Trusted is Changing the Childcare Industry by Investing in Caregivers
When Vivian Chan worked on the marketing team that launched Echo — Amazon’s voice controlled, Alexa enabled home device — the overwhelming ethos from CEO Jeff Bezos was to ignore the competition. “At Amazon, we always asked: How do we build exclusively for our customer? The more time you spend thinking about your competition the more likely you are to build the same thing or something only slightly better. It’s more effective to focus on the unique experience you can deliver,” she says.
Vivian and her co-founder Anand Iyer rely on the same mentality building their startup Trusted: The easiest way for families to find exceptional, vetted childcare. The team differentiates themselves in a heavily crowded market by owning the whole process — from discovery to implemented improvements at the end of every session — and strongly investing in their caregivers, who are company employees.
Supporting our providers empowers them to provide the best possible care for children.
Today, Vivian and Anand join us to share how Trusted is reimagining childcare by equipping caregivers with the intel they need to succeed and utilizing continuous feedback loops to refine the experience for caregivers, children, and parents.
The genesis of Trusted was Anand’s upsetting experience with a babysitter mistreating his six-month old daughter. What called you to save other families from this?
After my wife and I had a bad experience with a sitter, we realized there was no central hub for anyone — caregivers, families, or services — to be held accountable when things like this happen. The sentiment was echoed by thousands of families I talked to when I left my job at Threadflip to take care of my daughter. A straightforward way to collectively share feedback, learn from mistakes and improve was missing in the industry.
Vivian and I worked at large companies like Amazon and Microsoft that invest in training and hold their teams accountable to providing great service. A company connecting families and caregivers shouldn’t be any different. We started by asking: How do we bring an unprecedented level of accountability to the childcare industry?
How are you building Trusted to address those challenges?
Our company is driven by two components: Technology and service. We are harnessing technology to ensure that when a Trusted caregiver walks into a family’s home he or she has everything they need to provide high-quality care. That means knowing as much as they can about the child, their interests, milestones they have hit, and the progress parents want to see. It is a lot of information that has never been organized before. During the session, sitters and parents can communicate using our geolocation, text messaging, and video features as well.
A Trusted mantra is: “It’s not about finding someone to take care of your child. It’s about finding excellent childcare.” How do you manifest that sentiment?
We are unwaveringly committed to parents but actually focus a lot more on caregivers because they are our employees. Like any company, their growth and retention is extremely important to us. They might not be with us in the office but we are all one team.
Traditionally, if you are a caregiver or nanny you are mostly on your own. It’s very unfortunate. Last I checked, the average wage childcare workers are paid is $9.77. There is no career path or trajectory for them. We want our caregivers to take pride in their work and know that we are here to support them. We are always trying to find new ways to eliminate stress, like creating a tuition reimbursement program, so they can focus on their role with families.
Can you tell us about the Trusted features that make that a reality?
We built our caregivers their own app so they can manage their schedules directly, view all of the family information, as well as provider tips and tricks. The process shouldn’t just be seamless for families. Caregivers deserve to be valued and have a great experience too. Meeting families, scheduling, and getting paid are all logistical pain points. Our ability to streamline the backend for providers is directly related to their ability to deliver nurturing care.
There is also a team aspect. They can leave tips for other caregivers about their experiences in a family’s home, such as a child’s preferences, if they are teething, or the books they like to read. We are working to create a network of highly qualified and trained caregivers so when someone walks in the door they are equipped to deliver a first class experience.
We believe our children are the future. Every opportunity a child has with a caregiver needs to reflect that by being a great experience. If we don’t invest in the caregivers, who are spending significant time with our kids, how can we expect them to grow up and be successful?
What is the most beneficial feedback you have received from caregivers so far?
I always ask: Why us? Why did you leave another family or service? The number one reason is security. Our caregivers see a lot of value in knowing that we are there for them. If they are answering a Craigslist post they don’t know anything about the family. They haven’t been vetted. I’ve heard unfortunate stories from our caregivers about traveling to dangerous places, showing up to a house with no kids, or meeting parents who have malicious intentions. It’s really scary.
We vet parents on Trusted to combat this. When they sign up, we use the information they provide to validate their identity. If the signal fails, we don’t let them through the app. We want our caregivers to feel confident and walk in with zero hesitation. We had a family who was staying in a hotel in San Francisco. This would have previously been a nerve wracking situation for both parties. We were able to help them by providing all of the information they needed to feel comfortable.
How about on the family side? What feedback are you getting from parents? What surprised you the most?
From babysitting, which is more episodic, to finding a part-time or full-time nanny, there are a lot of moving parts in childcare. For our first set of features, we wanted to tackle babysitting and part-time nannying. Once parents realized they could find safe and trusted childcare, they were interested in finding long-term options. Families can now find a babysitter for a few times a week or a caregiver who can pick their child up from school and watch them until they get home.
Trusted has quickly evolved from being a very focused specific product into a platform for childcare. There are a lot of things that emanate from that. We are really excited about the features we can add to better support families.
One question we have to ask, Viv. Do you anticipate adding a feature where families can find and schedule a Trusted sitter with Amazon’s Alexa?
After working on the product and launching it in the U.S., I definitely think it is a possibility. From a technology perspective, we have been building APIs for securing childcare, so we are in a great position to further it and be voice enabled. All you’d have to ask is: “Alexa, is one of my favorite Trusted providers available tomorrow?” She can do the search, provide an answer, and then book your caregiver. It is a powerful and even more convenient feature for families and it’s not far off. Who knows, maybe the kids will be able to request their favorite caregivers too.