Finding a babysitter is a common problem for any parent, especially one they can trust and who is available at relatively short notice. Well, fear not parents, let us introduce you to bubble. bubble is an app that was launched in September 2016 and is the brainchild of its two Co-Founders, dads Ari Last and Adrian Murdock. The service takes aim at parents who find themselves needing to book trusted childcare at short notice. bubble uses Big Data to connect parents with the babysitters used and trusted by their friends and community. Having recently received a funding boost to continue their rapid growth we spoke to Ari about their journey to date, and what makes bubble so unique.
What’s your background, and what led you to form bubble?
Adrian and I first met at Betfair quite a few years ago and both went on to work at other internet marketplace businesses after that – Notonthehighstreet and Marketinvoice. We also became dads for the first time in that intervening period and it was really this which inspired bubble. Finding trusted babysitters and childcare was an enormous pain and a problem that we saw all of our friends and other parents we knew struggling with. Not having enough trusted babysitters may sound like a trivial problem but it can impact on our relationships, our work and general abilities to get on with the everyday – even mundane but no less important – things we all took for granted before having kids. It was this, combined with our time spent at some fantastic marketplace businesses, that convinced us we could and should do something about it.
Can you give us an overview of bubble? What’s its USP, and who is its target audience?
bubble’s USP is that we’re using big data to connect parents with the babysitters that their friends and community love and trust. We’re doing this because when it comes to finding trusted childcare, especially at short notice, parents want to and do use the sitters that come recommended from within their own trusted social circles. bubble is simply taking what we as parents do every day – inefficiently – and making it easier, faster and more convenient. On top of our mutual friend’s tool, the app uses peer reviews to build trust as well as online identity and background checks that each sitter needs to pass before going live. Our cashless payment feature is another major benefit for parents, who usually hate having to tot up the exact change at the end of what can sometimes be a long night. The use cases for bubble are varied and growing. We’ve parents on the app using it for regular and recurring needs, whereas others, who are using it for a spontaneous night out or when their regular help has called in sick. We’ve had people using the app for emergency dentist appointments or for when they’ve gone into labour unexpectedly. Whatever the need, our aim is to make it easy for parents to book a trusted sitter anytime, anywhere.
You’ve recently secured a round of funding, from some very prominent internet entrepreneurs, how did you manage to put together such a strong team of backers, and what will this funding go towards?
We’re very lucky to have a fantastic group of angel investors supporting the business. People we’ve met at our previous jobs and even some parents who have used the app and got in touch, as they are keen to get involved. The funding will go towards continued product innovation and marketing, aimed at growing our footprint in London and starting to seed bubble outside of the capital. We have big demand for the product nationwide and we’re determined to help parents across the country.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far, and how did you overcome this?
Trust in this market is obviously key and when you’re selling a new way of doing things its always difficult starting up – particularly when the service addresses what is a sensitive, emotive subject. Our kids are the most important things in the world to us, so we’re discerning customers for sure. We’re tackling this predominantly through product innovation and brand work. It’s still very early days for us of course and our challenge is introducing parents at scale to our new way of organising your babysitters. It’s exciting though, because once our customers become acquainted with bubble, they really enjoy it and the feedback so far has been fantastic.
We also noticed you’ve launched a new feature for the app ‘Express Book’, can you tell us more about this?
You can watch a demo of ‘Express Book’ here. The feature is brilliant for those unexpected, super-late notice needs (which as a parent happens quite often!) It allows a parent to post up their requirements with an algorithm, then determines which local babysitters to show the opportunity to. Sitters then bid in real time for the work, and the parent has the simple job of choosing the one they like. So far, it’s taking just 43 seconds on average for a parent to receive their first bid. We’re seeing it used early morning and late at night, with parents managing to book babysitters to start in as little as half an hour. It’s an exciting piece of technology with a lot of potential.
What does the future hold for bubble?
We’re out to build the safest, smartest and most convenient childcare platform on the planet. In a short space of time we’ve seen how parents are using our app in various ways and for a wide range of babysitting needs. Our challenge and goal is to build a product that caters brilliantly for all of it. It’s 2017 and as fundamental a thing as finding great childcare for our kids is still hugely painful. That’s crazy really, and we’re out to fix it.