Citybizlist Interviews Sheila Marcelo, CEO, Care.com

Waltham-based Care.com, an information resource for caregivers and pet owners, announced last month that it will offer its services in the UK.

Founded in 2006 by CEO Sheila Lirio Marcelo, the company has raised more than $61 million from LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and others, had more than one million care providers register on its U.S. site, and boasts about 6 million visits every month.

On its website, Care.com says it "addresses the unique lifecycle of care needs that each family goes through - child care, special needs care, tutoring and lessons, pet care, housekeeping and more. To help ensure safety both online and at home, Care.com provides prescreened profiles, monitored messaging, access to background checks, recorded references, and educational information on the interviewing process."

The company grew out of Mrs. Marcelo's own experience, when her family was in desperate need of a caregiver. By sheer serendipity she found an excellent nanny, but began to envision a service that would provide an easier path to finding reliable care.

The Mt. Holyoke grad, who also holds an M.B.A. and a J.D. from Harvard University, received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2010 for New England and in 2012 was named one of the 10 Most Powerful Women in Boston Tech by The Boston Globe's Innovation Economy.

Citybizlist caught up with Mrs. Marcelo recently and asked her about her new European venture.

1. How long was the UK expansion in the works?

Care.com has spent a long time preparing for a UK launch and it's a huge milestone for the company. The UK is an important market. It's the gateway into Europe and has the potential to be the second largest English speaking market for Care.com after the U.S. There are more than 17 million families in the UK, and more than 60 percent of mothers work outside the home. As such, there are a number of families searching for the right care - something we know is a universal issue.

2. What is your typical subscription price? How does that compare with competitors in your space?

There are a number of companies both in the U.S. and the UK who offer one element of our platform, for example, that offer babysitting services or pet care services. However, what makes Care.com unique is the breadth of the offering, including childcare, special needs care, elderly care, pet care and home care. Our aim at Care.com is to connect families to the right providers, no matter what they are looking for.

Care.com offers two levels of membership: basic and premium. The basic level is free and members may view and post jobs, as well as have access to newsletters full of expert tips and advice. Premium members also enjoy these services, plus the ability to view contact details, background checks and references of members. In the U.S. our pricing is competitive with premium memberships at $35/month. Through June 1st, access to Care.com UK is free.

3. Do you envision moving beyond being an information resource, to recruiting and providing caregivers, or forming a partnership with a company that does?

Care.com's mission is to make the process of finding care easier. Finding care online is a part of how families manage many of their needs - from finances to travel and beyond. We are always adding tools to make efficient matches and provide access to new resources and information.

4. We understand that you have received $61 million in financial backing from LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and others. Can you name some of the other investors?

Care.com's institutional investors include Matrix Partners, Trinity Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, and USAA.

5. On your website, all the listed experts are female. Don't males have any expertise in this area?

Of course, but historically, it has been women who have played the primary caregiving role and as a result, experts in the fields of child care and senior care currently tend to be predominantly female.

6. Do you plan on taking Care.com public? What threshold would you have to reach before considering an IPO?

We are always mindful of other expansion opportunities and will take the path that makes sense to our shareholders, employees and our growing number of customers.

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