SITSTER, the NEW must have babysitting app

Exploring the world
Do you remember the time you didn’t have to worry about babysitters? Prior to having children l’Homme and I were always out and about. We were out in town going to the movie, shows, meeting with friends without having to worry about anything but ourselves.
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Meeting with friends
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At weekends we were out visiting family and friends in France and in the UK, going on city breaks, on holiday or visiting places of interests.

Exploring Santorini
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Suddenly when our first little one was born things started changing. We were still able to do things at the weekend but during the week our outings in the evenings became more limited. With no family near us, we needed to organise a baby sitter and suddenly any outing became a bit of a luxury. Any plan was carefully selected and less spontaneous because of the cost – most baby sitters in London will charge you £10/hour.
We started taking turns to go out, except when we had a family member staying with us. In this instance, we would jump at the opportunity to have a date night because going out as a couple had become increasingly rare. One of the ‘resolutions’ I made this year is organise more nights out for l’Homme and I think we need to make more of an effort on that front and give more quality time to our couple.
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So when my fellow mum and friend Laura said she had come up a babysitting app I was all ears!
I met Laura when my first born started going to the same nursery as her son. After more than 4 years doing the drop off and pick up and bumping into each other on the train we became part with a few other mums of a nice little crew. So check this out, not busy enough being a employment partner in a law firm, looking after 2 boys and her household, having a social life and you know the rest, Laura just went and created a babysitting app! She gave her genius app the brilliant name:  SITSTER.
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Now let me tell you all about it.
SITSTER was created last year when Laura and her pals wanted to set up a babysitting circle.  Often they just wanted to go out for a couple of hours to a local restaurant or for a drink but paid babysitters tend to want you to be out for at least 3 hours to make it worth their while.  When you add the babysitter’s cost to the price of a meal or cinema tickets, it makes it an expensive evening and Laura and her pals were finding that it meant they hardly ever went out with their partners.  Setting up a babysitting circle meant they could arrange to babysit for each other for free – and their kids were happier being left with people they knew.  When they set up their babysitting circle they thought there would be a way to organise it using a mobile app already on the market. To Laura’s surprise there was nothing on the market in the Apple store nor on the Android market. She thought that through and decided to take the plunge and create her own app. This turned out to be a great adventure.
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A bit more about the process on to how the app was created:
I think it’s worth mentioning that although Laura was an app user she had no idea how to create one. At a work presentation, she met a developer who she cannily grabbed to pick up his thoughts on the potential validity of the app. He was interested by the idea, so she went away to design the look and feel of the app and asked him to develop it for her. The process was a labour of love, nearly a year between the initial idea and launch of the app. Since the initial launch before Christmas Laura has been gathering feedback from users and has worked with another developer to create an even better version 2, which has just been released in the App Store and Google Play.  I cannot wait for you all to find out more about it and…start using it yourselves and regain your social life as a couple (without the guilt of extra expense or leaving your kids with someone you barely know!)
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So how does SITSTER work?
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Sister the must have baby sitting app
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1/ you download SITSTER on the Apple Store or Google Play
2/ you fill in a few profile details, create babysitting groups and invite your pals to join.
3/ each member of the group starts with 5 points (or whatever number you choose).  1 point = 1 hour of babysitting
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Requesting a sitter
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4/ Every time you babysit for a friend you earn points based on the number of hours you do and every time a friend babysits for you, you use points.
You can be a member of several groups (e.g. antenatal group friends, school parents, neighbours etc.) and send a sitting request to all of your groups in one click.
Sitster schedules the sits in the app’s calendar and keeps track of everyone’s points.
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The app makes it much easier for parents to spend some time together.  And being a babysitter isn’t exactly a chore – not only are you able via the app to help a fellow parent and friend (which makes you feel pretty good!), you also get to relax in the comfort of your pal’s home without having to worry about all the jobs at home. For many people, it’s a chance to read, watch a film or plan their next night out.
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Friend baby sitting your kids
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It’s been an incredible learning curve for Laura but she sounded pretty darn excited when she told me everything she picked up during the creative process: from meeting inspiring mums and dads in the ‘parent tech’ community, to understanding more about the development of apps, to photoshop skills… She worked on the app in bursts such as during down time, late nights and weekends.
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This app-creating venture has given Laura the entrepreneurial bug. She’s loving being part of a community of parents who are also entrepreneurial and trying to make life easier for fellow parents.
And if reading about Laura’s story and SITSTER  gives you ideas, here are a few lessons learned along the way by Laura:
  • Developing an app can be expensive – Laura managed to get a pretty good deal but most London agencies will charge at least £30,000
  • Coming up with an app idea is something anyone can do – just think about how a problem can be solved or time can be saved using technology.  Often you’ll find someone’s already developed the an app for that, but if not you might have an opportunity
  • To create an app outside of work/family life is possible but it requires having to do it late in the evening and at weekends and it’s important to have a supportive partner!
  • The Apple store is very fussy about accepting a new app on its network (it involves a 7 day process with strict and careful rules that need to be respected about data privacy – which is reassuring of course!).  The Android process is quicker
  • Launching an app is exciting but because of the volume of new apps coming out every week there is a fair amount of work needed to promote it in the big wide world and this cannot be neglected nor can the fact it is it time-consuming.

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Follow SITSTER on Facebook by clicking here

And to download the app, it’s over here (for Android/and for Apple users)

http://www.sitster.co.uk

‘Sitster is a great new app for parents. Sitster makes it quick and easy to arrange baby sitting amongst a group of your trusted friends, using a points system so it’s free and fair.
Parents, we’re in this together – join the Sitsterhood and give each other a break!’
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Happy Date nights to all!
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happy couple off on a date

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