HopSkipDrive, Ridesharing Company for Kids, Doubles Fundraising
Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior reporter, covering venture capital. 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. Follow him on Twitter.
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!"
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- Founded in 2018 by veterans of the digital music business, the company's customers include iHeartMedia, Sonos, Peloton and Octave Music Group
- Its leaders envision a new audio listening experience — where everyone has a personalized, curated playlist, with artful, AI-generated sequences and layers of music, voice clips (e.g. news and podcasts), and branded messaging that drives new revenues to the music industry
Before the beat from "Baby Got Back" that underpins Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda" fades to silence at the song's end, a sound clip pops up, right on rhythm and with a similar energy, telling the listener what streaming service they're listening to. A new track seamlessly takes the baton from the Minaj song before the brief branded message concludes, and continues the upbeat mood as a music bed for a rapid sequence of audio clips – first a voice imploring listeners to get hyped, then a word from Kanye about his interview with Beyoncé, a snippet from that interview, and another in-the-spirit advert – before blending into the intro of the next song, Kanye's "Stronger": all of it interwoven as if it were a single track produced in a recording studio.
Super Hi-Fi's customers include iHeartMedia,