Carpooling is so last year, says San Francisco-based Shuddle, an Uber-like service for children (eight and up), but with a stricter screening process for drivers.
Founder Nick Allen built the company after seeing parents use ride-hailing services like SideCar, his former employer, to transport their kids. You must be 18 years or older to open an account with Uber.
Shuddle is in its infancy, but already has a fleet of around 200 drivers. The company announced Wednesday that it has raised $9.6 million US from investors.
"These are very different businesses from a brand and direction standpoints," he tells Forbes. "Families need to be scheduled, and that requires entirely different technology and interface."
You may be thinking, who would let their kid get in a car with a perfect stranger — alone? Allen says he's dealt with these doubts before.
"I heard the same argument when we started Sidecar, that no one wanted to get into a car with a random stranger," he told Forbes. "But kids already do that: taking carpools, riding on the school bus or city bus, riding a bike to school themselves."
Shuddle has a host of security features that companies like Sidecar and Uber do not have: Parents receive a notice when their child is dropped off, and children have a secret password to identify their driver. There’s a rigorous system of background checks and interviews for each driver who is hired.
Allen also told Siliconbeat that most children who use Shuddle are around 11 and 12 years old. Shuddle drivers have been asked to transport kids to a variety of activities such as school, sports, ballet class, gymnastics class and between homes of divorced parents.
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