Care.com in the City-Thanks to SVCUKOctober 15, 2013
by Jenny Chapman
Ah, ha! It’s an online concierge service, I say. I am sitting in the Trinity Centre on the science park having coffee with three bright-eyed women involved in a venture called Care.com, writes Jenny Chapman.
They do not sell it to me as an online concierge service, but this is, perhaps, the easiest way of giving you an initial handle as to what it does.
Founded in the US in 2007 by a needy mother and daughter – needy as in faced with having to care for both children and ageing parents and at the same time hold down a job – Sheila Marcelo is now chief executive of the largest online care provider in the world, with eight million members in 16 countries.
Care.com has also just completed a Series E funding round, raising $50m, bringing the total raised to date to $110m.
So, how did it come to Cambridge?
Three years ago, at “Silicon Valley Comes to Cambridge”, the transatlantic visit organised by Sherry Coutu, Sheila Marcelo was among the party, and so was Cambridge resident Sigrid Daniel, a hot shot in the financial world of the City of London, but inclined to do something else which would not involve employing two nannies 70 hours a week.
The synergy was already there. Sigrid liked what Sheila had to say, and now she runs the UK operation from premises within NW Brown in Regent Street, Cambridge.
But Care.com is about a lot more than finding nannies, child minders, and carers for the elderly who want to stay in their own home; it also offers dog walkers, housekeepers, carers for special needs people.
“Yesterday was actually a record-breaking day in the UK, we are very comfortable with the investment we have made and things are going according to plan,” Sigrid says.
The website for the UK launched 18 months ago, and is on track to be number one in two years, but there is a lot of competition, more here than in the US.
Childcare is what most members want, most particularly for that gap between the end of school and parents getting away from work, but those who join the site often go on to use it for other care needs – they might want someone to pop in to see elderly relatives during a time the rest of the family is on holiday.
Visiting the site for a browse, to see what and who are on offer, is free, but to take it further you have to join, which costs £20 a month.
A keen member and also involved with the business as a PR consultant is Liz Weston, who has specialised in the care sector. She is one of the bright-eyed round the table, along with Meredith Robertson, PR manager for Care.com in the US.
Meredith talks about “The Sandwich Generation”, the folks mentioned above who find themselves responsible for generations either side of them. Care.com provides online advice for them, and all members, on all sorts of topics, as well as acting as a conduit to find staff. You can pay extra to have candidates checked out or do this yourself – this is for CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) checks, or DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service) as it is now known.
Shiela Marcelo and her team have thought of everything and, as Liz says: “This is that big – I wish I had thought of it.”