April 20, 2016 / 11:54 PM / 3 years ago

Belgian mothers launch smartphone app for babysitters

(Reuters) - Dreaming of a babysitter at the push of a button? Well, there’s an app for that.

Inspired by their own struggles to find babysitters, busy Belgian mothers Geraldine Biebuyck and Dimitri De Boose created airBsit to connect babysitters with parents.

“The first idea was ... we need something to simplify our lives,” said Biebuyck, a mother of two with a high-powered job in finance who launched the small startup in Brussels.

In the four months since its launch, the free app has vetted and signed up 11,000 in Belgium alone, and is expanding its services to parents with jam-packed agendas in Amsterdam and Luxembourg.

Taking its cue from other popular sharing economy apps like Uber and Airbnb, the app allows parents to send details on how, where and when they need help at home to up to 20 babysitters.

The app then sorts available babysitters by location and ratings. On the other end, Babysitters receive a notification and can refuse or accept the offer.

For working mother-of-two, Barbara Bracquene, it has become a go-to crutch for last-minute planning.

“You just click once, send, then you have all the responses come in one go,” she said. “The app was a more efficient way to find the babysitter.”

The app’s two-way rating system allows both parents and babysitters to grade each other.

In a nod to social media sites, users can connect with friends to see which trusted sitters they are using.

One 20-year-old student who babysits part time says the app has helped her connect with more families.

“There was one family that I went to that lived right up my street,” she said as she played with a two-year-old girl she was babysitting. “They didn’t know I was living in their street.”

As its commission, AirBsit takes the fee for the first 15 minutes of a babysitting session. Biebuyck said it depended on reaching a critical mass to turn a profit and she hoped it would grow enough to be able to give parents the option of finding a babysitter within an hour.

Reporting by Hanna Knutson and Samantha Kummerer; Writing by Meredith McGrath; Editing by Andrew Roche

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