Uber and Lyft have made it easier to get around town, but the service isn’t designed for young people. Unaccompanied passengers under the age of 18 are forbidden from ordering cars.
So how are children supposed to go from one activity to the next when their parents are busy? Well, there’s carpools or nannies, but a ridesharing startup called HopSkipDrive is combining these concepts by hiring drivers that double as caregivers.
It’s been operating in LA for the past three years and also operates in Orange County and the San Francisco Bay Area. Now the business is announcing it’s $7.4 million in additional funding to fuel its goals. This is on top of the $14.1 million previously raised.
The latest financing comes from Student Transportation Inc., which will also be partnering with HopSkipDrive for school bus alternatives. The round also includes participation from existing investors Upfront Ventures and FirstMark Capital.
Greg Bettinelli, a partner at Upfront Ventures and board member at HopSkipDrive said that “by teaming up with school systems they’re not only unlocking massive growth opportunity for the business, they also have potential to help tens of thousands of parents.”
HopSkipDrive will also be working with the Los Angeles Office of Education to ensure that foster children are able to get rides to school.
Regular users can order rides for just one passenger. Or HopSkipDrive has also been growing its carpooling business, which offers discounted fares.
CEO Joanna McFarland said that she’s especially proud of the screening process of its drivers. “We do far more than most families do to vet a nanny or a babysitter,” she said. “We really set ourselves apart with our dedication to safety.”
She touted a 15-point certification process which she believes is the “strictest in the industry.” Drivers are not only subject to background checks but are also required to have five years of childcare experience. The drivers are 99% female and above the age of 23. They can also double as caregivers after the ride, for an added fee.
But HopSkipDrive isn’t the only business to see opportunity in the child ridesharing business. Competitor Zūm recently raised money from Sequoia. And then there’s Shuddle, which shut down after running into financial difficulties.
We got a video tour of the startup last year.