Nounou Neighbors takes the fear out of the surprisingly cutthroat babysitting industry, said Molly Smalley, noting her online platform raised 200 percent client base growth in 2018.
“As a mom, finding [a babysitter] is exhausting and friends never want to give you their sitter,” laughed Molly, founder of the Kansas-based babysitting service with her husband, Cary Smalley. “You may not realize it, but it’s a unspoken thing. They’re afraid that you’ll start using their sitter and take them away. So, I started thinking that there must be a bunch of sitters right here in our area that we don’t even know about and are just waiting for a babysitting job.”
Nounou — French for “caregiver” — operates under a subscription service model, allowing members to post jobs that automatically are sent via texts to all available sitters, she said. Those sitters then have the option of being considered for the job, Smalley added.
Click here to learn more about Nounou Neighbors.
With the original idea beginning with her own curated list of trusted babysitters, Smalley quickly realized she held a crucial commodity unavailable on a similar sites: trust, she said.
“All the moms just want to know that someone has talked to them,” Smalley said, noting the group of 15 sitters that grew to 375 went through a vetting process of interviews and background checks before registration on the site.
Nounou provides a constant stream of help that many parents struggle to pin down since most sitters are of high school or college age, she said.
“It’s a constant revolving door,” she added. “[Sitters] grow up and if they’re anything worthwhile for us as families, they’re going to go on to bigger and better things. Our families don’t have to mess with [the fear] of when ‘Macy’ goes to college.”
Though the platform is currently comprised of mostly Johnson County-area families with some throughout the greater Kansas City area, Nounou recently launched in Wichita, she added, noting plans to increase to Chicago within 2019.
“We’re just finishing up an app as well,” added Cary, owner of The Smalley Law Firm, as well as manager for Nounou’s back-end structuring. “We have a couple of sitters on it now, testing it out so they’d be able to get push notifications of all available jobs in the app.”
The app is available for Android users, he said, noting the Apple version is currently being workshopped.
The startup is geared for the national scale, said Molly, though the husband-and-wife duo are determined to “take it slow.”
“We do just want to get our feet wet and understand how everything goes with these different markets,” she said. “We’re just mom-and-popping it right now while trying to continue to grow, keep moving and minimize distractions. We’re letting people authentically sign-up because it is a word-of-mouth business.”
“There’s a lot of trust involved,” added Cary.