In early 2015, Avni Patel found herself at a familiar crossroads for entrepreneurs. Sheâ€™d left a corporate brand development career to launch a startup â€” and it wasnâ€™t going well.
Between her strugglingÂ business and two small children, Patel forgot to book a babysitter for an important event. She tried her usual roster and then violated an unspoken rule among parents. She asked to borrow her friendsâ€™ sitters but still had no luck.
â€œIt baffled me that in this day and age every family was on their own in this most fundamental area,â€ she said. â€œEvery family was inefficiently trying to find their own sitters that they hoarded zealously, lest they be stuck without care when they needed it.â€
Out of this crucial moment, Poppy was born. PatelÂ decided to cut her losses with startup number one and build an on-demand childcare platform instead. Poppy curates a list of verified caregivers, by neighborhood. When parents need childcare, they can access a roster of sitters theyâ€™re familiar with via text or the Poppy app.
Poppy recently closed a fundraising round of $589,305 from several Seattle angel investors, Madrona Venture Group, and Y Combinator.Â The service is currently serving neighborhoods from Wedgwood to West Seattle and Queen Anne. On Monday, Poppy launches on the Eastside, starting with Bellevue and Sammamish.
â€œWe built out the Poppy platform that allowed us to continue to grow, while maintaining the highest standards in childcare vetting in the industry,â€ said Patel. â€œWhat started as a test now has the chance to be something that solves childcare for parents around the country and I am so incredibly excited about that.â€
Sitters are rigorously vetted by the Poppy team. Theyâ€™re required to have at least five years of childcare experience, pass a video interview process, and provide three outstanding references before landing an in-person interview. Those that make it to the onboarding process are provided with CPR and first aid training.
Rates for childcare are fixed by Poppy, at $16/hour for one child, $17/hour for two, and so forth. According to Patel, taking on the pricing and vetting process has provided value to both caregivers and parents.
â€œFor us the singular thing that the whole team is focused on, every single day is: Where do we find the very best people? How do we set them up for success and give them what they need to make every single booking an amazing one for parents? Because that dedication is what has gotten our parents to rave about Poppy,â€ Patel said.
Editorâ€™s note: GeekWire Chairman and PicMonkey CEO Jonathan Sposato is an investor in Poppy Care.