I read a fascinating article recently about a startup in the US called HopSkipDrive. This is the “Uber” for children – and hopefully one that doesn’t come with the reputation that Uber has built for itself in many areas (geographically and morally).
The idea came to a woman who had spent time at a children’s birthday party bemoaning the fact that all she did was to shuttle her kids around. Other mums at the gathering all agreed that it was a crazy situation. One had joked that they should club together and buy a minivan to run the kids around in. Instead, an idea was born to provide an Uber style system where a parent can book a car and take little Johnny (or Janet) to playdates, sports or other events.
My parents did this 40 years ago – only they agreed with other parents in the area to share the workload by scheduling school runs and other activities, knowing that a number of local families would be attending an event. Clearly in modern times, you don’t do that, instead you have a car pick up the children and deliver them to the venue.
HopSkipDrive has had to do a fair bit of work just to get going. Apart from signing up parents and drivers, it has had to ensure that the drivers are certified to work with children and have a clean record with the authorities.
ZŪM is another entrant to this market in the US that provides a service with greater security and metrics sent to parents about the journey taken. This is designed to reduce the risk of the child being left with a non-family member.
A number of other entities have tried this model and have failed due to capitalise on the idea – often due to costs and simply by gaining a poor reputation from parents who complained about lateness of vehicles or other issues that stressed them out. Even Uber would like to get into this market – what markets do they not want to target?
The article I read suggested that this market is worth US$50B a year! Now you can understand why Uber is so keen. What surprises me is that if this figure is true, then there are a lot of parents willing to pay to have someone else be their children’s chauffeur.