HopSkipDrive, Ridesharing Company for Kids, Doubles Fundraising

Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

HopSkipDrive, Ridesharing Company for Kids, Doubles Fundraising

HopSkipDrive, the Los Angeles-based ridesharing company for kids, announced Tuesday it has raised an additional $22 million in funding to continue to fuel its expansion into new markets.

The company was founded in 2014 by three L.A. working moms wrestling with how to transport their overscheduled kids to and from school and all their soccer games and violin lessons. It now operates in 13 markets in eight states plus Washington D.C., up from five markets in two states a year ago.


"The capital will really help us expand to more markets and service as many kids as we can," co-founder and CEO Joanna McFarland told dot.LA in an interview Tuesday.

HopSkipDrive does not view Uber and Lyft as competitors because those services bar riders under 18 (though it is debatable how strictly that rule is enforced.) Riders can be as young as six on HopSkipDrive, and drivers have to pass a rigorous 15-point screening process.

McFarland said L.A. is still the company's number one market, but she is seeing strong growth in Denver, Seattle, Dallas, and Houston.

Most recently, HopSkipDrive entered Las Vegas last month and announced a partnership with Clark County Child Welfare Services. The company won't enter a market until it has such partnerships in place, which account for the "vast majority" of its revenue, according to McFarland. HopSkipDrive now has contracts with 200 schools, districts, and counties, including Los Angeles County, Seattle Public Schools, and Green Dot Public Schools.

Interestingly, 90% of drivers are female. The company did not set out for that to be the case but by virtue of requiring its drivers to have at least five years of experience as a child caregiver, it has ended up with few males.

For customers used to summoning rides in minutes on other apps after a few taps on a smartphone, one of HopSkipDrive's limitations has been a requirement that users have to book rides eight hours in advance. "We'll continue to narrow that gap - that booking window," McFarland said.

Cyrus Capital Partners, State Farm Ventures, Upfront Ventures, FirstMark Capital and Greycroft participated in the round, which doubles the company's fundraising total.

In November, HopSkipDrive relocated to a new headquarters in the ROW DTLA, where it has about 100 employees and is looking to add more.

"We're hiring," McFarland said. When asked what positions the company is looking to fill, she quickly replied: "Everything!"

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

Cadence

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

Read moreShow less

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

Read moreShow less

AmazeVR Wants You To Attend K-Pop Concerts Virtually

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

AmazeVR Wants You To Attend K-Pop Concerts Virtually
Photo courtesy of AmazeVR

Virtual reality startup AmazeVR now has $17 million to further expand its VR concert experience.

The West Hollywood-based company’s latest funding amounts to a bet that virtual shows, a staple of the pandemic, are here to stay. Mirae Asset Capital led the Series B funding round, with Mirae Asset Financial Group subsidiary (Mirae Asset Venture Investment), CJ Investment, Smilegate Investment, GS Futures and LG Technology Ventures investing again. Mobile game maker Krafton joined the group—but South Korean entertainment company CJ ENM’s stake reveals AmazeVR’s plans to expand into K-pop world.

Read moreShow less
RELATEDEDITOR'S PICKS
LA TECH JOBS
interchangeLA
Trending