Datenight

Sponsored Content with: BDC

Couples with kids often find themselves like two ships passing in the night: between job demands and kids’ activities, there’s rarely much opportunity for time together one-on- one. That’s why the “date night” phenomenon has soared in popularity over the years.

Having an evening out without their children tugging at them is a great way for parents to reconnect with each other and relax. The only thing that commonly gets in the way is finding a babysitter. With fewer people knowing their neighbours or living close to family members, it can be hard to track down someone in their own community who’s trustworthy, responsible, caring, and willing to look after little ones.

That’s the exact dilemma that a new Canadian app solves. Launched in 2014 by Elize Shirdel, a mom of two boys, Datenight is the leading web- and mobile app for connecting parents with experienced, local babysitters in Toronto and, more recently, Ottawa.

Shirdel, who has her PhD in computational biology, came up with the idea after seeing for herself that the process of finding a great babysitter was frustratingly inefficient. In founding her company, she has assembled a team of moms that interviews candidates and recruits sitters.

Parents have the reassurance that the sitters have been vetted while still having the final say in whether they approve of them, with the convenience and speed of mobile technology to make the process smooth and seamless.

Although Datenight is just in its early stages, Shirdel managed to land a spot on Dragons’ Den—and ultimately sign a deal with Manjit Minhas.

Despite its success in the Den, the company still has some obstacles to clear in moving forward, according to Ravi Dindayal, Director of Marketing and Advisory Services. And other aspiring business leaders can learn from Shirdel’s experience with the Dragons.

“As a new parent myself, I definitely see the need for this kind of marketplace connection,” Dindayal says. “This is a huge market, but as Michele [Romanow] pointed out, it also comes

with heavy competition, and those competitors are proving that it’s hard to make money in this space. Although I understand the need for the app, I have to admit that I do share the same skepticism as some of the Dragons about using it.

“From an investor’s standpoint, I can see that there is a ton of value in the platform alone,” Dindayal notes. “But there is no guarantee that there will be retention. There is almost nothing stopping customers from walking away from the app after matching up with a qualified babysitter to avoid the subscription membership costs.”

There are never any guarantees of success when it comes to launching a new business, and even the most confident entrepreneurs need to make bold moves to bring their vision to life. Start-up financing like that offered at BDC is one effective way to kickstart the process.

Seeking guidance from mentors and other experienced business leaders is another. Shirdel left the Den with a valuable offer of advice from Romanow going forward.

“Michele’s offer of advice was a huge win for Elize,” Dindayal says. “Since this app is still in the pilot phase, that advice will be golden, and I would recommend to Elize that she try and get Michele to be a member of the board. Hopefully the Dragons can work together outside of the Den to help Elize solidify the business and help her to bring her solution to parents across the country.”​

This is paid content provided by or produced on behalf of BDC.

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