How a pivot helped HopSkipDrive emerge successful in a sector where many failed

Joanna McFarland got 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 was sparked at a birthday party she attended with one of her children. The topic of moving kids around came up and every mom there had their own story of a situation where they felt they had to let their child down because they had no way to get them to whatever the destination was.

McFarland launched HopSkipDrive with Carolyn Yashari Becher and Janelle McGlothlin — the three have eight kids among them — as a way to try to safely tackle this issue by hiring safe third-party drivers to get their kids around.

HopSkipDrive didn’t know at the time that it was entering a space where there would soon be quite a few startups raising venture capital to try to tackle the problem, too. Newton, Massachusetts-based Sheprd looked to solve the problem by carting kiddos around in tricked-out Land Rovers equipped with snacks and iPads. Los Angeles-based Shuddle looked to be more of an Uber for kids by offering on-demand rides.

Many of those startups have since gone out of business. HopSkipDrive hasn’t. Why? Because an early pivot away from just focusing on parents as the sole customers opened up a new revenue stream and set the company up to progress past many of the companies that failed.

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