If your goal in 2017 is to organize your life (and who hasn’t said that at least once?) local app developers are on it. While A-List+ is keeping the contacts, calendar and tasks in check, Juggle has the solution for busy parents.
Four local moms are behind the app that helps families connect with help in the from of babysitting, pet sitting, and soon, even more. Serving Columbus and the surrounding areas – Dublin, Upper Arlington, Powell, Westerville, New Albany, etc. – Juggle creates a network of vetted sitters who are primarily college students from the area’s universities.
The moms created their spin on care when one of the quartet, Amber Nolan, was left in a pinch. Just back to work after having twins and with a husband traveling for work, her nanny quit. When she found other care options to be unsatisfactory, she texted her future business partners – her twin sister Ashlee Giannetti and sisters and friends Emily Coleman and Annie Arthur
The four grew up together in Findlay, OH, and when Nolan reached out on their text chain saying she thought she wanted to start a babysitting business, the others were immediately on board.
“By the end of that day we had the name Juggle,” Coleman says. “We knew it was going to be an app, and we had a whole host of services we wanted to add in addition to babysitting.”
Hitting naming gold, the first step was to talk to an attorney to protect Juggle. Not only did their attorney help them protect the name, but they directed the new entrepreneurs to Rev1 Ventures.
Coleman says they didn’t really have an inkling where to take an idea like Juggle, but Rev1’s Concept Academy provided the resources to validate and grow their concept.
“At the end of Concept Academy they [Rev1] decided that they wanted to engage with us,” Coleman says.
Rev1 provided the Juggle team with access and connections to developers who have helped them take the app from MVP, to summer test run, to launch in the app store in October.
One of the things that makes Juggle different is how it connects families to sitters. The whole operation is largely referral and word-of-mouth based, meaning there are often personal connections or only a few degrees of separation between families and sitters.
During the Concept Academy, the Juggle team sent surveys to parents across the country asking if they would be more comfortable hiring a stranger with a background check or a friend referral to watch their kids? An overwhelming majority, upwards of 90 percent, said referral. That had been Coleman’s personal experience as well. She looked at other online resources but never went all in.
“I just wasn’t comfortable hiring somebody that had no contacts,” she says.
To get started in the app, a parent sets up a profile, adding details about their children, pets and family. When it comes time to book a Juggler (what the app calls its sitters), a family receives a list of individuals available for that job. A parent can see information like how many jobs that sitter has had, reviews, and most importantly, which of her friends have used the same sitter.
Once they decide on a sitter, a parent sends a request and the Juggler has an hour to respond. If the sitter is unavailable, the family tries again. If the sitter accepts, Uber-like technology makes it easy for a parent to track a job. The sitter checks in and out, and all payment is handled through the app.
“It’s just such an easy, seamless way…to come home and you don’t have to worry about fumbling in your purse,” Coleman says. “It makes it really easy and simple for both sides.”
Juggle also determines the rates, meaning parents don’t have to weigh options based on price. For one to two kiddos it’s $12/hour, three kids is $15/hour and four, $18/hour. Pet sitting gets a flat $12/hour. There are booking fees – $9.99/month for unlimited sits, or $3.99 per booking – but most of the money goes towards credit card processing fees and the like.
Requests thus far have largely been for babysitting, with a few pet sits mixed in. Tending to the four-legged friends is just one additional service Juggle offers. Plans are in the works to add household chores, private sports instruction, party assistance and homework help.
The app targets college students as its Jugglers because of their flexible schedules. Sitters can exercise that flexibility with options like taking themselves off the app during finals week, and picking things right back up when their schedule opens up again.
Currently, Juggle is requiring a referral code so that they have a handle on families that come on the app.
“It controls the growth of the app,” Coleman says. “We want to make sure our inventory of sitters is adequate to service the number of families using the app.”
Juggle also wants to have an understanding of the families on the app to ensure the safety of its sitters. If a family is interested in using Juggle’s services, Coleman says they can contact them or someone they know already using the app for a referral code.
While Coleman shares that Juggle families have been loving the calibers of the sitters they meet, as a business the quartet is constantly striving to improve the features of the app.
Without technical backgrounds and unexpectedly at the helm of a new app, “You learn as you go, and you don’t know what you need until you need it,” Coleman says.
For more information, visit whyjuggle.com.