An Interview with Marie Maher of Lullaby Sitters

In this week’s Arck Spotlight, we interview Marie Maher, founder and owner of Lullaby Sitters LLC. Lullaby Sitters is a child care services startup that’s focused on connecting parents to sitters with “speed dating” events where parents meet a large number of sittings in a single event. Arck Interactive is acting as Lullaby Sitters technology partner and building out custom web and mobile platforms to supplement their in-person events and help parents connect with and book sitters. The service has recently launched in Indianapolis, IN and plans to roll-out in other cities in the next year.

  1. Tell us about your company and your role there.

I am the founder/owner of Lullaby Sitters LLC. We are an online networking community for parents and sitters. We help connect parents and sitters in the Indianapolis area via online and in person. We do so by hosting Speed Sitting events, think speed dating but for a sitter. We also offer expanded background checks to help during the decision making process.

  1. Could you tell us more about your site and its origins?

We just felt that there had to be an easier way to connect parents with childcare. The process can be a long one and we feel we have found a way to streamline decision making. We created a site that offers families and childcare providers the tools needed to make a connection, no extra functions that can seem overwhelming.

  1. What problems or challenges does your site attempt to solve?

Our site is very user friendly and simple. We only focus on connecting parents and sitters, no other services. Everything is pretty straightforward. Trying to find someone you trust to care for your child is stressful enough, and trying to find a job as a source of income can be time consuming. It takes just a few minutes to register and have a profile, you can begin your search right away.

  1. How has technology, and custom development in particular, allowed you to solve these problems or challenges?

We tried various pre made plugins for our site, but they just had extra functions that we didn’t need or we needed to add functions, and extra coding can bog down the site. Custom development allowed us to really customize the user experience. You have such a short amount of time to gain your customer base online. If the sign up process isn’t easy, they will leave your site. The customization of Lullaby’s site allows us to better retain our new users. Registration and user flow are now seamless.

  1. How would you describe your site’s members? Who are they and why are they coming to your site?

We have 2 user groups. Parents: Generally, in later 20s to early 40s looking for occasional or long term childcare. Sitters: Generally, in early 20s, usually college students, looking for extra income with a flexible schedule.

  1. What are a few major success stories?

We’ve been approached by a few local and 2 large businesses to help host our Speed Sitting events. We are starting to get recognized within the community as a resource for finding and connecting with childcare options.

Also, the site and our mission to make the connection process easier, works. We’ve gotten feedback from numerous families and sitters that they have found great connections and are very happy with the process.

  1. What do your members describe as the most important parts or features of your site?

Ease of the sign up process and ease of searching other profiles. With the site now geo coded, matches that are closer in proximity will appear first. That has really helped eliminate candidates that may not be worth contacting.

  1. How do you measure success?

By the amount of connections that are made via the site. When families and caregivers are connecting, then I know the site is working. Our user’s feedback has been vital in deciding what the user experience should look like. When connections are being made, then I know we’re doing something right.

  1. What’s on the horizon in the next year?

A mobile app and launching in other cities.

  1. Tell us a little bit about your hobbies and life outside of work.

I have 2 children ages 1 1/2 and 3, so they keep me pretty busy. We try to stay active as a family by going to parks, traveling, or braving a restaurant with two toddlers. I also love to cook, workout, and network. I’m pretty involved in my mom’s group (theCityMoms) and am also a part of a local entrepreneurial community (The Speakeasy). I truly enjoy meeting new people and collaborating with other business owners.

  1. Anything else you want to add?

I have been working on Lullaby for over 3 years. Finding the right people to work with has been the hardest part of this journey. You can’t build a business alone, but you also can’t do it with the wrong people. Working with Arck has allowed me to no longer worry about the functionality of the site. Together, we’ve created a site that is easy for users to navigate and also solve the problem of searching for childcare. Now I am able to focus on sales and marketing, and these are much more my strong suit. I feel confident we can expand Lullaby to other cities and truly become a resource for both parents and sitters.

 

Read more about the Lullaby Sitters platform on our case study.

 

An Interview with Garret Armes of Nurses Lounge

This week’s Q&A is with Garret Armes, co-founder of Nurses Lounge, a professional network for nurses. Nurses Lounge’s mission is to connect every nursing school, association, employer, and over 1,000,000 nurses in the Nurses Lounge.

How many users / nursing organizations are active on Nurses Lounge?

Active users: approx. 18,000 Active orgs: approx. 120

How would you describe your members?

Members range from nursing students, doctorate students, faculty members, chief nursing officers, nurse recruiters and any professional involved in nursing. Our members are professional and career-oriented looking to connect with other nursing professionals and organizations that can help advance their careers.

Who are the most active organizations & members on Nurses Lounge? How are they using your site?

Being an organization-centric network I would say our most active ones are nursing schools such as San Francisco State University, Frontier Nursing University, Duquesne University, Utah Valley University. Some associations include NADONA/LTC, Dermatology Nurses Association, Clinical Nurse Leaders.

What are the most important problems that Nurses Lounge solves?

Nurse Stakeholder organizations lack resources and time to efficiently communicate to the broader nursing profession. By connecting the profession on a single, connected network organization can easily disseminate their news, education, jobs, etc to targeted nurses based on their location, education level, and nursing specialty.

What are a few major success stories?

NADONA/LTC is a large national nursing organization with chapters in almost every state. Instead of spending the time and money on a website with individual pages for each chapter, they decided to use the Nurses Lounge as the most efficient way to connect their organization. We created a Lounge page for each chapter and each chapter president is the admin. The chapters are all tied together and linked to the main national chapter. Now the organization is all tied together and each chapter can easily share meeting news and information with their members.

What’s on the horizon in the next year?

We’re currently making a big push for nurse employers to come on to the network. Our goal is to have over 10k nursing jobs by the end of the summer making us the largest hospital and healthcare facility job board. Hopefully the increase in jobs will increase the number of nurses signing up and in return increase membership.

Solr Lucene Presentation at ElggCamp Italy

ElggCamp Italy is just a few short weeks away.  Our very own Matt Beckett is going to be there and giving a presentation on Elgg Search Scalability and Solr integration.  It will go over the history of Elgg search, currently pros/cons of the bundled search plugin.  There will be some case studies showcasing our work with Solr and the problems that we have solved using it, as well as a good old deep dive into the code to show how to work with the plugin to extend it to your projects needs.

In order to get ready for this we have released a new version of the plugin for Elgg 2.0.  This version fixes a few bugs as well as a library loading regression issue from Elgg 2.1 and does a bit of code cleanup.  This version is a break from previous versions in that it is no longer back compatible to Elgg 1.8.  As much as we wanted to keep things as BC as possible, there comes a time where the maintenance burden simply outweighs the gains.

The presentation should be recorded, so we’ll post that video here when it becomes available.

The Elgg Solr plugin is available now on the Elgg Community site, github, or packagist.