Tech Left Parents Behind. Now We're Catching Up

01/08/2016 12:54

Parenting is tough. It always has been, always will be and perhaps even should be. The most rewarding things in life usually are.

But it shouldn't be this tough. After all, the internet and specifically mobile technology, has made nothing we do especially difficult anymore.

If I need a taxi, I tap Uber. My dry cleaning, Laundrapp. My handyman, TaskRabbit. My dinner; Deliveroo. My private plane, Skyjet...

You get the picture.

The innovation and technology driving these products has transformed the services we use and things we do everyday from expensive, clunky and slow, to affordable, convenient and slick.

Except for parenting that is. There's nothing remotely affordable, convenient or slick about it.

What's more, when you consider the make-up of parents as a consumer group, us being left behind by these technology trends - the on-demand and sharing economies in particular - seems totally backwards.

We are after all a huge market segment that is extremely time-poor and in constant need of more help.

Furthermore, the (often comical) scenarios our kids subject us to gives us an empathy that makes us want to share with each other. Be it our experiences, expertise or the products and services we use.

So while the idea for bubble - our on-demand babysitting app - didn't hit me until quite recently, it's seeds were most definitely sewn in my early days of being a dad. Shattered and confused, I was convinced that tech had a lot more to offer in terms of helping a parent out.

Two years of enforced, near-hibernation later, finding childcare, and more specifically babysitters, struck me as a big problem in need of a fix.

It might instinctively sound like a trivial issue, but not being able to find babysitters, especially at short notice, is a problem that has a material impact on a parent's day-to-day.

It decimates our social lives, can erode key relationships and causes us to miss out on the fantastic fun, romance and opportunity that independence and spontaneity brings.

But what about trust? Is it possible to deliver a transactional, mobile, childcare experience in the same way it's been done for takeaways, taxis and the rest?

We found our answer to this in the realisation that it is social validation and personal recommendation that parents rely upon to find their babysitters. And we believe that this is a dynamic that, with tech's help, can be built into an on-demand experience that parents will use and love.

At bubble, we use big data - e.g. a parent's friends on facebook, their phone contacts and the nurseries their kids go to - to connect them with babysitters from within their own personal networks. Babysitters that their friends already know, use and trust.

This connection is made instantly in our app, giving parents the confidence to book new babysitters on their mobile phone in just a minute.

The good news for parents today is that we're just one of many new tech startups emerging, built by parents, for parents. Others include mush, an app helping mums meet other local mums, and Hoop, an app helping parents find family friendly events going on around them.

Our utilities differ, but they share a commonality in that they're making parenting less tough by giving parents back more time. More time with each other, more time with our friends, and more quality time with our kids.

Tech is finally catching up with parenting.

It's about time.

Ari is a proud dad to two young kids, Zeb and Thea - the inspirations behind bubble; an on-demand babysitting app launched in London this July. Prior to bubble, Ari worked for fin-tech firm MarketInvoice, and internet betting exchange Betfair.

Bubble is available to download in iOS & Android now.