates and payment goes through UrbanSitter via credit card (a nice luxury over fumbling for exact cash).
Perkins said that recent $15 million raise was necessary as they haven’t become profitable yet but feel they are “at a turning point.” The company has grown dramatically since its inception in 2011 in San Franscisco, boasting over 120,000 users with a repeat use rate of over 70 percent. Urban Sitter, which has a presence in 60 cities, is focused on 12 cities for now.
Aside from adding the LinkedIn platform and nannies to its search engine, UrbanSitter is also focused on enhancing its mobile experience in order to give sitters more tools to “make the job easier”. UrbanSitter, which is available on iOS and has a mobile responsive site, will soon roll out on Android as well.