Los Angeles-based ridesharing startup HopSkipDrive officially launched in Denver this week, allowing busy parents a convenient option for shuttling their children to and from school. The company’s drivers are required to have childcare experience and must pass an extensive background check before getting behind the wheel.
HopSkipDrive is the brainchild of Carolyn Yashari Becher, Janelle McGlothlin and Joanna McFarland. The three women founded the company in 2014 after they realized that busy parents would pay to have moms and off-duty babysitters shuttle kids around for them. After snagging more than $17 in seed money from Santa Monica’s Upstart Ventures venture capital firm, the company was able to expand into Orange County and San Francisco.
Unlike other ridesharing services that do not accept unaccompanied minors, the company is geared towards children. HopSkipDrive accepts passengers between the ages of 6 and 17. Every HopSkipDrive driver must have practiced in the field of childcare for at least five years and each driver is required to undergo an extensive background check, including fingerprinting. The majority of the company’s drivers are females above the age of 23.
The company offers solo rides for children or carpooling for larger groups. Like other ridesharing businesses, the rides are coordinated using a smartphone app. Business rates for schools and sports programs needing to shuttle kids around are also available. Pricing for Denver patrons starts out at $16 for a solo ride and $6 for a child taking a carpool.
HopSkipDrive is not the only ridesharing company to focus on kids. Last spring, Uber briefly flirted with offering an Uber Teen service for adolescents before abandoning the idea. Meanwhile, Redwood City-based startup Zum has started providing rides to kids in California. The ridesharing business can be tough for some competitors. Rival transit company Shuddle closed in 2016 after only two years.