School is back in session and another “Uber for kids” startup has entered the San Diego market.
Hopskipdrive was founded in Los Angeles by three women who were experiencing similar struggles.
CEO Joanna McFarland, who began her career in investment banking and private equity, transitioned into product management and business development in the technology sector following business school at Stanford University.
“Along the way I had kids, and I couldn’t get them anywhere,” she said.
She teamed up with Carolyn Yashari Becher and Janelle McGlothlin, mothers who were facing the same issue.
“Between us we have eight kids that go to five different schools and are in about 20 different after-school activities,” McFarland said.
The trio launched the company, which specializes in ride-sharing for children, in 2014. Customers can schedule a pickup via the Hopskipdrive app or website.
Hopskipdrive began serving San Diego county on Aug. 22, adding the region to its existing service areas: Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco and Denver.
The venture-backed company has raised more than $20 million, including investments from venture firms Greycroft, Upfront Ventures and Firstmark Capital. Its latest round, of $7.4 million, was led by a strategic investor, Student Transportation Inc., one of the country’s largest school bus contractors.
McFarland said her company aims to set itself apart from competitors by focusing on safety. Drivers with Hopskipdrive must be at least 23 years old, have at least five years of childcare experience and pass a 15-point inspection. The company meets with each prospective driver in person, and conducts background checks on candidates and require any vehicle used to have also passed an inspection.
“We get far more (information) than most families do to vet a nanny or a babysitter,” McFarland said.
Hopskipdrive drivers have taken customers on more than 400,000 trips, she said.
Rides start at $16; carpool rides, with multiple families in one car, start at $7 per family. The service is for those age 6 and older.
Reach reporter Sarah de Crescenzo at firstname.lastname@example.org.