By Emily G. Peters
Between band practice and play dates, navigating transportation for the schoolkids is no simple task. Toss in other variables like a single-car/parent home or holidays when your kids are off (and you’re not) and you’re looking at a frustrating—and potentially expensive—conundrum to solve.
“As a working mother of two children in preschool, I had tried every existing childcare solution. Nothing could provide a reliable yet affordable supply of safe and trustworthy people who could drive my kids, combined with location tracking and instant communication, accessible from a mobile device at all times,” explains Sara Schaer, co-founder of Kango, a rideshare startup targeting busy parents and their equally busy kids. “As a product builder by trade, I resolved to take a shot at building a solution, and left my job Snapfish.com in late 2011.”
Together with her co-founder and CTO Kaliyuga “Siva” Sivakumar, Schaer originally launched Kango as a peer-to-peer platform for parents to help each other out with rides and other tasks. Today, Kango focuses exclusively on accessible rideshare and babysitting services.
“Kango provides on-demand and pre-scheduled rides for kids of any age (including those needing car or booster seats) with or without babysitting before or after the ride. You can also book a sitter for a separate childcare-only job,” says Schaer.
Like Uber and Lyft, the concept is simple: download the Kango app, schedule the ride/sitter, and get the kiddos where they need to go. But is it safe?
“All Kango drivers have childcare experience and have been fingerprinted, background-checked, and screened in person—all steps that the adult ridesharing services do not take. And you’ll know who your Kango driver is in advance. Our drivers can and do walk children in to sign them in, or park and go in to sign them out. It’s not just curbside-to-curbside,” says Schaer. With a spotless safety record under Kango’s belt for the entirety of its operation, Schaer notes that communication is also critical to ensuring kids’ safety.
“Parents should feel free to call us and speak to an actual person to explain how the service works for you and your child(ren). You can ask to meet your driver/sitter before the ride if you like—or ride along with your child the first time. You can even request your preferred drivers so that there is maximum consistency for your family,” she says.
Celebrating its first year in Los Angeles, Kango serves families all over the county, including those in the San Gabriel Valley. Schaer ultimately hopes to scale Kango to help even more families around the U.S. retrieve that ultimate commodity for themselves: time.
“What makes our day is when we hear a parent say the word ‘lifesaver’ coupled with ‘my child loves his/her Kango driver,’” says Schaer. “We want families to be able to be all that they can be—both parents and kids.”