An Uber-like app for kids may not be as crazy as you first think

Aug 9, 2016 at 4:39 p.m. ET
Image: Inti St Clair/Blend Images/Getty Images

Would you call an Uber for your kid and wave as they drove away? Not in a million years? Well, how about a ride-sharing service that's designed with children in mind?

Some of the best businesses are created out of the founder’s need to find a solution to a personal problem, and this was exactly the case for California mom of two Ritu Narayan, who started Zum when her kids started school and she needed a safe, reliable way of transporting them to and from school when she wasn’t able to.

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Zum uses a network of trusted child care providers (Zumers) who can drive children wherever they need to be. They can also provide babysitting services if required, or the Zumer can stay back with your kid at activities — be it a party, a playdate, a music lesson or a sports event. Effectively the Zumer is standing in for you when you can't be there.

Initially it does seem kind of like Uber for kids, which might not be what parents want to hear given the long string of controversies and scandals that have stirred criticism of the taxi-hailing app.

Some parents have been using the actual Uber to ferry their kids around even though the service isn't designed to take unaccompanied children. (Company policy is to not pick up anyone under 18 who isn't traveling with an adult, and minors can't have their own account, but Uber drivers are picking up kids anyway for fear they'll get a bad review.) 

Safety of our kids is paramount, so it's no surprise that some parents may be reluctant to use Zum. Letting your child get into a car with a complete stranger isn't something most of us would do in a hurry. But Zum insists it offers a "worry-free" service, and they certainly seem to have covered all bases.

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Unlike Uber, Zum customers receive a Zumer picture and profile at least 12 hours before the child is picked up. Each family is assigned five personalized, trusted and fully vetted drivers to establish familiarity and continuity. This means that although the Zumer will be a stranger the first time they pick up a child, if it’s a service the family uses on a regular basis, it won’t be long before their personal pool of Zumers are familiar faces.

Every Zumer has child care experience plus stellar driving and care records, and are subjected to national-level FBI and Department of Justice background checks and DMV record and referral checks on an ongoing basis. So they really can be trusted.

Each customer also has a dedicated "family assistant" who will be familiar with their needs and can be reached at the touch of a button. Parents get notified each time the Zumer picks up and drops off their kids.

So really, the only similarity between Zum and Uber is, um, a car. For busy parents who can't always pick up their kids from school or take them to their various after-school activities, Zum could be a godsend.

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Ritu was one of five pitchers featured at BlogHer16’s The Pitch, a SheKnows Media initiative designed to increase the ranks of women-owned businesses by giving entrepreneurs strategic access to female consumers via our massive marketing and media channels.

Would you let your kids hop a ride?

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car seat mistakes
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