As a native Chattanoogan, I’m inspired by the growth in innovation and opportunity that has occurred in this city since I left in 2001 to attend college in Nashville.
That same spirit of innovation led my husband and I to quit our jobs in the fall of 2016 and create Wyndy, a mobile app that connects parents with college babysitters. At the time we founded Wyndy, we’d been parents for almost seven years and the stress associated with finding, booking, and paying sitters for our two daughters was a constant hassle. Having grown accustomed to using apps like Uber and Shipt, we believed that there had to be a better way to go about finding trusted childcare for our kids.
When I was a little girl growing up on Lookout Mountain, my parents would call up a Covenant College dorm and leave their phone number with an RA and a note on the bulletin board for students interested in babysitting to call them. While technology has certainly evolved since then, we found ourselves using the same technology to book babysitters that parents were using in the early 2000s. We’d use offline relationships to build out a network of several sitters, text all of them when we needed a babysitter, and then swing by the ATM at night or scrounge around for the checkbook to pay them.
In the more recent years, we’ve seen the rise of Facebook groups aimed at connecting parents and babysitters. While these groups were somewhat of an improvement over the traditional methods of finding a babysitter, they were also fraught with inefficiencies and safety concerns. If we posted a job on the wall, we might get one or two interested sitters, but since the entire group could see everything that was happening on the wall, no one else would express interest in our job. If we got a couple of sitters interested, we still had to go through the hassle of texting them to work out the details. Most importantly, there was really no way to know that these sitters were who they said they were, and no way to find out what was in their background unless they happened to disclose it on their Facebook profile.
Recognizing the need that parents like us had for a safer, more convenient solution to the problem of finding a sitter, we launched Wyndy in Birmingham in the spring of 2017. Wyndy is now available in seven cities (Birmingham, Mobile, Chattanooga, Memphis, Nashville, Tuscaloosa, and Charlottesville), and we plan to continue growing into new markets in 2018.
What sets Wyndy apart is the sophistication of our technology and the quality of our sitters (who we call Wyndys). Only full-time students at select colleges and universities are eligible to apply. As part of our application process, we verify each student’s enrollment, review their babysitting experience, and require that they submit a video of themselves. Those approved must also pass a background check before gaining access to the app and before they can apply for jobs.
In addition to the initial vetting process and background checks we perform, the app provides parents with innovative tools to help them find sitters that fit their preferences. Parents can connect with their friends who use the app to see the Wyndys their friends have used and the ratings they have given them. We’ve given parents flexibility as to how they’d like to book a job. Parents can post a job and then select from Wyndys who respond, or they can use our filters to curate their own preferred sitters list. For example, if a parent is interested in an early education major at a certain school is who involved in a specific campus activity, the parent can, with a click of a few buttons, see all the sitters who fit that profile and offer jobs directly to those sitters.
Ultimately, Wyndy is about building community. It’s about using modern technology to make it possible for two segments of a local community to meaningfully connect in a way that benefits both of them. We are excited about continuing to bring the magic of Wyndy to more users in more cities across the country. To try Wyndy, download the app in the app store or visit wyndy.com to learn more!