Babysitting app Wyndy connects top-tier college students looking for job opportunities to parents in need of a date night. No more endless texting with unavailable babysitters, says CEO Tommy Mayfield.
“We needed lots of babysitting help, but finding trustworthy and reliable childcare was extremely difficult,” says Mayfield, who has two daughters. “Why wasn’t there an app that could make it just as easy to find, book, and pay trusted babysitters?” The app requires all babysitters, or ‘Wyndys’, to undergo an extensive application process and background check to access available jobs in the mobile marketplace.
Launched in March 2017, the Birmingham, AL-based startup completed Innovation Depot’s Velocity Accelerator program this past May and won the Alabama Launchpad Startup Competition last year.
Currently available in seven cities across the Southeast, Wyndy will expand to Atlanta, Raleigh/Durham and Dallas/Ft. Worth within the next few months, following a $1 million seed round raised this past August.
“In the past year, we have created high expectations of Wyndy from users. As we grow to new markets, our priority is to continue to meet or exceed those expectations and provide all of our parent users with trustworthy, reliable and convenient access to childcare,” says Mayfield.
Mayfield shares how he’s keeping his team motivated through the changes that growth brings, why trust and reliability are the key to customer retention, and the upside of building a company in the Southeast. “If a company is solving a real problem, there’s no reason why the earliest adopters can’t be found right here.”
How did you get the idea for Wyndy?
Wyndy was born from a desire to solve a problem that my wife and I faced. I was working long hours as an attorney at a large corporate firm, my wife was getting her master’s degree at night, and we had two daughters under the age of five. We needed lots of babysitting help, but finding trustworthy and reliable childcare was extremely difficult. We’d meet a handful of sitters through offline relationships, add their numbers to our phones, and then send what seemed like hundreds of text messages to book one. We’d then have to stop by the ATM late at night or scrounge for the checkbook to pay the sitter.
Why wasn’t there an app that could make it just as easy to find, book, and pay trusted babysitters? We set out to harness the power of modern technology to transform the way parents find reliable childcare by connecting them with a community of vetted, background-checked college babysitters.
How does Wyndy solve this problem?
Wyndy is a mobile marketplace that solves two unique but related problems. For busy parents, it’s extremely difficult to find and book trusted babysitters, especially on short notice. For college students looking to babysit, it’s difficult to build a large enough network of families to make babysitting a viable yet flexible part-time job while in school. Wyndy leverages modern technology to solve both these problems.
We help parents connect with local college students who are eager to care for their children, so they can spend much-needed time with a spouse or friends, pursue career opportunities or participate in charitable activities that benefit their local community.
Why did you decide to focus on college students as the babysitters?
Before Wyndy, many of our favorite sitters were college students. By virtue of their enrollment in top-tier local universities, they had already distinguished themselves as intelligent and responsible young adults. In many ways, they reminded my wife and I of ourselves when we were in college. Our daughters also loved these sitters because they got down on the floor and really engaged with the kids.
As we began thinking about Wyndy as a concept, we recognized that there are parents all over the country who are already trying to connect with local college students to meet their babysitting needs. We believed that if we could start with those students as our potential supply pool, then add additional trust-building features, we could create a platform that parents would love and that had the potential to expand to cities across the country.
In terms of security, how does Wyndy help parents have peace of mind as they let these babysitters into their house?
As parents ourselves, we recognized that for Wyndy to succeed, we had to build a platform that parents would be comfortable using when looking for child care. We’ve gone about engendering trust among parents in three key ways.
First, we’ve started with a trusted segment of the population: full-time college or graduate students at top-tier local universities. Second, we’ve done the initial vetting for parents: each prospective Wyndy must undergo a thorough application process and clear a background check before gaining access to the platform. Third, we’ve created trust-building tools within the app that allow parents to further screen the sitters using personal connections and other information relevant to their family’s wants and needs. For example, parents can connect with their friends on Wyndy to see the Wyndys their friends have used, how many times they’ve used them and the ratings they’ve given them. We’ve also built filters that allow parents to quickly find Wyndys who meet their particular preferences.
While trust is what brings parents to the platform, what keeps parents using Wyndy over and over again is the flexibility, reliability and convenience our platform provides. As far as reliability, parents posting a job on Wyndy receive interest from one or more sitters on average within two minutes! As for convenience, sitters use an in-app timer to time jobs. When a job is complete, parents can see the exact amount owed and securely pay right inside the app.
What’s Wyndy’s revenue model?
Wyndy is free to download and doesn’t cost anything until a parent uses a Wyndy babysitter. Wyndys (the babysitters) are paid directly through the app. When a parent creates a job, they select an hourly rate. Wyndy deducts a small portion of the hourly rate as a platform fee, then displays to Wyndys the rate they will receive for working that job. A small service fee is added at the conclusion of each job.
As a leader of a rapidly-expanding startup, how are you keeping your team motivated? What are some leadership lessons you’ve learned so far?
As a high-growth company, it’s easy for team members to get stressed out by our ambitious goals or the somewhat unique pace of working at a startup. I’ve learned that, as a leader, your emotional state has a lot do to with the emotional state of the entire team.
I frequently remind myself and my team to step back when we get stressed and remember just how fortunate we are to have the opportunity to do what we’re doing. Very few people are given the time and resources to actually work on turning their vision into a reality. When we all recognize what a privilege it is to be working towards that goal, we’re able to have fun even as we face the inevitable challenges that arise.
What has been your experience growing a company in Alabama and across the Southeast?
Wyndy is currently available in seven cities across Alabama, Tennessee, and Virginia and will be expanding to several more this fall. As far as raising capital, I’ve learned that it’s possible to raise a seed round exclusively in the Southeast. And initiatives like the newly formed Alabama Futures Fund are making even more capital available to innovative early-stage southern companies.
Watching Shipt’s journey and reflecting on our own experience with Wyndy, I have come to believe that technology platforms can start and grow within the South. There are plenty of tech-savvy customers in cities across the South and if a company is solving a real problem, there’s no reason why the earliest adopters can’t be found right here.
All images provided by Wyndy