How a Pivot Helped HopSkipDrive Succeed in an Industry Where Many Have Failed

Joanna McFarland got the idea for HopSkipDrive in 2014 because she needed a solution to a problem that many working parents like her face: how do you consistently get your kids where they need to be on time?

The idea was born at a birthday party she attended with one of her children. The topic of moving children came up and each mother had her own story of a situation where she felt she had to let her child down because she had no way to get her to her destination.

Launch of McFarland HopSkipDrive with Carolyn Yashari Becher and Janelle McGlothlin – the three have eight children among them – as a way to try to solve this problem safely by hiring safe third-party drivers to move their children.

Little did HopSkipDrive 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 solve the problem as well. Sheprd, based in Newton, Mass., sought to solve the problem by transporting children in tricked-out Land Rovers equipped with snacks and iPads. Los Angeles-based Shuddle seemed to be more of an Uber for kids by offering on-demand rides.

Many of these startups have since gone out of business. HopSkipDrive does not. Why? Because an early pivot that moved away from just focusing on parents as the only customers opened up a new revenue stream and allowed the company to leapfrog many failed businesses.


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