As a teen, Olivia Weinstock ran summer camps for children in her backyard. Her roster grew and grew, and by the time she was in college, families were clamouring for her childcare services.
“I grew up here in Columbus, in Bexley, and I’ve always loved kids. I realized too that I love building relationships in the community with families,” Weinstock said.
When she went away at college, Weinstock said that her babysitting contacts continued calling her, asking if she could recommend a local sitter. “I realized there needed to be a seamless place to start these connections, and that’s why we created Tandem.”
Along with her two co-founders, Natalie Amling and McKenzie Kennelly, Weinstock formed what she calls “a local connection platform,” that is completely online and 100 percent free. The concept gained momentum with families, but also with local investors interested in growing the company.
Having raised seed-round funding in September 2019, the technology start-up has focused on automating its free service. “When we started Tandem, we knew that to compete in this market, we needed to be 100 percent free,” said Weinstock. “Our service is free, without fees, to families. And providers do not see any sort of cut removed,” she said.
How do they do it? They make money through the platform’s banking system. Providers are paid as soon as they complete jobs through the system and may save, transfer or spend their earnings within the platform or with their Tandem debit card. Weinstock said her goal is to expand beyond childcare and enter into other hourly paid markets within the gig economy. For now, she will stick with solving the problem of childcare for many local families.
“Using our platform saves families time and money. It’s set up in a way to benefit both families and providers,” said Weinstock. “Because providers are paid through our platform, we take care of taxes as well, which takes a big weight off of our families.”
Tandem also vets the providers that they connect to families. All providers have had a background and reference check before they are eligible to be on the platform and enter a family home. Once eligible, that’s when the childcare “matchmaking” begins.
When a family enters its requirements into the Tandem platform, the back-end algorithm ensures all requirements are met when recommending a provider. Families set their own pay rates and Tandem sorts through their pool and requests applications from qualified providers. “Families don’t need to sort through tons and tons of applications. They need to see people who are relevant to their job,” she said.
With advanced preference matching capabilities, Tandem can filter for provider qualifications, such as age range, availability, CPR certification and more. Then the family may conduct as many interviews as they like, participating in a vetting process that is their own. The goal of this hands-on approach is to ensure customer satisfaction.
“We want to form long-term connections,” said Weinstock. “We try to be super understanding that each family’s needs are different, instead of telling them what they need.”19