TechCrunch recently went down south to Los Angeles for our mini-meetup and to catch up with the region’s burgeoning tech scene.
One of the startups that caught our attention is HopSkipDrive, which aims to be an Uber for picking up your kids. Uber passengers need to be at least 18-years of age to ride alone, so HopSkipDrive hopes to solve a transportation problem for busy parents.
“We’re really filling a niche that isn’t in general rideshare,” CEO Joanna McFarland told TechCrunch in the above video. The three co-founders are all mothers and the team felt that “there had to be a better way” to get their children where they need to be.
Armed with $14 million in capital from Upfront Ventures, FirstMark Capital and others, the downtown Los Angeles-based startup hopes that they can provide a safe ridesharing option for children. With a focus on safety, the startup says it looks for drivers who double as caregivers.
“We’re incredibly proud of the 15 point safety certification process,” co-founder and head of policy Carolyn Yashari Becher told TechCrunch. She touted HopSkipDrive’s background checks and fingerprinting. She also emphasized that their drivers have prior experience working with children, ranging from nannies to teachers.
Unlike Uber, the app is not on-demand. Users pre-select times and schedule a driver for pickup.
Kids are told to select a secret password to ensure that the right driver picks them up and parents can follow along with their journey through the GPS-tracking on the app.
Yet while many parents empathize with the need for such a service, competitors like Shuddle found that the business was too difficult to execute. The startup recently shut down, with HopSkipDrive acquiring some of the remaining business.
But McFarland said that she believes HopSkipDrive will prevail because the “authenticity of the brand and who we are as founders” inspires the passion behind the service.
HopSkipDrive is currently available in Los Angeles and San Francisco. They hope to expand soon to other regions.