You have to hand it to Wharton student, entrepreneur and mama Divinity Matovu: Her app, Watotolly is a really cool idea. What it does, in a nutshell, is offer parents who use the app a low-cost, time-saving solution for finding sitters in the form of other parents in the user’s community. In short, a user can meet other parents and exchange babysitting services, thus saving a little cash while (hopefully) connecting to other moms and dads. You can — and should! — watch the explanation of the whole thing here, on the site.
A little background here: Divinity (pictured above!), who moved from Los Angeles to Philly to attend Wharton a couple years back, struggled (as many of us do) with finding and affording childcare for her daughter, especially in a new city where she couldn’t rely on friends or family. She recalled the time she spent in East Africa, where she lived and worked for four years as the director of a youth development nonprofit. There, she says, a more communal approach to childcare didn’t just help parents take care of their kids, it bonded the community together, as well. Thus the idea for Watotolly was born (she is a Wharton entrepreneur, after all): Watoto is “children” in East Africa. “Watotolly is creating the modern village, drawing on the spirit of the ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ philosophy,” Divinity writes on her site.
So. What does this mean for you? At this moment, the app is still in beta testing, with its only users being Penn-affiliated parents. But parents who are interested now can sign up for the waitlist as the app expands in coming weeks into more areas, growing outward around the city.
The cost to access the app will be $10 a month, and will allow users to book babysitting from other Watotolly users in your community. Every single user goes through a professional background check, and answers a series of questions (Are there pets in the house? Guns? Smokers?). Once you are accepted as a user, you will be able to see the profiles of other parents within your community who have children within your child’s age range — and those communities are arranged using connections you already have, so perhaps these are people in your neighborhood, or in your office, or at your child’s school. Chances are good that you already know some of the parents in your network, but if not, parents can arrange to meet in person before any babysitting happens.
So. Sounds intriguing, no? To have an app that can ease the way for a whole new network of convenient childcare options (options that involve other parents) that don’t cost a fortune? Like we said … a very cool idea.