Finding a babysitter that you know and trust can be challenge enough. Even after you’ve found one you love, checking in to confirm last-minute dates is not always that simple. If you don’t receive a response right away, at what point do you follow up again or contact another sitter? Even today, when having access to email or a phone is more commonplace, communication can still be difficult. That’s what inspired Edina parents Paul and Kristen Abdo to create a simplifying solution to the way families and their sitters communicate. In July, the couple released Mimi, the free app for phones and computers that helps connect families to their favorite babysitters.
Since 1999, Abdo has worked for his family’s business, Abdo Market House, which includes the business ventures MyBurger, Nicollet Island Inn and Saguaro. Growing up in an entrepreneurial household, Abdo learned to keep his eyes wide open for new opportunities. It was through this lens that he saw the opportunity to build Mimi.
“I’m more of a big picture type person,” Abdo says. He is in charge of the social media and digital marketing for Abdo Market House and for the Mimi app. After brainstorming the concept with Kristen, Abdo assembled the Mimi team, which includes five partners, all of whom are parents. The app is a collaboration between the team and their wives.
“We work well together,” Kristen Abdo says of working with Paul. “He has the creative mind and I’m the analytical, focused mind.” This is not the first time the Abdos have worked together on a business venture. When Kristen was pregnant with their eldest daughter Lillian (Lillie), the couple decided to start an organic baby product website together. Kristen, a former senior buyer at ShopNBC (now Evine Live), used her buying expertise to buy the website inventory while Paul handled the website’s digital and social media side.
The Mimi app was named after the Abdos’ favorite nanny, Megan. “Mimi” was a family nickname given to her by Lillie. When Megan first started sitting for the family, Lillie called her Mimi because she could not pronounce Megan. That name stuck. The nickname of a beloved and familiar sitter is fitting for the app because Mimi connects families to the sitters they already know, trust and love to hire. The app operates in a private, secure and invite-only network.
Mimi allows parents to reach out to multiple babysitters at once in their network. They can create a babysitting event and prioritize who to notify first about it, or they can send out a group notification that operates on a first come, first served basis: whichever sitter responds first to a proposed babysitting job gets the gig.
The app helps the parents connect with sitters but it also empowers the sitters to be proactive with their own schedules. Sitters can send notifications to families showing their availability to work. There are also other features to the app like a digital payment option, GPS and the ability for parents of babysitters who are minors to be looped in with notifications.
“What we are doing is taking a tried and true, old school analog way of communicating with your sitters and bringing that into a digital world,” Paul Abdo says. Before the app, Kristen’s process for finding a sitter for their three kids was as follows: She would sit at the table with her calendar, decide which sitters would be appropriate for an event, and start down the list, reaching out to the sitters by phone and waiting to hear back. Now, the Mimi app streamlines this process.
“It just minimizes the time that is spent trying to reach out and confirm a babysitter,” Kristen Abdo says. “I like that simplicity.”
To get the app, visit the website here.