Parenting young children involves a lot of logistics, including what to do with them when you need to run a last-minute errand, go to an appointment or just have a few hours to decompress. For parents who don’t have friends or relatives they can call on for babysitting, this can be tricky. Bambino wants to help by connecting parents with nearby babysitters who have already been recommended by their friends and neighbors.
The iOS and Android app, which is free to sign up for, is active in 35 cities and building networks in another 15. The Santa Monica-headquartered startup is now hiring community managers with the goal of adding five new communities every month. It currently has about 20,000 users in total, divided relatively evenly between parents and babysitters, says founder and chief executive officer Sean Greene.
Greene decided to start working on a babysitter app after a fruitless evening spent calling people to watch his kids so he could go out after a long day at work. While driving home, he realized that there had to be a lot of teenagers and young adults living in his neighborhood who wanted babysitting jobs, but he didn't know how to connect with them.
Besides the usual word-of-mouth referrals, many parents rely on Care.com, the biggest site for babysitters and nannies, or postings on Nextdoor’s private social networks for neighborhoods. Bambino combines the two ideas in one: it lets parents find nearby babysitters who have already sat for people they know, saving them time without sacrificing their peace of mind.
Parents “shouldn’t have to feel guilty for wanting some free time, and we shouldn’t have to pay tons of money for a professional nanny service to help out on occasion,” Greene says. “I started Bambino because I wanted to find good, honest, trustworthy babysitters in and around my neighborhood that my friends had used, and it’s worked."
Bambino, however, is far from the only babysitting app out there. A couple of the better known ones include UrbanSitter and SitterCity, but Greene claims that they don’t “emulate the tried and true method of asking a friend or neighbor” as well as Bambino does.
“UrbanSitter and SitterCity are primarily job boards,” he says. “Parents post a job, random sitters view those jobs and apply to ones they are interested in and parents can choose from those that applied. It’s like posting on Craigslist or Monster.”
Instead of creating a posting on Bambino, parents pick who sees their babysitting requests. When parents search for a babysitter on the app, its sorts results by sitters they already know, sitters who their friends know and finally by distance.
In order to use Bambino to find babysitting gigs, sitters need to sign up with their Facebook profiles and already have a recommendation from someone in the community. Greene says babysitters also need to agree to reviews of their profiles for quality and random checks of their social media footprint. Bambino has a payment tool that tracks the duration of a babysitting session and lets parents send money to babysitters, who set their own rates, through the app.
“We have a fairly strict process for activating sitters and only one-third of those that register actually become active,” Greene says.
Babysitters on Bambino range in age from 13 to 60, but most are in their twenties and include college students and people with jobs that give them the flexibility to take babysitting gigs. Bambino gives about one to three percent “Elite Sitter” designation, which they have achieved a five-star rating on enough bookings, maintain a good reliability rating, respond promptly to requests and have recommendations from active Bambino users. Elite Sitters also need to pass a formal background check paid for by Bambino and be at least 18.
“Bambino was founded on the principle that we generally trust those who live around us,” Greene says. “As neighbors, we rely on each other. We are creating a private social network around neighborhood childcare and we’re doing so with all of the modern convenience factors of a mobile app. Unlike with Care.com, at Bambino, we try to keep it personal.”