From The Straits Times    |

Image: Amanda Ong

Amanda Ong had just delivered her second child when her confinement plans went awry: the confinement nanny cancelled at the last minute citing family plans, and because it was the Chinese New Year season, she was unable to arrange for another that could start work immediately. To make matters worse, her domestic helper had to be let go due to a breach of her employment contract.

“It was a double whammy for my husband and I and we were at our wits’ end. We were mentally and physically exhausted from looking after a toddler and an infant. We tried looking for help on various platforms but also felt uncomfortable posting private information on public forums,” she says. She adds that while her parents offered to help, she was worried that it would be exhausting for them to look after two kids under two.

Credit: Amanda Ong

This experienced inspired the 30-year-old to find a solution for parents who need urgent help, so in June last year, she gave up her job at a human resource consulting firm to launch a babysitting app.

Affordable solution

Aunty connects parents to babysitters and bookings can be made from one hour to three months in advance. It is now available on App Store and Google Play and has had 300 downloads since its launch last October.

“I hired an app developer to develop the app and spent money, mostly from my savings, to get it going,” explains Amanda.

Users can see all the sitters available when they use the search function and read through bios, reviews and references before sending requests to the sitters of their choice. The hourly rate for each sitter is displayed in their profile and as of now, the average rate is $20. The best part? Aunty does not charge a booking fee.

“We want to make it affordable for parents. However, running an app has its fair share of operating expenses, so we charge sitters a small percentage for using the platform.”

Vetting process

Amanda vets the sitters by not only having them submit copies of their NRIC and certifications, if any, but also conducts at least two reference checks with previous employers. She also encourages parents to interview sitters before making a hiring decision.

“We encourage them to get to know the sitters better first, and the app has a messaging function where parents and sitters can communicate their expectations and requirements,” she says.

Credit: Amanda Ong

And the sitters don’t necessarily have to be parents themselves.

“We do not discriminate, and sitters who do not have children usually indicate that they are only able to watch older children—some of them are ex-preschool teachers or university students. Many of the university student applicants can care for children aged five and above and they have a lot of fun together.”

Looking to start your own business? Amanda has some advice: appreciate all good things that come your way.

“In our daily chaotic lives where we try to solve many problems at work and at home, this will help you to enjoy the entrepreneurship journey especially when things get difficult.”