In the Business of Caring
University Sitters and Helpr founders Becka Klauber `07 and Kasey Edwards `07 on high-tech childcare support and connecting with other women entrepreneurs
By Marge Pamintuan Perko
Start-up executives Becka Klauber and Kasey Edwards built their nanny and babysitter placement agency University Sitters from a core group of six students living in a house together in Santa Barbara. “We always babysat in college to earn a living and pay for school,” said Edwards, who met Klauber at the Santa Rosa dorms during their freshman year at UC Santa Barbara. “We found the resources and the gumption to interview families as we were babysitting, and set up backup support if one of us couldn’t make it.”
University Sitters now helps thousands of families from San Francisco to San Diego. The Los Angeles-based agency will be transitioned into the high-tech sector with Helpr, an Uber-like booking service for sitters focused on serving clients in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Orange County. “We seek to elevate childcare employees and want to allow them to take on-call jobs,” said Edwards.
One of the main goals of their business model is to create better standards for their network of nannies, doulas and sitters. “Childcare providers are passionate about their work,” said Klauber. “These men and women don’t want to give up their careers. We want to make sure they receive a living wage, so the marketplace doesn’t lose the specialization they’ve earned over the years. We have a lot of protections in terms of pricing and bookings.”
Klauber and Edwards hope their placement services will become part of corporate employee packages for working parents. “We’re putting out a call to action to parents, to express to their companies the need for childcare as part of their benefits package, a subsidy that can reduce absenteeism due to school closures and sick days,” said Klauber.
The start-up executives also want to build support for fellow female entrepreneurs in the high-tech sector. This idea took form in their latest venture created with nine other female entrepreneurs in Female Founders LA (#FFLA), a monthly networking session for business leaders based in the Los Angeles area. “We want women to make an impact in our ecosystem of tech start-ups,” said Edwards. “We believe equality for all gender identities is good for the economy.”
Klauber and Edwards also work together on a much more personal endeavor: co-fostering a ten-year old girl placed in their care by the Olive Crest agency. “It’s been the most important thing in my life,” said Klauber.
As women working in a male-dominated field, these UCSB graduates work hard to bring a different point of view on how to do business – and how to create progressive collaborations.“We both have strong mothers who taught us well to believe in the abundance that exists in the world - and to share it,” said Edwards.