Need to get your kids from school to soccer practice in Santa Monica while you’re at work?
There are now a pair of services for that – and they’re not named Uber or Lyft, since it is the policy of those companies not to carry passengers under the age of 18.
Venice’s Sloop Inc. launched a product last month that allows parents to schedule rides through its website for passengers ages 8 to 18. Sloop only serves the Westside, and rides have to be arranged at least 24 hours in advance.
“It seemed like a really great place based on density of families,” said co-founder and Chief Executive Jay McClary on the choice of location.
The company defines its service area as west of the 405 freeway and north of Culver Boulevard, extending into Pacific Palisades. McClary said the company plans to expand down the line. Given its early stage, he declined to disclose its number of drivers or customers.
A Sloop iOS app is slated for release in the coming weeks, and an Android version is also expected.
McClary and his Sloop co-founder, software developer Derrek Long, previously worked together at taxi-booking and payment app Curb, formerly known as Taxi Magic, which is headquartered in Alexandria, Va. McClary served as the company’s vice president of product, marketing and operations.
In January, the Business Journal reported on a similar downtown L.A. startup in beta mode called HopSkipDrive Inc. The company, which serves customers ages 7 and up, had its official launch in March and is available on iOS, Android and through a browser. Its roughly 100 drivers cover much of the greater L.A. area, including the Westside, Pasadena and the eastern San Fernando Valley.
HopSkipDrive co-founder and Chief Executive Joanna McFarland, a former vice president and general manager of consumer finance at downtown L.A.’s Oversee.net, said 1,000 people have signed up for the service. The company has plans to expand its reach to the South Bay and other parts of the Valley soon.
McFarland co-founded the company with Chief Operating Officer Carolyn Yashari Becher and Chief Marketing Officer Janelle McGlothlin.
Like Sloop, HopSkipDrive also requires customers to schedule rides at least 24 hours in advance. Each startup received angel investment, though neither disclosed the amount.
Both companies have rigorous vetting procedures for its drivers, including personal interviews, background and reference checks, in-person training and 19-point vehicle inspections.
However, there are a few differences. Sloop has a minimum age of 21 for its drivers, while HopSkipDrive chauffeurs must be 23. Both recruit current and former caregivers, such as teachers, nannies and nurses, though HopSkipDrive mandates five years of child-care experience. It has also partnered with driving analytics startup Zendrive to monitor behaviors such as speeding or texting while driving.
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