“6 Marketplaces New Parents Should Know About” written by Jillian Salinas.
Surprise, happiness, excitement, disbelief, panic: these are some of the flurry of mixed emotions I felt when I found out I was expecting a baby and going to be a first-time parent. My husband, the sweetheart he is, was elated, and joyfully came home with flowers for me that night. Though, I am sure he must have felt some of these mixed emotions too. As soon-to-be first-time parents, we were moving into unknown territory. How would our lives change?
Of all the changes that were coming for us, what I don’t think either of us realized, was the massive economy we were becoming a part of. Parents in the U.S. spend approximately $1 trillion on children each year, and this number is continuing to rise. This includes spending on housing, transportation, food, apparel, healthcare, childcare and education. However, with Millennials now making up almost 90 percent of new parents, the trends in child-related spending is shifting.
As a Millennial myself, I know first-hand the key differences separating my digitally-native generation from the generations that came before us. We are highly adept at using technology, expect instant gratification, are extremely connected with our peers, and have different priorities than our parents did. In “How Millennials Are Changing Retail Patterns” on Forbes, Tom McGee writes “Millennials have grown up and matured with mobile technology and expect to be able to use it in every aspect of their life. They want to be able to make purchases, use social media, chat with friends, do online research and pay for products.” He adds that Millennials highly value a customer-centric experience, and with our love of experience over items, brands need to get creative and enable consumers to engage with their brands to encourage them to spend.
Entrepreneurs are clearly taking note of this, and online marketplaces that appeal to the Millennial mindset are popping up like wildfire. As my due date approaches, I have been knee-deep in research about all the things I will need for when the baby arrives (or even before he arrives), and it has been wonderful to have all these new marketplaces at my disposal. Below is a look at 6 of these marketplaces. They have been brought to life by Millennials’ preferences, are disrupting the parenthood economy, and new parents (or soon-to-be parents) should know about them.
One of the first things that crossed my mind when I found out I was expecting, was how and when I was going to tell my employer. Though the world has come a long way in how it views mothers in the workforce, the U.S. is the only industrialized nation not to mandate paid leave for mothers of newborns, and there is still a stigma for working women who become pregnant. I was afraid I would be written-off, not considering for any exciting projects or promotions, and that the reputation I had built of someone with a hard work-ethic would be lost.
Luckily, my actual experience when I notified my employer was far from this, and I was met with warmth from my supervisor, my team, and the human resources department. However, I did still have some concern about where all my responsibilities would fall when I went on maternity leave.
Welcome Emissaries, the first U.S. talent matching marketplace specializing in matching freelancers with top companies needing parental leave coverage. The company was founded by Melissa Meyer, who was an independent contractor that would often fill in at large companies when women went on maternity leave. As she described to Fast Company, she would even get calls from soon-to-be parents asking for her to cover for them during their maternity leave, “the first call would be to their doctor and then to me.”
Now with over 1,000 freelancers in Meyer’s marketplace, she has set up an Emissaries value system that these freelancers must adhere to. They must know their purpose is to serve and support the team they are filling in on and not be there trying to outshine an employee on leave. This ensures new parents feel comfortable leaving to bond with their newborns, and enables companies and teams to thrive.
Emissaries does not take a cut of the Freelancer’s pay. Instead, they charge $300/month to access their online marketplace and $150/hour for full-service contract recruiting. As companies policies around maternity leave continue to improve and more parents are able to take advantage of the time off to bond with their newborns, Emissaries and marketplaces like it, are going to be more and more in-demand.
“43 percent of highly qualified women with children are leaving careers or off-ramping for a period of time,” writes Sheryl Sandberg in Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (pg. 98). In today’s day in age, I was surprised to read that. When I was a little girl, I never dreamed of becoming a stay-at-home mom. I knew I would have children, but I also envisioned having a full-fledged career along-side that (whether I thought that was going to be as a cowgirl at age 5, a pilot at age 10, or a business woman as I got older). I doubt that the majority of women in my generation are any different. After all, we were raised to believe that even we could become president someday (even if it didn’t happen for a woman this year).
StartWithLucy is a tech-enabled marketplace for expectant and new-parents that provides the care needed to help women and men get back to work after becoming a parent. They aim to “create a future where women and men can better succeed as working parents.” The marketplace links new parents with doulas, parent coaches, lactation coaches, sleep support specialists, and financial planners. Their customers are companies who offer the service to their employees. Companies can subsidize a certain number of visits and families pay out of pocket after that. The marketplace is headquartered in San Francisco, CA and was founded by two women, Shannon Spanhake, and OB/GYN Dr. Chitra Akileswaran. StartWithLucy appropriately launched last year at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference in San Francisco and has already raised $2.25M in seed funding.
Millennial moms are highly connected and highly influential. According to a Weber Shandwick study, Millennial moms have more social network accounts than moms overall, 74 percent are sought out more often than their other friends as advisors, and they have an average of 24 close friends (as opposed to 22 close friends for the average mom). Additionally, approximately 25% would pay someone to help manage their busy lives. So, if you have large group of moms that value each other’s opinions and many of whom would pay for help, why not connect them and form a marketplace? This is exactly what Entrepreneur Elio Adragna is doing with Jugglr.
Jugglr is an online marketplace helping stay-at-home mothers buy each other’s services. The app connects local moms and allows them to continue to practice their professional skills by offering them to other mothers. To join the app, a new user must be verified by an existing user, and the app does a social media scan for further validation. This method of signing-up, taps right into two things the Millennial mom is all-too-familiar with: social media and networking with friends. Through the app, moms can hire someone for household chores, personal training, tutoring, setting up playdates, and more. The app is currently 5,000 strong and continues to grow as it expands into new neighborhoods.
I’ve not even given birth to my first child and I have already spent hundreds of dollars on baby clothes. I can’t imagine what that number will add up to as my newborn quickly grows out of his clothes with each passing month. On average, parents with school age children spend almost $700 a year on their children’s clothes. With how fast kids grow and how much parents spend, the introduction of Kidizen, a marketplace for secondhand children’s apparel, may be able to save parents hundreds of dollars each year on clothes.
Kidizen was founded by three parents: Dori Graff, Mary Fallon, and Dug Nichols. The marketplace has a mobile app where parents can take photos of their children’s clothes and sell them. It also features an online community with a social network component. Parents can post photos of their children’s style, browse other children’s styles, and users can comment on each other’s photos. Kidizen raised $3.2M in funding in March of 2017 as it positions itself for growth. With the cost of children’s clothing, I know I plan to give it a try.
As the daughter of a former flight attendant, I was raised with a love of travel. I try to go on as many trips as possible each year and I don’t plan to stop when the baby arrives. I want my child to experience all the amazing places around the world that I have had the pleasure of visiting. With my generation’s value of experiences over ownership of things, I would bet that as more Millennials become parents, we will see a rise in the amount of vacations families take each year. However, one obstacle to this that I haven’t had to overcome yet, is all the things that I will have to bring with me when I travel with a baby. As my cousin emphasized when she was helping me create my baby shower registry, “babies come with a lot of stuff.”
Not only does the hassle of carrying a stroller, car seat, crib, and more to the airport sound daunting, I don’t even want to know what that extra checked luggage is going to cost me. Luckily, founder Natalie Kaminski saved me from worrying about any of this, when she founded goBaby in 2015.
goBaby can be best described as the Airbnb for baby gear rentals. Instead of trucking all my baby’s stuff across the country for that vacation in New York, I can simply login to the goBaby app and set up a rental for it from local parents in that area. The marketplace emphasizes trust & safety, and owners must go through ID verification, gear quality checks, and community reviews. At rental rates between $8-$20, it will surely cost you less than checking all that stuff onto an airplane when you travel.
I would be remiss in talking about marketplaces for new parents, if I didn’t cover Care.com. By far the most recognizable name on this list, and one of the first parent-centered marketplaces to appear, Care.com is a marketplace that connects people looking to hire someone for care with caregivers in their area.
The company was started by Sheila Lirio Marcelo when she had trouble finding someone to help care for her first child, and her aging father. Now the site features over 25M members in 20 countries, and has expanded, offering child care, adult and senior care, pet care, and home care. If you are looking for a reputable company to find a sitter for your baby, it’s worth checking out Care.com.
Each of these marketplaces focus on different aspects of having and raising children, but they all have one thing in common: they make life easier for new parents. Whether it’s helping parents bond with their newborns, get back to work, travel, shop, or connect with each other, they all serve a meaningful purpose. These marketplaces are building communities, making use of Millennials’ favorite mobile technology, and are disrupting the parenthood economy for the greater good. I am looking forward to watching each of these companies grow to their full potential and seeing what other new marketplaces pop-up to help parents in near the future.