We had the good fortune of connecting with Sara Schaer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sara, how does your business help the community?
Kango strives to help families take the stress out of the challenge that many parents face: finding a way to manage family schedules while fulfilling work and other obligations and keeping kids safe. Kango simplifies the logistics for busy parents by offering a ride-sharing app with optional childcare services and a recently launched grocery home-delivery service. We provide transportation services for schools, athletics, and aftercare programs as well, including for at-risk or special needs youth. Kango realizes that the modern parent has had to take on more responsibility during the pandemic, and has adapted to fulfill their changing needs during this unprecedented time.
What should our readers know about your business?
Kango is a transportation and childcare service that helps families and schools safely get children where they need to go – with heart. It’s really a childcare-on-wheels concept rather than “Uber for kids,” though we also offer the convenience of booking, location tracking, and communicating via a mobile app.
What sets us apart is that we truly care for your children as if they were our own, and parents know they can count on us. It’s a business, yet at our core, we become an integral part of a family and a school’s daily lives and logistics. This creates a bond between drivers, kids, parents, and our customer service and operations team.
As founders who are parents ourselves, we’ve always been mission-driven, and I think people can feel that through their interactions with us.
In times like this when not only road safety but also health safety have become significant risks in the community, we’re most proud of our stellar safety record, and of the fact that customers continue to trust us with their most precious cargo.
That’s what I would want the world to know: at Kango we’re here for you by your side, in the good times but also in times of hardship.
The idea for the service started with a personal pain point: as a working mother of two young children who needed to get to preschool and back twice a day, with a spouse who worked an hour from our home, I simply couldn’t make the logistics work without help. Having tried traditional childcare services, I realized that kids’ transportation presented specific hurdles to overcome and that smartphones could help people get over those hurdles. That’s how Kango was born.
We built an app prototype that initially focused on peer-to-peer carpools between parents, but we quickly found that what parents really valued was to be able to find safe, trustworthy, reliable drivers for their children. That’s what became our paid business model – safe rides for kids, by providers sourced and vetted by Kango, with childcare available if needed.
Attracting investment early on was a challenge, as no one knew whether parents would place their trust in such a service, or whether it would grow. It took time to build enough traction to prove the concept was viable, and more time to build a product whose economics could put us on a path to profitability. It was only at that point that our Series A financing round became possible. Since launch, we have always chosen to follow a trajectory of responsible growth rather than breakneck speed. It shows in our safety record, but not all investors agreed with it.
In terms of lessons learned, I would say to have confidence in yourself and stay true to your mission and your values. Don’t take rejection or disagreement personally, but find how to extract learnings from feedback and criticism. If you have chosen a mission that you care deeply and personally about, this will make everything easier and will carry you through the tough times.
Be an optimist, and believe!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If you’re looking to visit LA post-pandemic, one of the best kid-friendly spots that is also rewarding for grownups, is the Griffith Observatory. It’s simply stunning to take in the LA views, especially at night – a must-do for all who visit the area! Also, Sonoratown is a delicious restaurant where you can grab a bite to eat. The menu is kid-friendly which is essential! And of course, Disneyland is a must-see attraction. It’s classic fun for the kids but also for the adults! Lastly, for a night out with the girls, Spare Room is a beautiful bar with tasty drinks that never disappoints!
** Important note: These recommendations are based on our experiences prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. We recommend that families only frequent establishments, activities, and parks which are operating in accordance with local Department of Public Health and CDC guidelines for health and safety.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Kango would perhaps not exist today if it hadn’t been for the early vote of confidence from 500 Startups, and our champion there at the time, Parker Thompson (who went on to become a partner at AngelList and TNT Ventures). In 2014, 500 was among the few early-stage funds investing in first-time founders and female founders. They also understood and recognized the opportunity which lay in technologies and services built for parents and families as a demographic. My co-founder and I benefited immensely from the “tough love” we received during and after the accelerator program, as well as the ongoing support and advice of our mentors there including 500 Startups CEO, Christine Tsai.