We all know that being a mom is a tough gig. From teaching your baby how to sleep through the night and breastfeeding even when you’re away to convincing yourself your kiddos are going to turn out okay, motherhood is a full-time job. And no one knows that better than Lauren Mansell, a 28-year-old mom and CEO and founder of the startup Hello Sitter. The company is bringing on-demand, reliable and easy-to-access babysitting services straight to New York moms’ smartphones. We caught up with Lauren to talk about her inspiration for Hello Sitter and how she juggles her little one with running her company (AKA baby #two).
B+C: What were you up to before creating Hello Sitter?
LM: I used to work in the fashion industry as a model agent and a scout, but left when I realized I wanted to create something of my own. I initially thought that my company would be a clothing range of some sort, but in the midst of trying to work it out, I needed to use sitters in order to have time to research and take meetings. I had a lot of trouble finding flexible and reliable sitters in NYC.
B+C: Where did the inspiration for the app come from?
LM: It came from a personal need! Both my husband and I are from the UK and have no family here in New York City, so I can’t lean on them for help with my daughter. I had a couple of regular sitters, but they started to become unreliable. When I really needed a great sitter to cover as I tried to start a company, I couldn’t find one. And so the idea of Hello Sitter was born! I had this dream of bringing the best sitters — highly experienced and fully vetted — to all parents in the most convenient way (an app!). With Hello Sitter, I want to give parents the knowledge that there will always be someone available when they need them.
B+C: Can you walk us through how Hello Sitter works?
LM: Hello Sitter takes all of the work and stress out of finding a sitter. To use the app, you simply input details about your child and the qualities that you’re looking for in a sitter. Then select the date and time you need childcare, and a list of three available sitters uniquely suited to your child will appear. Parents can view photos, videos and additional details about the sitters to get to know them, and booking and payment are completed instantly through the app. Sitters’ calendars are updated in real-time and parents will only be matched with sitters who are available at the selected time.
All of our sitters go through a rigorous application process, after which they’re required to come in for an in-person interview so we can discuss their exact experiences. We also run an extensive background check and verify three childcare-related references. I personally onboard every sitter onto the app so that I know all the information is relevant and accurate. Finally, the majority of our sitters come from a membership-only boutique agency Hello Sitter partnered with that’s been running for 10 years, which allows parents to enjoy the service and quality of a luxury agency in a more convenient way.
B+C: Any plans to expand outside of NYC?
LM: In the future, we would love to expand to other cities, but currently we’re just focusing on making it the best sitter service in New York.
B+C: What challenges does Hello Sitter solve for parents and what makes it stand out from other care providers?
LM: Hello Sitter solves the time-consuming and stressful aspects of finding a sitter. We’ve created a place where you can search for someone you can trust as little as an hour out, if need be, and be matched with people that are available, curated to your children’s needs (including any special needs), have experience with your child’s age group and have the top five qualities you’d like to see in a sitter’s style (like creative, patient, etc.).
We’re different because we care. Safety and quality are our top priority, which is why we commit to selectively choosing which sitters can be on our platform, rather than allowing anyone to sign up.
B+C: You seem *pretty* involved in the day-to-day. What’s the most stressful part of your day and what brings you the most joy?
LM: When I speak to parents who loved the experience or read positive reviews of bookings — that makes all the stress worth it! The most stressful thing is just trying to fit in everything that needs doing, as well as what I want to get done, before I HAVE to go to sleep.
B+C: What’s the most difficult part about being a mom AND running a startup?
LM: You essentially have another baby. You have your real child, who you love more than anything. You want to be the best parent, to be present and patient and around for every moment. And then you have your work baby, who needs just as much attention. It can be hard to balance both without feeling like you’re failing a little at one of them. It’s a constant battle and I just try not to be too hard on myself.
B+C: You’re working in the tech space, an arena unfortunately lacking a bit in female diversity. What challenges do you face and how can women become more involved in the industry?
LM: I think this applies to all areas of business, not just the technology space, but to me one of the greatest challenges that women face is perceptions around starting a family. Women are judged on our age and our desire to have children, and this can cause us to miss out on opportunities that are given to men. Wanting a family is never seen as a weakness in a man, so why should it ever be seen that way in a woman? Men and women alike can have families and still be incredibly successful in the workplace, and it should not hold anyone back, whether they’re working in the tech space or elsewhere.
B+C: What does the future look like for Hello Sitter?
LM: I hope the future holds great success! For the immediate future, we hope that every parent in NYC will be using Hello Sitter.
B+C: Best advice for fellow #mombosses?
LM: Keep at it! Every day brings challenges and there’ll be times when you feel like you’re missing out, but remember you’re showing your children that women are powerful and independent, and that they can achieve whatever they put their minds to.
Calling all #mombosses, tweet us how you handle it all @BritandCo!
(Photos via Hello Sitter)