One of the biggest struggles these days is balancing a career and family. The women of HopSkipDrive created their company as a way to help busy parents balance these two demands much more efficiently.
HopSkipDrive is a carpooling system in Los Angeles that allows parents to schedule drivers to bring their children to activities, school, or anywhere else.
“HopSkipDrive helps busy families get their kids to all of their activities safely and reliably. Using HopSkipDrive, parents can schedule rides for their kids (age 7-plus) with experienced, fully-screened caregivers. Every driver goes through a highly selective 15-point certification process,” Co-founder Janelle McGlothlin said.
McGlothlin, 43, along with Joanna McFarland, 38, and Carolyn Yashari Becher, 42, founded HopSkipDrive in May 2014 and launched their pilot in November that same year.
McFarland has two children, while Yashari Becher and McGlothlin each have three; therefore they all understand the struggle of making time for their children with their busy professional schedules.
McFarland and McGlothlin met when their oldest children were babies in a music class. They met Yashari Becher through a colleague. They had all been working on the same idea and decided it would be a smarter choice to collaborate rather than be competitors.
“We all have a great deal of respect for one another and our unique areas of expertise. We’re highly collaborative and have all brought a strong commitment to seeing this business succeed. It’s a very open, communicative team and we’re all focused on creating a company that is authentic and community-oriented,” Yashari Becher stated.
Before HopSkipDrive, they all worked in very different fields. Yashari Becher practiced law for 15 years and was executive director of Neuromuscular Disease Foundation. McGlothlin was the owner of WriteBrand Inc., a brand strategy and copywriting firm and spent 21 years in branding and marketing. McFarland worked for 10 years in tech product management and five years in investment banking and private equity.
“This idea was borne out of necessity! As working moms with eight children between us, we were all acutely feeling the pressure of juggling all of our kids’ activities. We knew there had to be a way to take some of the stress out of managing the family calendar. With constantly changing sports seasons and shifts in activities, we wanted to find a way to get our kids where they needed to go that wasn’t dependent on precarious carpool arrangements, calling in favors, or leaving work early,” McGlothlin said.
When using HopSkipDrive, parents must schedule their rides at least 24 hours in advance online. They are given a picture, a bio and a photo of the car of the driver they are matched with. A designated location is determined and on the day of the ride, the driver picks up the child at this location.
Part of the appeal of HopSkipDrive is the incorporation of technology to ensure the child’s safety.
“The parent receives a notification through the app and can track the ride in real time, as well. The parent is then also notified once the child is dropped off. At the same time, our live customer support is watching the ride in progress,” McFarland explained.
McGlothlin added, “We saw the technology developed by other ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft as a potential solution with the addition of much more stringent safety procedures. First and foremost, we’re moms. We worry about our kids, so we’ve built in safety measures before the ride, during the ride and behind the scenes that makes us feel comfortable sending our kids with HopSkipDrivers, too.”
Yashari Becher said, “The most important thing for anyone to know about HopSkipDrive is that safety is at the heart of everything we do. From the fact that our drivers are handpicked by picky moms, to our 15-point driver safety certification process, to every kid having their own unique password that their driver will tell them so they know they are getting into the right car, to the fact that our support teams track every ride in real time, we are obsessive about making sure kids get where they need to go safely and reliably.”
Many steps had to be taken to get HopSkipDrive up and running.
“We’ve accomplished a lot in a fairly short period of time – from developing the app and the back-end systems to obtaining unique insurance specifically designed for driving minors to obtaining our operating permit from the California Public Utilities Commission to recruiting drivers and riders,” McFarland said.
“When we started, we were told that we would never get insurance. And we did. We were told that we wouldn’t be able to get our permit. And we did. We have a strong business plan and a fierce determination to make this service available to help busy families just like ours,” McFarland added.
Their favorite part by far is hearing the feedback from the parents and kids. Many of their clients are working odd hours and cannot necessarily drive their kids to school and to their afterschool activities without taking time off.
“We love that we’re helping to lower stress levels for parents. We’re solving for a problem that many didn’t know how to solve. One of our parents, a doctor, was having to start working late two days a week to drive his daughter to school in the morning. Now he doesn’t have to. HopSkipDrive gets her to school and he can start seeing patients earlier. Another parent told us that we have reduced her driving time by nine hours a week and it has changed their family dynamic,” McFarland said.
The hope for HopSkipDrive is to be able to expand services nationwide and help as many families as possible. For more information about HopSkipDrive, visit www.hopskipdrive.com.
Kaylene Hersey is an intern at Lioness and is currently a senior creative writing major at Western New England University. She is from Colchester, Conn. Besides writing, she has a passion for baking and dancing, and she hopes one day to work in the Editing and Publishing world. If that fails, she plans to open up her own bakery.