[Written in partnership with Sitly, but the editorial team had full control over the content.]
It’s not rare nowadays to see dual-career families where both parents are working. For families with young children, this creates a need for caretakers.
But caretakers that tick all the boxes are so hard to find, especially in Malaysia where nannies and babysitters still aren’t all that common.
Sure, there’s after-school care, but that might not work for all parents as the schedules can oftentimes be strict.
There are also agencies providing such services and online platforms such as Kiddocare that have popped up over the years. However, that might not work for some families looking for specific assets and agreements that are different from the pre-set rates.
An attempt to fill that gap comes in the form of Sitly, an online platform connecting babysitters with the parents who need them.
From the Netherlands to Malaysia
Jules van Bruggen was a new parent searching for childcare options when he realised there wasn’t a fitting solution available to him. Rather than an agency, he wanted something more flexible and tailored to his personal needs.
So, that was what he created with Sitly, a platform that connects families with babysitters and childminders.
Believing that many parents in Malaysia are looking for flexible childcare too, Sitly set up shop here 11 months ago, according to a LinkedIn post from Jules.
Being Sitly’s first foray into Asia, Jules expressed excitement over the expansion, describing Malaysia as a “country where [Sitly’s] type of service is still unknown.”
“Are we able to make families and childcare providers enthusiastic about a new way of finding childcare and jobs?” he mused on LinkedIn. “Are they willing to onboard and use it? Are we too early?”
Now, nearly a year since Sitly set foot in Malaysia, it has reportedly seen 40,000 registrations from both babysitters and parents, answering Jules’ initial concerns.
The platform is currently available across Malaysia, including in Sabah and Sarawak.
Some may be concerned that childcare in Malaysia might involve different conventions compared to the Netherlands. With this in mind, it may seem like Sitly wouldn’t have the right solutions in place for Malaysian families.
In actuality, however, babysitters and nannies on Sitly are locals who understand the norms and culture in Malaysia. Babysitters listed on Sitly aren’t employees of the platform—they’re simply users.
In fact, Sitly doesn’t even screen sitters or nannies, though it does check for inappropriate texts regularly on its platform.
While that might sound alarming at first, the reason Sitly doesn’t screen or vet users is simply that Sitly is not an agency. Rather, it’s an online marketplace that gives families access to meet babysitters and vice versa.
Of course, the platform does encourage parents to do their due diligence when choosing a nanny or babysitter.
This model is what the Sitly team believes sets their platform apart from others. Specifically, Sitly offers flexibility and freedom for parents and babysitters to plan, review, and determine the price, time, and place according to their respective needs.
This arguably democratises the process of childcare for both the parent as well as the babysitter. Much like in a free market, each party can, at a glance, see the options available to them before mutually agreeing to a partnership.
Selecting the right partner
When signing up for an account on Sitly, parents are prompted to input the number of children they have and what kind of expectations they have.
This includes whether you need after-school care or extra help with chores such as driving children around, cooking, helping with homework, groceries, and more.
Parents are also prompted to select the price range which they’re willing to pay.
“It is up to parents and babysitters to make a selection of what they look for at Sitly,” clarified Nurul Khizrien, Digital PR at Sitly Malaysia.
“We do advise you carefully work on that selection, for example, to ask for references and plan an interview. This way, you’ll get the best picture of a potential babysitter or family.”
The FAQ page on Sitly’s website gives suggestions on how to look for and select the right babysitter. For one, you should make a wishlist and character sketch that’ll help you efficiently look for a babysitter on an online platform (whether theirs or any others).
Once you’ve done your own screening, you can then plan an interview and ask for references, and if you’ve found a nice babysitter, you can set up a trial period.
Other than that, Sitly also gives advice on how to plan an interview and what questions to ask during said interview.
In the scenario where parents or babysitters encounter a problematic situation, they are able to report the user’s Sitly profile.
According to the Sitly team, any user who has been reported will be listed directly in a “quarantine” list. The support team monitors and assesses all quarantine profiles based on set guidelines.
“Scammers and bad experiences such as harassment for both parents and babysitters will be blocked immediately,” Nurul stated.
To further protect users’ safety and privacy, Sitly also encourages conversations to be done via its own platform, which has recently introduced a video chat feature on top of regular messaging.
The price is right
As a meeting and communications channel, Sitly does not charge commissions as agencies would. The fees, which are agreed upon by both parties, will go completely to the babysitter.
With that said, however, Sitly does require parents to sign up for a premium account to start sending messages to babysitters. Users can opt for a free Basic account as well, but Basic users won’t be able to initiate conversations with babysitters at all.
The rate for Premium accounts on Sitly is RM59 for a month, or users can opt for the more valuable RM117 subscription of three months.
The Premium membership will be automatically extended at the end of the membership, with the same period as the initial period they chose. Users can cancel their membership at any time.
Babysitters can also opt to pay for a premium account, which allows them to start conversations with and send unlimited messages to all parents in their area.
“By sending direct messages to the parents they wish to meet, they can better plan their search and selection process by contacting those parents that really meet their needs,” Nurul explained.
In short, it’s a two-way street—both parents and babysitters will need to make a dedicated selection by choosing, for instance, languages spoken, geographical area, requirements, and days and times to babysit.
Premium babysitters can also set video calls to start the first contact keeping their phone number safe, as they will use the platform to plan, confirm, and video call with the parents.
Furthermore, premium users will receive personal support from Sitly agents.
Empowering families and sitters
Scrolling through Sitly, it was surprising to see the plethora of options you could get as a parent in terms of babysitters and nannies in your area.
The care available ranges from well-experienced individuals with professional experience and schooling in related fields, to new sitters who might charge less.
The platform is set up for parents to really decide who to hire based on their own needs and budget.
While some might see having to vet the babysitters and nannies yourself to be a hassle, Sitly arguably empowers parents to personally handpick the person looking after their children themselves, something that perhaps not all platforms would facilitate.
More than that, the sheer volume of babysitters and nannies who have signed up to join Sitly’s ecosystem in Malaysia goes to show that it’s an opportunity for sitters to promote themselves and make an income.
Much like how Uber’s platform business model had changed the taxi landscape all those years ago, Sitly is also a platform innovation, one that has made babysitting much more accessible, both as a service and as a job.
- Learn more about Sitly here.
Featured Image Credit: Sitly