Better Child Care

I wasn’t prepared for all the change that both my wife and I were about to undergo after the birth of our daughter, Ava. Fortunately for us though, my wife was extremely forward thinking and very methodical (her experience as a lawyer helped) — she did a ton of research and stayed on top of everything that was needed from feeding schedules to finding a pediatrician to finding care etc. I was only partially there for the first year of my daughter’s life because I had no idea how to balance my new life and work, we survived what most parents consider the most challenging year of a child’s life.

Two Stories

As first time parents with limited familial help, we had to hire help. My wife had already lined up an amazing night doula who stayed with us for the first 6 weeks, through the night, and taught my wife the basics of breast feeding among other things. My wife had discovered this specific doula group through a work seminar, oddly enough. We wanted to have this doula stay with us for longer, but she’d already promised to move on to another family. Determined to wanting to be the savior, I decided to hop online, and find us another doula.

So after a fair amount of research online, I found someone who claimed to be a “certified” doula. After being with us for a few nights, we woke up one night and found that she’d left the premises of our condo, leaving our 3 month old unattended. We let her go immediately, left a negative review for her on the site we found her on (the best we could do, really) and wrote in to the company’s customer service department (who never responded to us). To date, that person is still active on that site. We found out later that she wasn’t a certified doula.

As Shreya’s maternity leave was coming to a close, we decided to hire a nanny (daycares are practically impossible to get into here in SF). And since our first experience hiring someone online went so wrong, we decided to use a local agency to find a nanny. We met several potential candidates and after many many interviews we felt like we’d finally met someone with whom we could make it work. My wife flagged something about her — one of her reference checks was not positive on her. But the price seemed fair, and both the agency and I insisted that we push forward. Fast-forward few months, by complete chance I happened to check in on Ava via Dropcam while I was at work. I was mortified to see a wailing Ava who was being mistreated by this nanny — I cringe as I type these words. I can’t believe any human could treat a helpless 5 month old the way she did — it is one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. We let this nanny go very soon after this incident.

Stress & Happiness

“You get what you pay for”, we started to hear. Somehow we felt consoled by the fact that we were not alone. Many many parents supposedly had suffered from the same issues we had. Finding quality care was starting to stress us out. We stopped leaving the house sans Ava because we were nervous leaving Ava with anyone anymore. Our friends will attest that they barely even saw us. I vividly remember the one time we went to one of our close friends’ place and all Shreya did was look at the Dropcam app.

Every year over Christmas break, our friends and us vacation together, typically in Maui. My wife, Ava and I use this opportunity to bond and these trips really bring us closer (see 14 days). After the trip this past year, I got some time to reflect. I made a commitment that I’d strive to be happier, and for me this meant 2 things:

  • spending more time with my family, especially more 1–1 time with my wife, and,
  • spending time working on intractable problems, especially ones I can personally relate to.

Introducing Trusted

Parents, like Shreya and me, spend an inordinate amount of time trying to find qualified people to watch their children. We learned that it takes ~11 hours of online research to find 1 qualified individual. That does not include background checks, reference checks and ensuring that they are medically capable to be around children, which are just prerequisites to then gauging compatibility with your child and family. Now, even when parents do find someone, like we did, there seems to be no training, no coaching, no accountability. Scheduling is a nightmare — I’ve heard that no-show rates are ~40% when you find care through some websites. Then there’s the pain of dealing with taxes, vacation days, sick days etc.

The reality is that not all parents know how to be employers, and not all nannies and babysitters know how to be employees.

We desperately want to fix this.

For the past few months, we’ve been working on Trusted, an iOS app that helps parents discover, schedule and pay for child care. To quote Chris Dixon, we’re taking the “full stack” approach to fixing Child Care.

  • Trusted Providers — we’ve been selectively recruiting providers, many of who are either nurses or nursing students, and have experience caring for children. They are thorough, qualified, smart, intuitive and most importantly, caring. Our bar is high. They are background checked, reference checked, CPR certified, immunized, and personally interviewed, in person, by us. Our providers are our employees. We train them before they start, we never let them fly solo on their first outing, they apprentice with someone more experienced. We continue to train them over time (random tidbit: early on, almost every provider watched my daughter — we even used this as one of our interview tests with our providers)
  • Child Care providers when and where you when you need them — Through our app, you can find care and book our providers in just a few minutes. We encourage you to communicate with them through the app, even bring them in for an in-person interview if you so choose.
  • Trust & Safety — If you opt in, you can check in via a live video stream through the app to see how things are going. You can also see where your provider is on a map (geolocate them) at any given point in time.
  • Peace of mind — Our providers will always show up on time, if not ahead of time. They will come prepared, and they will be nurturing. Our providers will follow the parents’ lead, and they will leave you a log of how the day went for your records.
  • Our Guarantee — Given everything I’ve gone through, I’d never want to compromise on customer experience. If you even have the slightest inclination that your expectations weren’t met, we will provide a full refund and we take corrective action on our end. We also have a dedicated customer support number, 844–9-TRUSTED. We are here for you.
  • Pay through the app, reap tax benefits — There are very few industries that still deal with cash. We want to bring the ability to pay for child care to the mobile world. The best part is that eligible parents can claim up to $6000 in tax deductions when they actually get a receipt for child care — more here: Ten Things to Know About the Child and Dependent Care Credit.

When I first started telling people I was working on Trusted, they told me this was going to be incredibly hard. They said things could go horribly wrong, and we could fail. Then I remembered that nothing in this world that comes easy is worth having. I don’t want parents to go through what Shreya and I went through. We want to give parents their lives back. I really hope we can play a part in improving marital happiness. And for our providers, I hope we can provide them a safe, fun and trustworthy environment to work and engage with families.

The Beginning

We have been testing both the app and the experience out over the last few months in San Francisco and we are happy to announce our limited access launch in SF today. We plan on rolling out more broadly to the San Francisco Bay Area and many other cities in the near future. You can download the app here:

One of Trusted’s core company principles is humility, and so on that — we are still very early. This is the tip of the iceberg. We want to build a platform for everything child care, and what we’re announcing today is just one piece. We want to be as open and receptive to your suggestions and input, so please drop me a note at any time with your thoughts on how we can improve or what you would like to see from us:

I want to thank everyone who has supported us from the first days of Trusted — sincerely, thank you! We’re really excited about what’s to come.

Team Trusted: from left to right — Rich Combs (Founding Designer), Anand Iyer, Cindy Ngo (Nurse-in-Residence), Alex Skryl (Founding Engineer), Vivian Chan (Co-Founder/Head of Operations)


@ai, CEO & Founder, Trusted

A special shoutout to my cofounder, Vivian Chan, for helping me with this post.

And thanks to our investors and advisors: David Hirsch / Metamorphic Ventures , Techstars Ventures, Dave Morin & Kevin Colleran / Slow Ventures, Andy Boszhardt / Great Oaks Ventures, Semil Shah / Haystack Fund, Anjney Midha / KPCB Edge, Chad Boeding, Sara Mauskopf, Amar Goel, Nate Johnson, TX Zhuo, Jacob Honig, Somrat Niyogi, Trae Vassallo and Michael Celiceo.