Anna is a co-founder of SitEinander, an impact startup from the first cohort of Maze X
Can you tell us who is Anna and a little bit about your background?
After high school, I studied Early Childhood Education, and I worked for a year in a kindergarten. After some time, I realized I wanted to do something different. I went one year to Canada, where I worked in a babysitter agency, in the management team, and as a full-time nanny. When I came back, I started to study International Business with a focus on entrepreneurship and management. I kept the connection with childcare and families, because I worked in a babysitting agency, in marketing and management at the same time.
At university, when it came to creating our first business idea, I had the idea of having my babysitting agency but with Henni and Ulli, my sisters. We thought of specializing in ex-pat and English-speaking families but quickly noticed that we were only reaching a small group that could afford it, leaving out our friends’ families that also needed it. Even my sister, Ulli, a single mother at 20 yo herself, couldn’t afford it. We wanted to tackle this problem. In Canada, there are babysitting clubs, churches where communities come together. They support one another and exchange coins or coupons in return. I picked up on this concept, applied it to babysitting and did my business plan on university about it as a digital product. That was the first time I created the idea for SitEinander on a paper and won an award for it. Then we won a scholarship that funded our first pilot project for six months. We didn’t have any technical person. So, we brought ~60 families together through WhatsApp groups and tested if the parents were interested.
Henrike-Marie and Anna-Lena Gerber, sisters and co-founders of SitEinander.
What is SitEinander?
SiTeinander it is a German word combination that means ‘sit together’, so babysitting and sit together. We have more than 3.500 users in Germany, in Austria and some in Switzerland. Today, we are launching the new design for Android and, in a few days, finally for IOS. This year, we got another scholarship that will allow us to finally hire a developer agency in Poland.
Why does SitEinander matter? Why is it necessary?
Every family needs support and childcare. These days, they need it even more since family structures are changing. Families are smaller and more scattered. There are districts in Berlin where we have 40% of single mothers and. The demands from work have never been greater: you need to be more flexible, you need to move to another city, and you don’t have a network anymore. That is why it is so important to bring people together and make them help each other. SitEinander also matters because it gives access to babysitting services to families that cannot afford it.
Why did you apply to Maze X?
We were looking for some guidance and support to take SitEinander to the next level. We wanted an impact accelerator because we didn’t want to let go of our focus on social impact and only privilege on business. The only European accelerator that we could find at this time was Maze X. I am aware there are others but not at this time and also not with the nice temperatures in Lisbon.
What are the three challenges you would like to tackle throughout the acceleration programme?
We want to test a pricing model. We are working on this right now. Then, define relevant KPIs. I didn’t even know what the difference between KPI’s and data tracking was before joining. So, that was something that we already did, and it helped us lot. Finally, “Product Lean Service Creation” with Nikita Savitskiy was great to clearly define the problem we are solving because, if this version of the app doesn’t work out, we will still know what our vision is and what we can change.
Which startups surprised you the most in the last year?
There is one in German called Einhorn condoms, they make condoms, and they are vegan. It is not about the product, but how they lead their company. It is a self-owned company, and they have decided that they will never sell the company. I like this idea because it is only about the purpose, and they got really big, and it is a trendy topic in Germany and in Berlin, right now, for startups to remain self-owned.
Where do you find wisdom?
Wisdom, I don’t know if I already found it. My mother lives in the middle of the forest, one hour from Berlin, so I find support by going there to rest and chill for time to time.
Right now, when I have to discuss things, I talk a lot with Adam, our UX designer that joined us in January. It is interesting how he combines a design and business approach to problem-solving. Also, with my sisters, we talk everything through. We are a really strong team.
Featured photo: Anna-Lena Gerber presenting SitEinander at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation throughout Maze X.
Maze X was conceived and initiated by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations and MAZE, with the law firm PLMJ joining as a founding corporate member and BNP Paribas, Hospital da Luz Learning Health, Casa do Impacto as partners.