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This article was published on February 27, 2012

UrbanSitter leverages your social graph to find you a trustworthy babysitter

UrbanSitter leverages your social graph to find you a trustworthy babysitter
Drew Olanoff
Story by

Drew Olanoff

Drew Olanoff was The Next Web's West Coast Editor. He coined the phrase "Social Good" and invented the "donation by action" model for onlin Drew Olanoff was The Next Web's West Coast Editor. He coined the phrase "Social Good" and invented the "donation by action" model for online charitable movements. He founded #BlameDrewsCancer. You can follow him on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, or email [email protected]

There are no limits as to what types of jobs and services you can find people to do using the Internet. Popular services like TaskRabbit can help you find people to put together Ikea furniture and Rover will help you find someone to watch your dogs.

These services rely on rating and review systems to protect the community and to help you make the right decision in picking the right person for the job. One of the most precious tasks a person can have is the job of watching over their children. Babysitting is a job that was the first for many during their mid-to-late teens and it’s about to get the Internet treatment with a service called UrbanSitter.

The site is currently in beta but is fully operational for parents looking for trustworthy folks to watch their kids and a steady stream of income for those who enjoy hanging out with young ones. The company hopes to be to babysitting what OpenTable is to restaurant reservations.

Hit the town, grab a babysitter

For parents who don’t get out much, finding a babysitter can be an absolute nightmare. From vetting the prospective sitters to scheduling, the process itself is enough to make you throw up your hands, forget a night out and stay in to watch a movie.

What UrbanSitter does well is allow parents to connect with prospective babysitters using your social connections from Facebook. Since it’s pretty early going for UrbanSitter, you might not be able to find those connections immediately. The userbase will have to grow before Facebook becomes extremely helpful here. However, the site does have a lot of useful tools to make great connections in the interim.

Parents and prospective babysitters can go to the site and create a profile. Since you can only log in with your Facebook account, a lot of your information is pre-filled. For parents, you’re asked a bit about the children you have, including any special needs that they might have. That information will help the system pair you up with a capable sitter.

After a parent has filled out their information, they can start searching for a sitter by entering the dates and times that they need someone to watch the kids. The service is country-wide with the biggest traction coming in major cities like San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Reno, Denver, Boulder, Chicago, Seattle, and St. Louis.

After you’ve done your search, you can start looking through profiles of prospective babysitters and read reviews about them, as you would on a restaurant site like OpenTable.

By seeing which babysitters have the most repeat families, you can get a pretty good idea of someone that you’d like to interview before trusting them with watching your kids. The site serves as a fantastic ice-breaker though, with features like payments and a mobile app on the way.

Ultimately, UrbanSitter is a more structured version of something like Craigslist and the addition of profiles being tied to Facebook accounts, you have a way better shot of finding a few possibilities who are who they say they are right off the bat. In the future, I’d like to see the company do some type of background checks on the babysitters and provide that information to parents. For those of you who have looked for trustworthy babysitters in the past, you know that if you haven’t found them through a friend, conducting your own background search can be pricey and take up a chunk of your time.

When you’ve found a babysitter that you like, you can share their profile with your friends on Facebook and create a nice network of awesome people to watch your kids from time to time. This service has a lot of potential and I imagine that parents everywhere will at least give it a shot the next time they want to go out for a night on the town.


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