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Mom's Startup Success Story: 'Open Table' Reservation Service for Babysitters

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This story appears in the May 2012 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »
Based in San Francisco
Five employees
2,500 babysitters registered
2,000 bookings per month

What It Is
UrbanSitter uses Facebook Connect to access, with permission, the networks of parents and sitters and bring the two together. It trawls contacts, groups and "likes" for sitters known through friends. When a parent needs help on date night, the service spits out a list of possibilities. Parents can review rates, schedule interviews, conduct background checks and book the sitter--all online. Like the restaurant reservation service Open-Table, the parent is notified immediately after the sitter accepts the gig.

How It Started
In November 2010, Lynn Perkins, who has twin boys, had had enough. Why was it, she wondered, that she could book an online restaurant reservation in minutes, yet had to spend hours calling and e-mailing around to find a babysitter? Armed with an idea and her background running online clothing retailer Xuny.com, Perkins turned to Facebook to solve the problem. She wrangled three friends to help her figure it out: Daisy Downs, an interactive media producer at ad agency Goodby, Silverstein and Partners; Andrea Barrett, a product manager at travel site TripIt; and Hadar Wissotzky, CEO of interactive digital agency Streamline Social.

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