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Startup Corner: Kari Hamra and Sarah Howey, SelectSitter App/A&S Select LLC

Springfield’s startup community is here. Take the pulse.

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Minimally viable product …
A mobile app that connects parents to available and trusted sitters in their area through their social network.

Problem solving …
We’re streamlining the booking process and creating a one-stop shop for finding and sharing sitters. SelectSitter saves parents time and provides a network of sitters their friends already use, trust and recommend.

Seed money …
We [the Howeys] and the Hamras each put in some money for the initial development cost. Fortunately, we were selected for the business accelerator program at The eFactory and received $30,000 for 8 percent equity in the company.

Hurdles overcome …
Not having a developer on our team. We have to rely on someone else to carry out our vision, for any and all updates, new features and fixes. Although we’ve had great developers, they have other commitments. Waiting can be hard as time is of the essence in getting off the ground.

Next phase …
We are actually due to relaunch with some upgrades and new features this month, which will provide a better user experience. Our plan is to get traction in Springfield over the next several months and then expand to other cities with similar demographics. Long-term, we want to broaden the app to offer other valued services that also are best found through word-of-mouth recommendations, like pet sitting and house sitting.

Pivot …
We wanted to do too much too fast. We have slowed down and are focused on creating a quick and simple way to carry out our mission: find and share great sitters.

Biggest mistake …
We wish we would have included in-app payments from the beginning. This is another process that will take additional resources, so we’ll have to wait and implement the feature in a future release.

Best advice …
Pick one thing you want to accomplish and get it right. Get traction and prove it’s a good product, then expand if the answer is yes.

Greatest need …
Help spread the word. We want to be parents’ first thought when they need to book a sitter, and we want sitters to find value in signing up for the app, which is currently free to all users.

Food for thought …
If you have the chance to apply for an accelerator program, here or elsewhere, do it. We have learned so much, and the connections, presentations and resources have been so valuable.


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