Joanna McFarland received the idea for HopSkipDrive in 2014 because she needed a solution to a problem many working parents like her face: How do you consistently get your kids where they need to be on time?
The idea arose at a birthday party she attended with one of her children. The subject of moving children came up and every mother had her own story of a situation where she felt she had to let her child down because there was no way to get them to whatever destination they were going to.
McFarland launched HopSkipDrive with Carolyn Yashari Becher and Janelle McGlothlin — the three have eight children between them — as a way to try to safely address this issue by hiring third-party safe drivers to drop their kids off.
Little did HopSkipDrive know at the time that it was entering a space where there would soon be quite a few startups raising venture capital to try to tackle the problem as well. Newton, Massachusetts-based Shepherd tried to solve the problem by driving kids around in tricked-out Land Rovers equipped with snacks and iPads. Los Angeles-based Shuddle looked more like an Uber for kids, offering on-demand rides.
Many of these startups have since gone out of business. HopSkipDrive is not. Why? Because the early shift away from focusing only on parents as the only customers opened up a new revenue stream and pushed the company forward after many of the companies that had failed.