Working parents face a unique set of daily challenges, but local mom Kellee Mikuls has made it her mission to ensure that finding child care isn’t one of them. In July 2020 Mikuls launched the first iteration of Swishboom, a mobile app that connects families to babysitters. Since then, the app has facilitated over 10,000 hours of babysitting and roughly $150,000 of fees for babysitters in the Omaha area alone. Today, the app has thousands of users nationwide.
The Lightbulb Moment
Mikuls said the concept was initially born out of a need to solve one of her own problems — finding a babysitter quickly.
At the time, Mikuls worked as a real estate broker which required many hours of networking. The mom of three continuously struggled to find a babysitter until one day when her mother-in-law, who works at Creighton University, suggested sending a mass text to a list of several medical students. In the text, Mikuls included details like the day, time and pay for the babysitting job. She received a response instantly.
“That was my lightbulb moment,” Mikuls said. “I knew what was needed: a broadcast system of jobs that would be sent to a group of trustworthy and capable sitters.”
With that notion in mind, Mikuls joined The Startup Collaborative and began developing a product with the intent to make lives easier for families.
How it works
Users can download the app for free and book sitters using their personal network at no cost. Those who do not have a network can tap into the app’s verified network of 100+ sitters in the Omaha area for a monthly subscription of $7.99.
On average, jobs are claimed within five minutes. Most sitters are in college, while some are single or stay-at-home moms looking to make an extra income for their families.
According to Mikuls, one of the factors that makes Swishboom different from other options is its five-step verification process, which includes making reference calls, checking sex offender registries, checking social media, performing a name and email check and calling potential sitters to discuss the app’s standards.
“We use human verification, meaning that every single family and sitter is verified by a real human on our team before they can post or accept a job,” Mikuls said. “This keeps the app safe and helps both parents and sitters have confidence that the other person is trustworthy. It is more labor intensive than a simple background check, but we have found that it helps the jobs get claimed quicker.”
Altering The Industry
As the cost of hiring a babysitter continues to increase and the weight of finding child care becomes more noticeable to all, Mikuls said Swishboom is changing the narrative.
The founder said she’s also noticed that there’s a strong willingness to work from college students.
“They like using Swishboom because it’s more of an on-demand job instead of a traditional schedule with set hours,” Mikuls said. “They can go on the app and claim jobs that fit their schedules.”
The startup ecosystem remains strong in Nebraska, which opens up even more possibilities for the app.
“There are a lot of local startups that have really paved the way to major success,” Mikuls said. “Swishboom could be next because we’ve gotten great support through the Greater Omaha Chamber and from former founders of successful companies that have sold for a lot of money who are willing to work to be advisors at no cost because they want to see Swishboom grow.”
Mikuls said Omaha is one of the best places to raise a family in the country, and a fam-tech company like Swishboom is helping to put Omaha on the map.
What Comes Next
Upon reaching 6,000 subscriptions in Omaha, Mikuls said the next step is to launch the app in other cities. Additionally, once upcoming fundraising is underway, the plan is to hire three to five new employees. Currently, Swishboom is also working with some local employers on adding the app as an employee benefit.
“It’s heartwarming to see that in Omaha — where everyone says is a great place to raise a family — employers are helping families find child care,” Mikuls said. “It shows that employers really value their employees and recognize that finding child care is a lot for parents.”
Mikuls said it’s been rewarding to see families continue to use the app for their babysitter needs. She equally enjoys knowing that the app allows sitters to support themselves or their families.
“As a mom who has been in the corporate world, I understand what it’s like to try to grow your career and also try to be present for your family,” Mikuls said.
“It feels like you’re being tugged in both directions. However, the app is a tool that allows people to stay in their careers while supporting their own mental health by going out and having a social life, too. The impact that the app has had on families and sitters so far has been really powerful for me.”