Because of Charly Cares, parents can now leave the house feeling good and babysitters get paid correctly
TEXT EMMA POSMA
IMAGE MAURITS GIESEN
CHARLOTTE VAN DER STRATEN (28)
IS founder and face of Charly Cares
STUDIED marketing and communication
BABYSITTER since she was twelve. ‘We start early in Stiphout’
XANDER KOENEN (36)
IS founder, the technical and financial brains behind Charly Cares
STUDIED hbo real estate
BABYSITTING EXPERIENCE ‘None, hahaha’
When the Stiphout born and raised Charlotte van der Straten moved to Amsterdam eleven years ago to study marketing and communication at the HvA, she soon started looking for job on the side. Of course, as a student you can choose to work for a mere pittance well into the small hours of the night in some kitchen, but you can also start babysitting. ‘I think it’s one of the most relaxed jobs there is, especially if you have a certain affinity with children. You can plan it whenever you are available, and, if you’re lucky, you earn tons of money.’
In her student house in Oud-Zuid, she saw a gap in the market and, at age eighteen, she started a small babysitting company.
She saw that the traditional babysitting market was in dire need of innovation. ‘The system was highly inconvenient. Parents and babysitters have plans at different times, which is why they are not always able to connect. Each family is also used to different hourly rates and has their own habits and wishes. One always sent me a message two hours in advance asking if I could find someone, others were looking for a fixed babysitter for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon. And I haven’t even mentioned the payments yet. Nothing is more embarrassing than having to message a parent two weeks later to ask if they can please transfer the money, and especially having to point out that they are five euros short afterwards.'
‘We guarantee that parents can leave their children safely’
That should all be able to happen much simpler and quicker, thought Van der Straten, and in the span of sixteen months, together with her partner Xander Koenen, she started the babysitting app Charly Cares. Nowadays, they are active in six cities with about 3400 so-called Babysitting Angels, and with 6500 users and a growth of fifteen percent per month, they really have nothing to complain about. ‘We wanted to create a clear app where all the essential parts of the babysitting branche come together: a transparent babysitting profile including ratings and reviews from parents, a booking module, a chat function, and a babysitting timer that keeps track up until the exact final minute of the babysitting service. We have strict guidelines that Babysitting Angels have to adhere to, so we can guarantee parents that they can leave their most precious possession safely behind. By screening someone using a thorough protocol, we know what kind of girl we are dealing with and whether or not she has what it takes to be a Babysitting Angel.'
Without money you can’t grow, at least not to this degree. Did Van der Straten en Koenen need many investors? ‘Xander and I started out by investing ourselves, but we soon noticed that the idea had potential and we managed to find a group of informal investors. Last April, this group invested four hundred thousand euro, which is what enabled us to keep growing. We hope to reach a break-even point by the end of 2017. If that works out, we perhaps want to expand abroad. Currently, there is much interest from London, Barcelona, Sydney and Scandinavia, which we hope to respond to in a timely manner.’ And does she have any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs? ‘Be prepared to give everything, work extremely hard and stay a realistic optimist. Especially the working hard people are wont to underestimate.'
WHAT DOES THE EXPERT THINK?
‘This is a great service. A well-defined problem, a clear solution, and a large market. It’s exciting how customer satisfaction is determined by the babysitters. They are screened well and, on a limited scale, that’s manageable, but I’m curious to see if they can sustain that under the pressure of growth. There should also be more attention directed towards screening the parents. Reputation is everything to Charly Cares.'
Jan Willem Klerkx, co-owner of Scyfer.nl