Genevieve Thiers

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/03/01/art.thiers.jpg caption=”29-year-old Genevieve Thiers is the founder of sittercity.com.”]
Genevieve Thiers was the oldest of seven kids, which meant she started baby-sitting almost as soon as she was born. But all the diapers, Friday nights in and lousy tips eventually paid off with millions.

In college, Thiers saw a pregnant woman posting fliers around campus for a baby-sitter. It was cheaper than going through an agency, which could cost in the thousands of dollars. After meeting her future husband online, Thiers thought that there had to be a better way. So she started sittercity.com, her real-life version of the “Baby-sitters Club” of young adult fiction.

The site launched in 2001 and has grown beyond connecting parents and sitters to bring together people in search of elder care and pet care with the caregivers of their choice. And now, at 29, Thiers gets to go out on Friday nights!

Update: Watch the CNN.com Live interview

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52 Responses to Genevieve Thiers

  1. Ben says:

    It’s always amazing to hear about ventures that start from mothers. I don’t know how they find the time – especially with a new born.

    Ben
    http://www.topictrove.com

  2. Matt says:

    So….why does she rock?

  3. Angie says:

    @Matt – She rocks because she saw a huge problem (mothers needing to find babysitters who don’t have a lot of money to go through sitting agencies or afterwork/evening daycare facilities) and instead of sitting there and saying, “Boy, this sucks.” she did something about it. People who make things happen instead of sitting around complaining about the world’s problems rock, plain and simple.

    Hope that helps! Cheers!

  4. Jason-Milwaukee says:

    Right on!!! Businesses that grow in a niche like that are very inspirational. Good luck.

    http://www.greenbugz.com
    Recycling Today For A Greener Tomorrow.

  5. Candi says:

    I know Genevieve Theirs and she is an amazing woman. One of the most driven women I’ve ever met in my life. She deserves every bit of success she’s achieved and so much more!

  6. anita says:

    I’m a member of sittercity.com. It’s a great site. You get an email everyday with new jobs in your area. You can see details on the job, where exactly they are, and how much the family is willing to pay. I’ve found more than one great family on the site. As a sitter, you can create a profile with your resume, references, when you’re available and even a picture.I recommend it to everyone who mentions to me that they want to find a babysitting job.

    Way to go Genevieve!

  7. Deb-Overland Park says:

    What a great idea- I wish I would have known about this site sooner! Very reasonable sign up fee. I am going to pass this on to my friends.

  8. Will says:

    I am currently seeking a nanny and am actively using the site. It’s a genius idea. I wish I would have thought of it myself. Other than craigslist (which is a horrible place to seek childcare) there is no other viable online competition for her.

    I am very happy I subscribed. I’ve received 10 decent applicants in less than three weeks. The only decent daycare in my area dosen’t have an opening until June of 2009! Be sure to thank her for providing such a needed service!!!

    Sincerely,

    Will Adams
    Apopka FL

  9. Lutetia says:

    Finding baby-sitters online? That sounds totally legit to me. It’s not like that site will turn into a breeding ground for perverts, or anything.

  10. Alan Isenstadt says:

    Its good to see family on CNN! Just amazing. I wish you much luck and success my cuz.

  11. naijagal says:

    Truly an amazing woman and certainly an inspiration for us all!

    http://naijagal.blogspot.com

    naijagal

  12. Sara Grayce, Cowart says:

    WOW! That is an interesting life and story. Ihope you keep up the good work!

  13. Matt says:

    Starting a business and making money serves your own self interest, it doesn’t mean you rock. It doesn’t matter how wildly successful the business is or how the business might “serve” people in need. Every business provides something that people need but business don’t exist to serve people. They exist to make money, period. We all make money but we do so selfishly. I would never say anyone rocks for making money. To me you rock if you put your life on the line to defend our country overseas. You rock if you work tirelessly serving the poor, the elderly, the sick, the homeless, without asking what’s in it for you. But starting a business? Sorry, that doesn’t mean you rock.

  14. Aderryn says:

    Matt….If you don’t want to read about people that other people find admirable, you can surely find some other blog to post on???

  15. gerald F. says:

    I think she does rock. When an idea takes off the way Genevieve’s has instead relying only on college to get her the big career. Why does she rock? Because Genevieve is successful at filling a very badly need niche in employing others and connecting people and meeting that need. Creating work for others where’s there none is what makes her rock. I don’t know too many twenty and twenty one year olds these days (especially those who are still living with Mommy and Daddy ) who have been this successful. Looking her business up on line. To say Genevieve has been a success creating employment is almost an understatement.

  16. Ida says:

    I am against baby-sitting no one will give the love and care for the child except it mother. I believe the mothers’ should take care of her own child the first five years, Government gives single mothers some benefits to pay a baby-sitting, this is wrong, the government should give this extra money for single and married working women to take care of their infants instead of baby-sitting, mothers’ shouldn’t work untill the children reached five years old, there is no better care mort than mother’s care. I will not trust anybody to watch my children when I am away at work, I think I am the only one in USA didn’t hire a baby-sitting to watch my kids even when I was in the hospital delivering my first child, I refused to give my child to the nurse to take care of him not even one minute. I believe if the mother at home is comfortable and happy to raise its children in a comfortable way.

  17. Matt says:

    Aderryn, sweetheart, I’m sorry that your upset because not everybody agrees with you. If you’re familiar at all with this blog you might realize why I would question if Ms Thiers really fits in. It’s nothing personal, but if you look through the archives you see really deserving people who we should all admire for their selflessness. Web entrepreneurs, even ones who made it big…not so deserving. And no, she has not created any employment by commercializing a service that word of mouth has provided for free since the dawn of humanity.

  18. Elizabeth Grady says:

    Great idea CNN. I work for SCORE, a national non-profit organization that counsels small business owners. You may want to look to SCORE (www.score.org) for some Young People that Rock. I meet young people every day who own businesses and are working on great business ideas.

    And how about the same exposure for entrepreneurs over 50? Again I meet older people every day who are developing great business ideas and who currently own businesses. For example, I have a completely unique business. I professionally writing wedding stories. I have yet to find another similar business of this nature.

  19. Sarah says:

    Ida, forgive me, but you sound a little weird on this subject. Surely you don’t have any objections to a married couple, or a single mom, going out to dinner or a movie in order to keep their connection strong and their marriage happy? You can even put the kids to bed yourself and then the sitter comes when they are already asleep – we do that all the time. I have hired occasional sitters through Sittercity and find them an excellent place to find reasonably priced people to help me and my husband continue to have a relationship in which we talk to one another and affirm our connection.

  20. candace says:

    I used this site last year with my 4 year old son when I got custody of him. Since all of my family is out West I needed to find a babysitter. This site was great!! I found several great girls that I still continue to use as of today!!

    You rock!!

  21. Angie says:

    I confess that after all these years, I still have no clue how sites like these can be called a business, how they work. Everything is “free”. How on earth do they make money?

    I have had lots of ideas like these (not babysitting, but similar), and I see the need, but I never do anything with them as all I can see is that they would cost me a lot of time and some money.

    Nobody is able to tell me how sites like these, work, business-wise.

    I am not particularly dense and have had a small business, largely virtual, for over ten years. But my clients actually pay me for my services..

    Is Genevieve fully supported by her husband so that she can do this for free? And why is it then still called entrepreneurship? Isn’t the point of a business that you make a profit?

    What am I missing here?

  22. Liz says:

    I’m with Sarah … No woman should have to be chained to her house.
    I am a career woman. This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to have children one day, it just means that I want to continue to work and be a productive member of society, who happens to have children.

    Ida, you’re living in the past! Join the rest of the working mothers in the year 2008! [and if you decide not to, I hope that you at least married into wealth … ]

  23. Katie says:

    Angie–Most likely making money from advertising. She’s not doing this for free.

    There are similar sites that focus mostly on Nanny/Aupairs rather than just a day-to-day babysitter. Greataupair.com is one of them; it has been around for years–several years ago I found a “host family” on the site and lived with them for a year, taking care of their kids. You can contact people for free by just sending them a generic message, but to receive email/etc you have to subscribe to the service (either the family or the nanny; in my case the family was interested in me so they paid the fees).

  24. Ann says:

    Liz, I have to completely disagree with you. I actually agree with Sarah in that parents need to have some time-off to date and just have “alone” time. But I’m a stay-at-home-mom and I consider myself a productive member of society. I’m raising the next generation of leaders and “productive members of society.” To me, there is no more important job than this.

    And while I understand that some women have to work (and even choose to work) when they have kids, I certainly hope that they don’t consider their “paid” jobs more important than their “mom” jobs. I hope that most working moms don’t consider themselves “productive members of society who happen to have children.” If I worked I would consider myself a “mom who happened to have another job outside of the home.” Hopefully there aren’t too many women with your attitude bringing children into this world. Personally, I consider more women working as one of the top reasons this society is getting worse and worse. If more women could stay home to raise their children, I believe it would lead to less violence and less problems that we see in the youth of today. (BTW, all of this goes for dads too. They need to be just as involved in their childrens’ lives.)

  25. Rick Viray says:

    This webite can be very lucrative. Moreover, help many mothers and family save money. Child Care is out of control. I just hope there is protection from lawsuits that may occur if something goes wrong during babysitting.

    Rick

  26. Adrienne says:

    How come that baby in the picture doesn’t look so happy, then?

  27. DR says:

    Angie:

    If Genevieve’s business works like any other service business of her type, her profits are probably realized through the babysitters’ fees. In other words, the service is supposedly “free” to use, but I imagine that a percent of the individual babysitter’s fees go back to Genevieve. It is a common business model. Parents are still ultimately paying for this service, but as someone who has had difficulty in finding reliable babysitting services, I would use her type of service in a minute (with a little bit of background check/research of course).

    As for becoming an entrepreneur: it does cost time and money – but success is almost always born out of hard work and in most cases, a little bit of risk. I think Genevieve is a fine example of someone who did both…and it paid off.

    As for the others dissing her success…I imagine that if she was on government assistance you would be dissing her too!

  28. Megan says:

    Ida-
    What planet are you from? Moms need to work sometimes. Not just for their own sanity, but for the good of their family. I was single mom. Getting a job and supporting myself and my son was an amazingly liberating feeling-even if my income was modest. I would not have felt empowered living completely off the government-I would have felt patronized.
    Now that I am married and have two children, I still work. If I took myself out of the workforce, even for a few years, I would senority, status, and pay. I love being a mom. I love sending my well adjusted, socially capable kids to day care. I love working and helping to support my family!

  29. Desiree says:

    I am a babysitter on this site. It’s fabulous! For “caregivers,” as they call them, registering is free. For parents, there is a fee. I think if you sign up for a year, it comes out to like $2.00 a month. Not too bad though, right? The site is extremely thorough too. I would highly suggest it to anyone.

  30. Genevieve R. says:

    I went to college with Genevieve, and have to say that she a kind, smart, funny person who has really done something amazing in starting this business. I think sittercity.com is a great idea and I’m happy to know that a fellow alum has become so succcessful (a write up on CNN.com? Awesome!). Congrats on everything, Genevieve!

  31. Janell says:

    Yes, we should all just quit our jobs because no one can take of our kids better than we can. We can go back to old times and just build our own houses with our own hands, and hunt for our food all day so we can spend every waking minute with our kids or else they will grow up to be horrible people. Ummm…no! With all the head-way women have made in society, it’s really upsetting to hear a woman talk about how more women working in the world is the reason why kids are so messed up. Move to a different country if you have those kinds of ideas because that’s ridiculous!!! People helping out other people is good for this world. We should have more sites like this that bring people together. As for kids that grow up and blame their problems on mom and dad because they worked their rear-ends off to provide them a decent life….I have no sympathy. Some people are messed up, that’s just life!!

  32. Jamie says:

    This is a great idea, I dont like the fact that you have to pay to view the sitters profile though. You should be able to view all their information, if you like what you see, pay a fee to contact them.

  33. Mary says:

    Ida, you do realize that when your child starts going to school, he or she is going to experience some serious separation anxiety and develop other emotional issues?

    What you have described is not a healthy way to raise a child. I can understand why you would want to not work, stay home, and take care of your children for their first 5 years. However, children need to learn early on that Mom or Dad isn’t always going to be there 24/7. The moment you drop off your child at kindergarten on their first day, he or she is not going to be able to handle the fact that Mom (whom they have seen EVERY waking minute of their lives) is suddenly gone. They will suffer separation anxiety much worse than other children.

    True, no one can take care of a child better than his or her mother. But mothers need to have lives too. That’s what baby-sitters are for. Not letting your child out of your sight ever is sure to do more harm than leaving them with a capable child-carer for just a few hours on occasion.

    In addition, baby-sitting is an excellent way for young people to learn how to care for a baby or a young child, in preparation for having their own children someday. It helps to ensure that later generations of mothers will have at least some idea of how to take care of their newborns properly.

  34. Olga says:

    Ida, Ann and all,
    I am a stay at home Mom. I wish that I was able to work at least part time. Staying at home with kids all the time is like killing your sanity. My daughter asked me one day “Why do you stay home”and dad goes to work?” She said that when she grows up, she wants to stay home as well. I am setting a bad example for her, If I want my kids to be independent, to have good careers, to be able to be productive, then I should have been productive my self. I am glad I am able to stay at home, but I wish that I had a part time job. Problems in the society are a result of many problems. “Working Moms” can’t be blamed.

  35. Elizabeth W. says:

    I was one of the of the early moms to sign up for this service and use it in the Boston area. It has been great! I have found terrific sitters who have worked for our family for many years. It is a great resource that I have shared with many other moms. I congratulate Genevieve on seeing a need and being a great entrepreneur.

  36. Bee says:

    I am a mom, have used friends as babysitters and totally understand Ida’s viewpoint. We are all comfortable with something to some extent. So chill out folks. I know plenty of people who are parents and do not use babysitters and are comfortable with that.
    And unless you are a parent, you can’t relate to that feeling of putting your kid in someone else’s hands.
    I only used v. close friends. I’ve never hired a stranger to babysit for me. I can’t say I put my trust in anyone online. I sure hope there is plenty of background checking and rechecking.
    And I totally get the fact that sometimes, when you have no family and single parent or live in a new place, you have to look for such services. I don’t know if I would use this service, but I am sure other people are comfortable and that’s fine too.
    Just too many freaks out there anymore. And your child is counting on you to give him or her to some. So I get Ida and others, both.

  37. Ann says:

    Janell,
    I didn’t blame the problems of society on working parents. But maybe if people spent less time at the office and more time invested in their children (not just providing for their financial needs), maybe this world would be a better place. It’s people like you who take the sanctity out of the home.

    Mary,
    Just because someone stays home with their children for the first 5 years of their life (or longer), it doesn’t mean that child will automatically have social anxiety. Being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t mean you stay home all day. There are ways to socialize your children other than sending them to daycare for 9 hours a day. I’m not saying I agree with everything Ida said, but I totally believe that sending your kids to daycare all day is NOT good for them. Maybe not completely detrimental, but also not beneficial in every way. I side with Bee, when I need a date, I call someone I trust, I don’t do an internet search.

    Olga,
    I truly feel sorry for you. For the fact that you think you are setting a bad example for your daughter. There is nothing more important you could be doing in this world than being her mother. And yet you want her to believe there is. Funny that she gets it and you don’t. It’s also sad that you don’t consider raising a family “being productive.” I don’t see anything else in this world that’s more productive than raising good children to become good people. You don’t have to have a paid job to do that. I agree that “working moms” can’t be blamed for the problems with society. But the disintegration of the family can be blamed.

  38. Angie says:

    DR:

    Thanks for your feedback. Yes, I figured that somehow she must be taking a percentage of the fees. I then later saw another post (probably by someone who uses the site) and that did mention a small fee.

    Still, there are many sites out there in which no money appears to be involved at all and I figure that the main value lies in the value they represent to market researchers, whatever they are willing to pay for that (and the profit is made when the site is then later sold). I have also noticed that those sites are often started by people who apparently don’t need to make a living (yet), who just set up a site for the fun of it.

    I think it’s wonderful that there are many actually quite simple ideas out there that I am sure many people have had but just did not follow through or did not approach the right way somehow – and then someone does and it takes off.

    I am a tremendous admirer of what is probably a combination of “good”, “smart”, “skills” and “guts” (guts to get it started, in contrast with the many people – in general, I mean – who watch from the sidelines and do little more than criticize others). Oh, and integrity of course.

    In summary: Way to go!

  39. Kristin Ehrecke says:

    I think Sittercity is a wonderful idea and I find it encouraging that you have proved great things can happen when you act on an idea.

    What would you recommend to someone who has various ideas and wants to follow-through and make them into realities?

  40. DR says:

    Whew! How did this thread turn into the mommy wars! The two extremes of working outside the home vs. staying home are always going to be there….but most of us are somewhere in the middle…trying our best with the tools available to us to raise responsible, caring and intelligent children. I work outside the home, but have family and friends who are stay-at-home parents, and all of us, at one time or another, need a little break…especially with our partner or to do something as simple as getting a hair cut.

    Our society has changed significantly over the last century in that many of us do not live around our own parents or extended families anymore. I remember staying with my grandparents for the weekend when I was little so my parents could have some time to themselves. Mom and Dad often employed outside babysitters and for us it meant staying up later and having something special like pizza for dinner! My own parents and sibling now live hours away, so we can’t rely on them for little breaks or even in the event of work emergencies or civic duties like jury duty. Babysitting is a valuable service. It was the first job that I ever had and it allowed me to start a savings account and to not rely on my parents for cash if I wanted to buy something that interested me. In my opinion, everyone wins.

  41. Cindy says:

    You go woman! I have thought about this same thing in my area. I live outside of Aspen. Could you give me any pointers on how to begin? What about insurance? Would you like to expand to this area? I have a 21 yr old son and more free time. Maybe this would be a new adventure. I have always loved children and took special education in college and was a nanny in South Carolina. Way to go. Congratulations!

  42. Angie says:

    As the 1st “Angie” who posted I still say she rocks. Yes, it’s a business but I don’t think CNN is saying she rocks for making money. She rocks for improving the quality of life for the parents and sitters who use the site by easily linking them together.

  43. Kim K. says:

    I’ve known Genevieve for over 10 years, and believe me, she more than rocks. Someone earlier (Matt) commented that she doesn’t rock cause she’s just trying to make a buck, and I have to say that I totally disagree. We live in a society that uses money for the exchange of goods and services- even military personnel get paid, and people who volunteer their time selflessly (if you can argue that the satisfaction they receive isn’t the seeking of a reward- your argument is flawed in that sense, Matt) have money from some source to be able to give so generously to others. Even religious service people who take a vow of poverty rely on the support of their community. By the way, although the segment doesn’t mention it, Genevieve happens to be quite a philanthropist and is a great supporter of the arts- she is a professionally trained opera singer and runs an opera company on the side if you can believe that.

    Angie, I’m with you girl. She rocks because she created something out of nothing to fill a real need. She has guts and vision, and I can tell you first-hand she works harder than most anyone I know. She doesn’t do it to just “get rich”- she does it because she is the kind of person who is always striving towards improvement and the “best solution”. This attitude makes her not only a rocking entrepreneur, opera singer, and civic member- it makes her a rocking friend. The world could use more people like Genevieve Thiers.

    We can all learn something from each other… I highly doubt Matt has much experience trying to find a sitter or has even looked at sittercity’s website. His inherently flawed statement of, “she has not created any employment by commercializing a service that word of mouth has provided for free since the dawn of humanity”, teaches me that no matter what you do, you can’t make everyone happy.

  44. Jason says:

    Why does Genevieve rock ?

    Because she can dock a 34ft SeaRay in 15 Knot+ winds.🙂.

    Should be promoted to one of the 100 things on the list.

  45. Mary says:

    Ann, I think you misunderstood about what I wrote. Reading comprehension is key. I suggest you read over my initial comment again.

    I don’t have a problem with stay-at-home moms at all. When I get married and have children someday, I (or my husband) am planning on staying at home for at least the first few years to ensure my child gets the proper care he or she needs.

    What do have a problem is with Ida’s statement: “I am against babysitting.” She clearly believes that her child should not be left out of her sight EVER. She trusts no one. This is not healthy behavior, for both her and her child.

    What is worse is that she thinks that the government should pay mothers to stay at home to take care of their babies. I’m sorry, but this is NOT where I want my tax dollars to go to. No one is forcing you to stay at home, ball-and-chained to your child.

  46. Ben says:

    @Matt…. Great comments. Selflessness is the virute that w should look up to.

  47. Restonian says:

    Separation anxiety is not the same as social anxiety. Separation anxiety occurs when a child only spends time with his or her primary caregiver or caregivers and never stays with anyone else. My daughter has a terrible case of it and cannot get used to me leaving her at the gym for half an hour so I can work out, no matter how many times I have tried staying there with her to get her acclimated. However, she has done okay with a sitter in our home, while I am in the home, so I can work part-time. Sittercity is a great service for those of us who don’t have family or friends who can babysit, but for $85 a year I would have expected it to be much easier to find someone. Most of the site’s sitters in our area want full-time nanny jobs or evenings and weekends only.

  48. Jessica says:

    I think this is a great way to help out! There are a lot of single parents who really needed this.

  49. Amber Ibbotson says:

    I know how you feel when your dad died. Are you friend’s with the girl that her mom died of breast cancer.

  50. CelinnaMcCray says:

    i am one of those kids who rock i help out at nursing homes and i do comunity work in my neighborhood to help elders in need of help from youngsters like me.i also do lawns and rake and give money to the poor and in need i hope you will make this shout out over your show thank you,celinna from palm harbor florida

  51. CelinnaMcCray says:

    i am very sorry for your dad and hope you recover from his death you are very strong and full of care send my thoughts to him and care to him.

  52. Darryl Hill says:

    That is a great success story. May I ad your link to my site?
    http://www.culturallycool.com

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