Written by Joanna McFarland
Parents share a universal sentiment – as children reach milestones, we naturally reflect on how far they’ve come. That’s one reason why graduations bring us to tears. It seems like just yesterday that it all began.
Starting a company is often compared to having a baby, and today marks a milestone for our baby, HopSkipDrive. We are now a venture-backed company, having raised $3.9 million in seed funding from Upfront Ventures, FirstMark Capital, Maveron, Built by Girls Ventures, angel investor Joanne Wilson, and others. While we are so excited for what the future holds, we can’t help but reflect on how far we’ve come.
Less than two years ago, two of us (Joanna and Janelle) were at a child’s birthday party, chatting with the other parents about how we all struggle with getting our kids to and from school and all of their activities. It was a real problem for everyone – for working parents and stay-at-home parents alike – because no one could figure out how to be in two places at once.
We were all scraping together solutions that weren’t really solutions. We were sneaking out of work early, arguing with our spouses over whose job was more important that day. We were cobbling together myriad carpools for each child, for each activity, and then praying nobody’s child got sick, causing the carpools to crumble. And sometimes, we were just not signing our kids up for things because we couldn’t figure out a way to get them there. In most cases, all we really needed was a safe, reliable driver to get our kids from point A to point B.
We were convinced there had to be a better way. A few months later, we met Carolyn. That another busy mother of three was thinking about solving this problem wasn’t surprising. The power of our partnership was. Three professional women with complementary business skills and the shared perspective as moms who understood that nothing was more important than keeping kids safe, led to the creation of an entirely new option for families. HopSkipDrive was born.
From the beginning, we knew it wouldn’t be easy. After all, there was a reason that no one had done it before. Sometimes, the hurdles seemed insurmountable. But from day one, it was clear we had no choice but to start this company. We were driven (pun intended) to create a solution that was safe enough for our own kids and that could help families all over the country. We worked day and night (pausing for family time, of course), overcame the challenges, ignored the naysayers, leaned on those who believed in us, and kept pushing forward.
Janelle’s son, Gus, was the first HopSkipDrive passenger. During that ride, nervously huddled around our monitors, watching him travel the streets of LA to get to gymnastics, we all understood how important parents’ peace of mind was for the HopSkipDrive experience.
We get it, because we live it. Our kids are in those cars, too. That’s why we think of safety at every step — before and during the ride, even behind the scenes. That’s why CareDrivers go through a 15-point certification process before driving our kids and your kids. That’s why we monitor every ride live in real-time. And that’s why we are the first and only rideshare company to fingerprint all of our drivers and require them to be members of the TrustLine registry, the gold standard for background checks for childcare workers in the State of California.
Those naysayers said we couldn’t create a scalable business with safety built into every aspect of what we do. Thousands of rides later, with hundreds of CareDrivers fully screened and fingerprinted and driving on our platform, we are proving them wrong every day.
With this funding, we will make using HopSkipDrive better than ever. We’re looking forward to building our team, making improvements to our app and heeding the calls for expansion around the country. This is just the beginning. There are many more milestones in our future. We can’t wait to share them with you!