It happens often. The stars align and busy working parents discover they have an unexpected opening in their schedule for a date night out. Excitement ensues; fun options are explored. But wait. The trusted babysitter is already booked and there’s little time to find another good one.
What to do?
“Go to the Sitter-Hub website, of course!” smiles Ryan Cummins. “Solving the challenge parents have of finding a reliable network of trustworthy quickly and easily is the whole reason we started this service.”
Cummins is one of the team of four Barrington High School students who developed Sitter-Hub, a service designed to connect Barrington families with local, quality teen sitters. Along with Cummins, Addison Perri, Emma Juffernbruch, and Olivia Lageschulte conceived the idea in Barrington High School’s Business Incubator class, and spent their junior year developing a solid business model for the service. In May, the concept for Sitter-Hub won a $9,500 funding grant from the Barrington 220 Education Foundation, to make the business a reality.
The founding team couldn’t be happier, busy now and through their senior year with building web presence for the concept through social media and a snappy, easy-to-use website, and vetting top-notch teen sitters who will provide the childcare services for Sitter-Hub.
There are already 60 teens participating. In addition to offering quality sitting, they bring a wide variety of skills and personality strengths that give clients a customizable experience.
Here’s how it works: Clients either email the service, or, access Sitter-Hub through its website.
They fill out a form that lists the date and time of the requested booking, plus the number and ages of the children to be cared for. Once a request for a booking is made to Sitter-Hub, the leadership team forwards the request to the sitters in its network. When it knows who is available, the team then responds to the client with “About Me” personality profiles of three of the best-matching available sitters.
Based on the profiles, which tell parents about sitter interests and activities, the client then gets to choose the person they think best fits their kids and situation.
“We conducted a lot of market research preparing Sitter-Hub,” says Cummins, “and we found that trustworthiness and reliability were more important than finding a last-minute babysitter. But that said, we know that there are times when finding a good babysitter in a short amount of time, matters. We’d like to have at least a day’s notice, but we have been able to do a booking in less than 8 hours. It’s just there’s no guarantee we can find someone if the notice is too short.”
Sitter-Hub’s hourly rate is very affordable: $11 per hour for the first child, plus $2 for an additional child. Payments are handled through Venmo, with clients paying the sitters directly. Sitters pay Sitter-Hub 10 percent of their earnings, in order to be a part of the program and to help keep it running.
“We give clients their first Sitter-Hub booking free of the subscription price, but after that, they have to pay a $50 subscription that gives unlimited access to use our service for six months,” says Juffernbruch.
Because ratings matter, “After every sitting job, we ask clients for feedback on both our service and our sitters,” adds Cummins.
As development of the website and service continues to ramp up during the founding team’s senior year in the Business Incubator class, there will be a rating/reviewing system built in.
“This will allow parents to see which babysitters receive good reviews and which fit their needs best,” says Juffernbruch.
Because safety and reliability are of utmost importance, Sitter-Hub not only provides parents with detailed profiles about sitter interests and activities (sports, arts, music, crafts, etc.), it also includes babysitters’ certifications—such as CPR and First Aid, and lifeguarding. Additionally, all babysitters must sign a contract agreeing that they will be respectful and responsible when babysitting through the service.
“They also agree to terms that state if they receive several complaints or bad reviews from parents, their profile will be removed from our database, so there is a built in incentive to do a quality job,” says Juffernbruch.
The feedback and experiences so far have all been positive, for parents and the Sitter-Hub team.
“To me, sitting is a very rewarding job because it allows me to connect with younger children and learn a little bit about their lifestyles,” says Juffernbruch. “I really enjoy playing with kids and doing activities, like playing soccer, that I did as a child, but don’t get the opportunity to do now, unless I’m babysitting.”
“We’re really excited to see where this goes,” says Cummins. “There’s a lot of potential.”