Raising a child is expensive and time-consuming. It is a financial fact of modern life that most parents look to family and friends around them to assist with childcare when possible. Shar Ghoudsifar is the Founder of Helpkin, a Los Angeles Founder Institute portfolio company that is disrupting the $53 billion childcare industry by activating parents’ networks of supporters.
One of the most well known African proverbs still rings true: it takes a village to raise a child. The phrase goes back so far in time that it’s even difficult to pinpoint its origin, yet now more than ever the phrase holds the same meaning. In today’s world, the rising costs of childcare, dual-income career tracks, and trends in grandparenting all make this phrase truer than ever.
According to PEW, by 2015 more than 2.9 million children were being raised by grandparents; the cost of childcare per year can often range between $20-34k; and average US maternity/paternity leave is nowhere close to covering full-time parenting requirements. Childcare Aware data shows that more than 11 million children under five-years-of-age are in some form of childcare in the United States. This is a significant added cost that many parents simply cannot afford - but also can’t afford not to use.
Helpkin is making it easier than ever to ask your village for support, getting help when you need it for watching your child (or even your fur-baby).
And with Helpkin, there is never any guilt involved—Helpkin works to activate your entire tribe of support without creating expectations regarding payment. The app is thoroughly grounded in the true ethos of the sharing economy, and even makes it easy to coordinate activities for your community of trusted caregivers, like carpools and playdates.
According to Helpkin Founder Shar Ghoudsifar,
I believe there is more room for sharing in the sharing economy. With all the latest peer-to-peer marketplaces, we’ve put a dollar sign on every person we interact with, and seem to have forgotten that there are still a few things we will do for each other for free, like babysitting, pet care, and elderly care. This gig economy incentivizes the masses by offering side income because they need it due to our current economic climate. However, the ones that need it the most (that have required costs from respective children, pets, or elderly), should have just as much access. Families now can see that their village has been hiding in plain sight all along, and are happy to help.
Helpkin is designed to save parents money while delivering some free time back into their busy lives—but not to outright replace primary childcare programs, or be misconstrued as a replacement for preschool or early childhood education. Because of Helpkin’s innovative platform though, it means that the occasional date night, long office hours, or weekend getaway can each happen more sporadically as they arise, and with less stress for parents.
The Helpkin app puts all the coordination tools in one place, making it easier than ever for parents to quickly facilitate all the needed arrangements within their personal village. From scheduling calendar integrations to view everyone’s availability to watch kids or pets, tools to coordinating pickups and drop-offs, and a single point for storing important emergency information, Helpkin is helping to simplify modern parenting. Ghoudsifar says,
We wanted to give lots of flexibility for people that live by their phone calendar (iPhone AND Google) or never use it at all. We allow them to import specific calendars (work, personal, spouse’s etc.), specific events (to avoid reminders, birthdays, etc.), and keep their calendar details private (so friends don’t see their scheduled date with Netflix). It was a fun challenge to overcome, and we’re constantly improving it!
While the team only launched their app in beta during Q4 of 2018, their user numbers have grown very quickly, and they are fully operational in both the greater Los Angeles and Orange County markets. Helpkin’s initial success is evident in the closing of their initial pre-seed round, with plans for a seed round in Q2 of 2019 now that the startup has demonstrated product-market fit. It is full steam ahead this year, as the company plans to bring on “passionate team members driven by product-driven growth and social impact, creating fun content marketing to inspire our dream, and building up school partnerships as a distribution channel.”
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