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Driven & Co. Ep: 28 – From Startup to Stay-At-Home Dad to CEO

Anand Iyer, Founder and CEO of Trusted, talks with host Justin Gray about pausing his career to spend time as a stay-at-home dad, finding the perfect co-founder to launch a startup and bringing trusted childcare into new markets across America – all on this episode of Driven & Co.

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What’s your elevator pitch for Trusted?

Trusted is like a managed marketplace for childcare. It’s a great way for parents to find highly qualified veteran caregivers and for caregivers to find quality work and great, vetted families to work with.

We like to think of ourselves as full stack childcare. The matchmaking between families and caregivers is critical, but at the same time there’s so many things that happen after you’ve found someone. That includes, if it’s a great match, ensuring that over time the caregiver knows how to adapt to the child. A three-month-old is very different from a six-month-old to a year old to two years old. Their milestones change, so we spend a lot of our time working to ensure that the caregiver is up to speed with these various different milestones that a child hits.

What does an average day look like for you at Trusted?

If it’s the beginning of the week, I’m spending most of my time looking at the data and analyzing patterns. Also toward the beginning of the week, my time leans toward product management, product development, product engineering, which is my passion and forte. I’d say through the latter half of the week, I spend more time with my co-founder in operations and some nitty-gritty. Product development is one of our strengths, but really sourcing … bringing onboard training and up-leveling our caregiver base is probably one of the most important things we do here. We spend a lot of time on that.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a bus driver (our school bus driver seemed like the happiest guy!). Then my fascination turned toward airplanes and flying, flight simulation games and software. That was really what I wanted to be, and as I got more fascinated with the concept of engineering and physics, I really wanted to be an aeronautical engineer. This was the mid-’90s and I think it was Windows 95 had just come out. That opened up my eyes to this whole other world of computers and connected computers. The third avatar of what I wanted to be ended up becoming a computer engineer and that’s what I pursued through school.

After a career working at companies like Microsoft and Cisco, you became a stay-at-home dad. What was it like hit pause like that?

Honestly, it was pretty easy to make that decision. What led to that was some of the problems that my wife and I had finding childcare. As a working couple living in a big city with very little family nearby, it became a challenge. We had a couple of bad experiences, which was totally eye-opening. I was working at another startup and I felt like I was very disconnected from what was really happening at home, which was doing my wife a huge disservice. I realized my daughter’s only going to be six months once in her life and there’s a huge opportunity for me to bond with her and spend more time with her.

What made you decide to solve this problem of childcare for other people?

I was spending a lot of time with my daughter at playgrounds and museums, which meant I was also spending a lot of time with caregivers as well. I learned a lot about the caregiver’s perspective on this marketplace and their motivations. My thought process was, “Wow, there’s this person who’s going to be spending so much time with my daughter,” whether it’s an at-home or classroom environment. I wondered, how do they really think about their jobs? How can we ensure that they feel happy doing what they do? I also had experience having done another marketplace company where I learned the vernacular about how to run a marketplace startup and all the metrics you look for to gauge success. I felt like this idea was staring us in the face. It was and continues to be an extremely difficult thing to build, but it just needed to be done.

How do you guys find the right markets for Trusted and the most qualified caregivers?

We started in the Bay Area, launched in the New York market and we’ve been in soft launch mode in the LA area, which we’ll probably formalize in the early part of next year. We look at each market as having its own huge opportunities. Obviously, every market’s got its own dynamics to consider. For example, one of the variables that we control in a given market is how soon a caregiver can come to a home to be with your child. In the Bay Area, that number is two hours. In New York it’s the same. But in another market, like LA or Seattle or Denver, we feel that number could be very different. Had we not created those variables up front, it would’ve been really difficult for us to launch a new market because of how closely we managed the market. We have to figure those things out before we launch new markets.

As far as sourcing talent goes, we have our core team and we have our network of caregivers. For the caregivers, we’ve always leaned on students, early childhood education majors or child psychology majors and we continue to work with that talent pool. They have their own sororities that we lean into, their job boards, their school job boards that we’ve been trying to leverage to try to grow the network as much as possible.

To find out more about Anand Iyer and his journey to becoming an entrepreneur, including milestones and obstacles the Trusted marketplace has faced, click here to listen to the entire episode. Plus, visit usetrusted.com and find Anand on LinkedIn.

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