Once upon a time, parents (aka “mothers”) hauled their kids all across town, to all their different activities, all the time.
Then came Uber. It’s a great, easy-to-use driving service. The downside is: You’re never really sure who is driving your kids.
The app is — well, an uber-Uber. Aimed specifically at the pre-teen and teenage market, it addresses the sketchy-driver question head-on.
Drivers are nannies, teachers, babysitters — and especially mothers. In fact, 85% of all drivers are moms.
Each is carefully vetted. They must have at least 3 years of childcare experience. They’re fingerprinted, and their driving records checked. They must supply references. Their vehicles are inspected too.
VanGo is the brainchild of Marta Jamrozik. (The app’s great name was her husband’s idea.)
Marta lives in Norwalk; her parents are Westporters. A former management consultant with a Fortune 500 company and a Forbes “30 Under 30” honoree, she’s intimately familiar with the pressures of suburban parenting — including how to get your kid from Point A to Points B, C, D, E and F, then home for dinner.
While dads do their share of driving, Marta knows the burden falls disproportionately on women. By easing it for them — and hiring so many women as drivers — she calls VanGo “a feminist company.”
Since the June launch, the app has been downloaded over 1,000 times. Many of those users are Westporters.
“There are so many working parents” here, Marta notes. They use VanGo not just to manage their schedules — to stay later at work, for example — but to manage their personal lives too. A parent who is not chauffeuring can squeeze in a yoga or fitness workout, she notes.
VanGo is not just an after school service, Marta says. Parents also use it during those stressful mornings, when driving a child to school may clash with an early train or meeting.
More features: Parents can schedule “recurring rides” (say, ballet every Wednesday from 4 to 5 p.m.) with ease. They can book in advance. And they can track each ride from start to finish, via GPS.
Feedback has been strong. A single mother of a pre-teen son was frustrated with Uber. “They often get our address wrong, do not wait, and are really not geared toward younger riders,” she says.
VanGo’s drivers wait. Her son often has the same drivers. And when she speaks with them, “they’re parents themselves — so they get it.”
It is a little more expensive than Uber. But, this mother says, “the peace of mind is worth it to me.”
Slide over, Uber. There’s a new driver in town.