CHARLOTTE, NC (Katherine Peralta/The Charlotte Obs - A new service coming soon to Charlotte is what you might get if you combined Uber, Tinder and the Babysitter's Club.
The on-demand service is called PlatinumSitters, and it's set to launch in Charlotte within coming weeks. It's the brainchild of Stephanie Keefer, a former financial analyst turned stay-at-home-mom and entrepreneur who first introduced the idea in Raleigh last June.
Keefer said the idea for the child-care service came about five years ago, when she was still new to town and was looking for a babysitter. "As a mom of two, I had just moved into the Raleigh area my husband traveled all the time. I was like, how am I going to find a sitter?"
At the same time, Keefer described a technology transformation, or the "uberization of society," meaning people are more often turning to on-demand services such as Uber. So she worked with a friend in Silicon Valley to develop an algorithm to pair local sitters with families in need of child care.
Here's how it works: Prospective babysitters sign up for free on PlatinumSitters's website and undergo a background check and an hour-long face-to-face interview with a local manager. Care givers must be at least 18 years old, have at least three years of experience and have access to a car, Keefer said.
Sitters can input their preferences – such as caring for more than one child, transporting children and watching very active kids. Families include their own specifications, too – such as how many children they have and the kind of schedules their kids maintain.
Instead of turning up thousands of search results like Care.com or Sittercity.com, Keefer said, PlatinumSitters uses an algorithm to narrow down results and match a sitter with a family. Parents are charged a flat rate of $14 for one child, then the rate increases by $2 for every subsequent child. Parents can store their credit card information in the system, Keefer said.
After the booking, parents can rate the babysitter on a scale of one to five. Any sitter who gets a three or lower is removed from the system. "We want the best sitters available," Keefer said.
In Raleigh, PlatinumSitters has over 2,000 families signed up, and over 400 sitters, Keefer said. In Charlotte, the service started accepting babysitters about two months ago, and many of them include many nurses or college students with flexible schedules.