Today we’d like to introduce you to Joanna McFarland.
Hi Joanna, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today.
I started the business in 2014 with two other working moms. We were searching for a solution that would enable us to get our children where they needed to go without compromising our careers or sacrificing our kids’ needs due to busy schedules.
From the beginning, it had to be safe enough for our kids, and we designed it from the ground up with safety in mind. For me, the question was: “What would I need to see to feel comfortable putting Jackson or Sam in a HopSkipDrive ride?”
Pretty quickly, we realized the solution we built for families was also an important solution for schools, which often have challenges managing all of the varied transportation needs they have while also dealing with bus driver shortages. Safety is the underlying foundation of our business, and it has helped spur our growth as families and schools nationwide trust HopSkipDrive.
Eight years later, our solution spans 20 major markets in 11 states and the District of Columbia, and we’re growing faster than ever. To date, we’ve saved tens of thousands of busy families 34 combined years of drive time, we’ve partnered with over 300 schools and districts, and our CareDrivers have driven over 20 million safe miles.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Every startup journey has its ups and downs, and we’ve certainly had our share. We’d never found a business before, and it wasn’t easy to take the leap from the stability of corporate life to being an entrepreneur.
But I was so compelled to solve this massive problem for families and for schools that I knew I had to create this company. Every day, we help thousands of kids get to and from school safely, and we hear stories of lives that have been changed for the better. It’s a great reminder of how important this solution is and how all of the challenges have been worth it.
When COVID closed schools across the country, we had to make some really tough decisions to keep the business running, including considerable layoffs. Millions of kids experienced significant learning loss, especially the vulnerable populations HopSkipDrive serves.
As schools reopened across the country, we sprang into action helping our district partners get those kids to school, and we experienced explosive growth.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Designed by protective moms and driven by caregivers, HopSkipDrive is the innovator in providing safe, dependable youth transportation solutions for schools, districts, government agencies, and families. HopSkipDrive’s advanced technology platform and industry-leading operational expertise provide flexibility and visibility while helping to create opportunity for all through mobility.
Everything starts with safety. We created HopSkipDrive on a foundation of safety that starts before the ride and continues during the ride. It starts with CareDrivers (also referred to as “caregivers on wheels”), who help to safely get kids where they are going. CareDrivers must pass a 15-point certification process, have a minimum of five years of caregiving experience and undergo strict background checks.
During rides, there are additional safety features. In addition to caregivers and schools being able to track rides in real-time in the app, the HopSkipDrive Safe Ride Support system monitors every ride in progress to make sure everything runs smoothly. We’re the only ones in the industry with a Safe Ride Support team, and we combine that team with state-of-the-art proprietary technology that gets more intelligent with each ride.
As a mission-driven company dedicated to creating opportunity for all through mobility, we’re also committed to connecting and serving communities for whom transportation is often a barrier. Through partnerships with districts, counties, and volunteer organizations, we help transport youth experiencing homelessness, youth in foster care, and any individual who may need a little extra assistance.
CareDrivers love driving with HopSkipDrive: They can earn up to $40/hr* and enjoy the benefits of having a flexible schedule, setting their own hours, and making a big difference in their community. Individuals in the Tampa area who are interested in applying to become a CareDriver can visit hopskipdrive.com/drive to learn more.
- CareDrivers can earn up to $40/hr*
- Website: www.hopskipdrive.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hopskipdrive
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hopskipdrive/
- Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/hopskipdrive/
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/hopskipdrive/
- Other: www.hopskipdrive.com/drive
Greg Ullery and Sarah Huffman