A Denver, Colorado startup has achieved major success in under two years. Mobile app, Sitter has users in all 50 states, and co-founders Kristen Stiles and Matt Stueve do not plan on slowing down. Along with coworkers Dan Stiles and Lonnie Moy, the team exemplifies the growing success of entrepreneurs in Denver.
Sitter offers a quick and simple way to connect with babysitters through mutual friends. “If I have three sitters and you have three sitters, then together, we have six sitters,” said Stiles, Sitter co-founder and Chief Operating Officer. “We can expand our list of childcare providers without wasting time, vetting, or interviewing, because I would trust whoever my friends use, and they would trust whoever I use.”
After connecting with trusted babysitters through their network, the app allows users to contact all of them at once. The first sitter to respond gets the job. When parents return home, the app provides a simple way to pay their babysitters digitally. “We have an in-app timer that tracks how long you’re out, so at the end of the night, you just tap ‘pay,’ and it’ll calculate how much you owe them. You can add a tip or reimburse them for pizza or whatever, and it charges your credit card… the money goes directly to [the babysitter’s] bank account,” said Stiles.
While it’s simple for parents, the app was also designed with childcare providers in mind. Babysitters can use it to gain clients and get paid easily. “Sitters love it too because just like parents can connect with sitters, sitters can connect and expand their [client] list… If you’re a babysitter for me, and I’m connected to 20 friends, you can reach out to those 20 friends and introduce yourself,” said Stiles. Matt Stueve, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer added, “[Stiles] has a babysitter that only sat for [her], and after getting on the app, [her sitter] has at least 15 [clients].”
Concept, convenience, and function make Sitter’s success no surprise, especially with support from The Commons on Champa, a Denver public campus for entrepreneurship founded by Downtown Denver Partnership, Colorado Technology Association, and the City and County of Denver with the support of nearly 40 organizations.
When starting the company in June, 2014, the Sitter team needed a place to gather to work on building and improving their product. With Stiles living in Boulder and Stueve in Downtown Denver, they discovered how easily The Commons on Champa allowed them to collaborate face-to-face. “We try to get together at least once a week, and we were looking for a common place to meet up, and The Commons had opened up right before that, so we thought we’d check it out,” said Stueve. “Working from home suits us pretty well, but sometimes you just need to get out and be around other humans.”
The Sitter team continues to take advantage of the free co-working space, pleased with the unique amenities it provides. “When we [use] the conference room, [The Commons has] this portable, moveable whiteboard, so we can just lay it out, draw, and collaborate. It’s great, because when you’ve been working from home, it’s like we’re still working together. Being face-to-face is really valuable, especially when you’re collaborating on a feature [for the app],” said Stueve.
The Sitter team considers themselves lucky to have a unique space for entrepreneurship at their fingertips. “Whenever we tell other people what The Commons is, they’re floored that the city sponsors it. Coworking spaces are a business, and there’s a lot of money to be made there. So to find out that there’s a space available for free– I haven’t seen that in other places,” said Stueve.
Along with support from The Commons, Sitter attributes its success to starting in Denver, a reputably supportive community for small businesses. “Everyone kind of goes out of their way to help each other in the entrepreneurial community, and I don’t necessarily think that’s true in other cities. Denver is just such a friendly place,” said Stiles.
When it comes to entrepreneurship, community is important and Denver is one of the best areas for building a small business. “If we were to pick up and move to [another city], we may know some people out there, but it’s just not the same. It’s not nearly as tight, and it’s a lot more competitive,” said Stueve.
The community certainly seems to be responding well. In less than two years, Sitter has been featured in Colorado Parent Magazine and made Built In Colorado’s list of “50 Colorado Startups to Watch in 2016”. With users in all 50 states, Stiles and Stueve are working to improve the app and make it more user-friendly. “We’re not necessarily focused on downloads, but a lot more focused on the engagement and the customers that we have at this stage,” said Stiles. “Our goal is to make a product that our users love, and we’re constantly improving.”
To learn more about Sitter, visit http://sitter.me, and to learn more about The Commons on Champa or to join the community, visit www.thecommons.co.
By Rachel Nobles