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How a pivot helped HopSkipDrive succeed in an industry where many failed

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Joanna McFarland has the idea for HopSkipDrive in 2014 because she needed a solution to a problem that many working parents like herself face: how do you consistently get your kids where they need to be on time?

The idea came about at a birthday party she attended with one of her children. The topic of moving children came up and every mother out there had their own story about a situation where they felt they had to abandon their child because they had no way to get them to the destination.

McFarland launched HopSkipDrive with Carolyn Yashari Becher and Janelle McGlothlin – the three have eight children – as a way of trying to safely address this problem by hiring safe outside drivers to take their kids around.

HopSkipDrive was unaware at the time that it was entering a space where there would soon be quite a few startups raising venture capital to tackle the problem as well. Newton, Massachusetts-based Sheprd tried to solve the problem by driving children around in tricked-out Land Rovers equipped with snacks and iPads. Los Angeles-based Shuddle appeared to be more of an Uber for kids by offering rides on demand.

Many of those startups have since gone bankrupt. HopSkipDrive does not have that. Why? Because an early move away from just focusing on parents as the only customers opened up a new revenue stream and helped the company move past many of the businesses that failed.


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