WELCOME TO THE SITTER-VERSE DAN AND KRISTEN STILES TURN NECESSITY INTO AN INVENTION

WELCOME TO THE SITTER-VERSE DAN AND KRISTEN STILES TURN NECESSITY INTO AN INVENTION

by Tony Phifer

THE STORY BEHIND SITTER has a familiar twist: It took a mother, with a necessity, to come up with an invention.

“My husband travels a lot, and I had a work meeting I had to miss because one of my kids was sick,” said Kristen Stiles, founder and CEO of Sitter Inc. “That was it. I was so frustrated because I knew there has got to be a better way to find a babysitter than texting and waiting, texting and waiting.”

Sitter is a new smartphone app that allows parents to find babysitters for any occasion in a matter of minutes. The process is similar to sending a text message, allowing parents to tap into a network of trusted babysitters. The first person to respond to the request gets the job; the app even takes care of paying the sitter.

The application is the brainchild of Kristen (’00, Business Administration) and Dan (’00, Engineering) Stiles, who met and fell in love while seniors at Colorado State University. They have two young boys — Ben, 8, and Cole, 3 — and live in Boulder, where both have enjoyed successful careers outside the app world.

Like most parents, finding balance between work, kids and marriage was a challenge for the Stileses. And finding a babysitter was an enormous source of frustration.

“The reaction of most parents to the app has been, ‘Why hasn’t this been done before?’ ” Kristen said. “Really, it’s kind of a no-brainer. The more I talked to other parents the more I realized I wasn’t the only one who dreaded the babysitter waiting game. I became more and more inspired to make this happen.”

Sitter (available in the App Store and Google Play for your smartphone) was launched in June 2015 and has been an instant hit. Thousands of parents in all 50 states, in cities large and small, have downloaded the free app and put it to work for them.

The average response time is between 4 and 10 minutes, but the record is 12 seconds. The more sitters in your network — which parents develop by sharing information with other parents — the faster the average response. If you have five to seven sitters in your network you will successfully land a sitter 98 percent of the time.

“The magic moment for me came early on when I actually booked a date night without first checking with Kristen — and I did it in less than a minute,” Dan said. “It was a liberating moment for me as a father and husband. I talk to dads all the time who thank us for creating Sitter.”

Eventually, a premium version that will charge a modest fee for users will be launched. For now, the Stileses are committed to utilizing user feedback to make Sitter as good as it can be — and free for all.

“I was just a mom with a problem,” Kristen said. “Sitter is completely free because we want to help parents like us solve a problem. We want to create a product that people love and that makes a difference in their lives. The response has been amazing and overwhelming. We couldn’t be more pleased.”

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