Women-led childcare booking service UrbanSitter has raised a $17 million Series C as it expands to new cities, including Atlanta, Austin and Portland.
Rather unusually for a Silicon Valley funding round, just over $1 million of this investment comes from ‘power users’ of UrbanSitter, which links families to on-demand babysitters and nannies: a dozen influential women.
“The main appeal for them was that their lives wouldn’t work without the service,” said CEO Lynn Perkins, who has now raised a total of $40 million to grow the startup, which finds childcare providers in a customer’s area in under 3 minutes.
“They love that I reached out to them,” Perkins said of the new cohort of women backers. “They’re equal contributors to their household, but people pitch their husbands on the golf course. They’re not at the table. They’re not directly approached.”
One of these investors, former Goldman Sachs managing director Linnea Roberts, has made a point of funding women founders and female-focused projects; she was one of the financiers of last year’s critically-acclaimed film ‘Equity,’ the first Wall Street movie to examine women’s experience of the banking world.
“I wanted to put my money where my mouth was,” said Roberts. “I had flexible capital and wanted to be mission-oriented.”
Perkins was a mother of twin toddlers in 2010 when she had her big idea after one too many babysitter cancellations. She had been watching companies like OpenTable crop up, and wondered why there wasn’t a similar on-demand, tech-enabled marketplace for babysitters and nannies.
“It’s a great story of moms seeing a problem and using technology to attack it,” Roberts said. “The way we’ve been hiring babysitters has been entirely pedestrian for too long.”
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