Sacramento teenagers Annie Randle, Jake Randle and Christian Burnham didn’t know how to build an app, but they didn’t let that little hurdle prevent them from creating one. Their NannyMe app went on sale on the Mac App Store in October.
Parents use NannyMe to find teen baby sitters; baby sitters use it to find work. Right now, Burnham and the Randle siblings are focused on expanding the number of parents and sitters in Sacramento, but they have a plan to expand their geographic footprint in coming years.
“When Christian and I go off to college,” Annie Randle said, “we’ll be looking to take the business with us and expand it in new cities. We’re looking to franchise the business, and we hope our nannies who are also seniors will take it with them so we can expand the NannyMe app in cities where they go to college. We’ll expand it that way, city by city.”
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Last summer, Annie Randle and her brother decided they couldn’t wait any longer to make their business dream come true. Jake Randle texted Burnham, 18, a friend from his Future Business Leaders of America club at Jesuit High School, typing up a note that most people age 30 or over would think was a joke: “Hey, let’s start a business.”
Burnham’s reply: “OK, I’ll come over.”
After absorbing episodes of ABC-TV’s “Shark Tank” and hours of brainstorming, the Randles and Burnham thought they had hit upon a market gap in Sacramento. Parents are always looking for last-minute baby sitters, said Annie Randle, NannyMe’s CEO. And, she said, talented teenagers want jobs that they can fit around the demands of studying, sports, volunteering or extracurricular clubs. So far, Annie Randle has approved about 30 baby sitters for duty and 50 families as customers.
The three teens actually tried to develop the app themselves, said Jake Randle, 16, but they realized they were out of their element. At first, they thought they could find another high school student who could do the job, but eventually they concluded that they would have to hire an app developer. How much would that cost, they wondered, a few hundred bucks? They did the research and discovered they might need tens of thousands of dollars.
“We’re high schoolers, and we didn’t have a lot of money to invest,” said 18-year-old Annie Randle. “So we put together a business plan, and we actually did countless numbers of presentations to different investors and people around Sacramento, including family and friends. People said, ‘No,’ which was kind of discouraging, but we kept going.”
They raised roughly $20,000, including some of their own money. After interviewing a number of app developers, Burnham and the Randles hired Microsan Consultancy Services in Rocklin. They decided on the name, NannyMe, rather than BabysitMe because they thought “nanny” better reflected the quality of service they planned to offer, said Jake Randle, a junior at Jesuit.
Annie Randle said: “We strive for our sitters to be more like nannies. They’re not sitting on a couch, texting on their cellphone while the kids are doing who knows what. They’re interacting with the kids, and they’re playing outside with them. They’re constantly on their game.”
The Randle siblings recalled many, many days of working from dawn to dusk and falling asleep at their computers, as they tried to get each screen of their app just right.
“That was the hardest part, just thinking through everything, that if you click this, it has to go through another screen, and if you click that, it has to go to another screen,” said Annie Randle. “Every single piece of it had to mesh together because we wanted it all to fit and work in the end.”
The free app allows parents to seek a sitter for last-minute engagements or hire the same sitter over and over again. There is no fee to become a sitter.
Parents pay NannyMe a flat fee of $12 an hour for one child, $15 for two to three, and higher for more children, payable by credit card or PayPal. NannyMe takes a percentage of that fee to pay for arranging the service and to cover credit card fees and taxes.