One year old. Their baby is just a year old. And with already more than 80,000 users in four countries, the least we can say is that its first steps are more than promising! In November 2015, Donatienne Van Houtryve and Geraldine Biebuyck gave birth to a collaborative application for organizing babysitting simply and effectively, and above all, with trustworthy babysitters. The strength of their application lies in its community approach where reviews and user recommendations promote the hiring of reliable babysitters. Both mums confide tous here the story of their success and their future desires for their quickly growing baby.
(Featured Image: Donatienne van Houtryve and Géraldine Biebuyck / Image Credit: Bsit)
Can you describe the concept of Bsit?
We wanted to simplify the lives of parents. Bsit is an application that connects parents with babysitters, enabling them to easily hire a babysitter. With a few clicks on the app, you can find and contact a reliable babysitter. How do we ensure that the babysitter is trustworthy? Through a collaborative model, Bsit has managed to “digitize” the notorious word-of-mouth –for what could be better in the quest to find a first-class babysitter than the advice and approval of a friend?
How did you come up with the idea of this app?
We are two active moms working full time and we had had enough of the large hassle involved when it came to finding a babysitter, especially when we needed one at the last minute. Sometimes we had to refuse invitations or cancel plans at the last minute when we weren’t able to find a babysitter. We wanted to implement a solution that gives room for the unexpected. Sites that offer sponsorships or interviews were not suitable for us.
“Our commission formula is simple: we charge an extra 15 minutes of babysitting.”
Why did you decide to launch? How did the idea materialize?
We wanted to make our lives easier and, by extension, other parents’ lives, through a collaborative experience. We also were fortunate to meet the right people at the right time. From the start we were very well surrounded by talent. We had highly skilled IT and technical teams with whom we shared the same motivations. This was very valuable.
What is your business model? How you do you earn money?
Our business model is based on volume, so through growth. Our goal is to become the leader in all countries. Our commission formula is simple: we charge an extra 15 minutes of babysitting, no matter the actual duration of the babysitting session. The commission therefore depends on the hourly rate, which is defined by the parent at the time of arranging the babysitting session.
What are the figures recorded since the launch?
Since our launch in November 2015, we have acquired more than 80,000 users, including 50,000 in Benelux and 30,000 users in France, a market that we only officially began targeting in September 2016. The ratio of users is about 50% parents and 50% babysitters.
How do you get the word out about your app?
The most important marketing weapon for us is word-of-mouth. Our users are our best ambassadors. Social networks help us a lot. The media also helps us tremendously, especially when we launch in a new country. Finally, we also allocate resources internally to expand our target markets, as we’re doing in France right now. All in all, we are already ten people.
“Since our launch in November 2015, we have acquired more than 50,000 users in Benelux and 30,000 users in France.”
What are the next steps in your development?
First we wish to firmly establish our presence in France. Then we would like to quickly expand into new countries, such as England, Switzerland and Germany. Our secret dream – well, I guess not so secret anymore – is to be present everywhere in Europe. We would also like to extend our services to all that is related to “child care.” For this, we rely on our users to let us know the additional services they need. Another of our babies also allows us to build a strong local connection and create trusted communities. It is our myBsit platform. Specifically, a club, an association or a group can create its own community within Bsit. We took the example of Les Gens de Confiance (translated in English to Trusted People), a French site that allows for secure group announcements and counts over 110,000 members. The fact that there is a “Trusted People”community on Bsit reinforces the feeling that parents are getting reliable recommendations and reviews of available babysitters on our platform.
How do you reconcile your life as mom-entrepreneurs?
As all active moms, we have indeed chosen to keep our respective professional activities and have arranged our schedules accordingly. We often have to tackle the question of how to best balance family life and work within our own company. However, when it comes to our app and platform, we find the energy to put in the hours at work because we are passionate about what we do. And as we have said, we are not doing it alone – we have a dynamic, high caliber team.
- Launching of the app AirBsit, later renamed Bsit
- 80,000 users
- 4 countries covered: Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and France
- Launch of myBsit platform
- Average hourly rate for babysitting in Belgium: EUR 6.35
- Targeting 3 new markets: Germany, UK and Switzerland
This article was first published in SILICON