Hit the Road with Janelle McGlothlin of HopSkipDrive

Janelle McGlothlin is the co-founder of HopSkipDrive, a company that provides a caregiver-driven ride service for driving kids to and from their daily activities, easing the stress on busy parents.

Janelle (R) with her co-founders Carolyn (L) and Joanna (C).

Janelle (R) with her co-founders Carolyn (L) and Joanna (C).

We sat down with her to discuss the whirlwind ride that is HopSkipDrive and the lessons she’s learned on the journey.

How did your education at Penn and early career prepare you for being an entrepreneur?

I was a dabbler- I had two pretty different majors; I really liked the idea of being able to do and learn a lot of different things. And being an entrepreneur, you need to be able to pick up different hats all the time, so having a diverse education helped with that. Straight after college, I pursued the startup path. I liked the smallness of it and that I got to have a hand in all different parts of the business.

Walk me through a typical day at HopSkipDrive.

Well, as at any startup, every day is totally different depending on what arises. My role is on the brand messaging side of the business, so I do everything from develop messaging to the customer, discussing how to best pitch the company with the PR team, responding to Yelp comments, constructing messaging within our new app interface, and coordinating with the customer service team. Each day is filled with these meetings and developing strategy that’ll move the company forward.

What are next steps for HSD?

We’ve been busy finalizing our new app, which has a lot of new functionality like carpooling, so that’s an exciting development. Right now, we operate in Los Angeles, Orange County, and the Bay Area, but we hear on a daily basis from parents in other parts of California and the rest of the country about how much they need us. We are definitely planning to grow, but making sure we grow responsibly and maintain all of the safety measures we have in place is our biggest priority.

Can you describe the dynamic between you and your co-founders, especially being an all-women team?

Joanna and I have known each other for many years. The idea for HopSkipDrive was born at a birthday party when we were discussing transportation struggles as working moms; we jokingly suggested buying vans and having babysitters or other moms drive our kids around and soon realized we might be on to something. We were later introduced to Carolyn (we like to say we ‘founder dated’) and it all clicked. We were all in similar life stages, but had different skills (Carolyn is the legal side, I am marketing, and Joanna does product design). This led to the perfect team.

What is your favorite aspect of HopSkipDrive?

By far, it is hearing the way that we’ve changed families’ lives; as a professional woman, it is a struggle that you have to figure out, so hearing that we’ve helped women in everything from finding time to start their own companies to giving kids the support they need (in terms of tutoring or activities). Hearing these stories has been hugely motivating for me and shows we’re accomplishing our goal.

What advice do you have for budding women entrepreneurs?

In college, I was always moving between ideas; back then, I thought it was a character flaw that I couldn’t settle on one path, but I now realize it’s a great trait to have. It kept me open to ideas and new opportunities. I urge young women to be open to things you don’t know or things you might not know much about, because you never know where your next big opportunity/skill will come from.

What is your favorite quote/life motto?

Our family has one overarching rule at home — “Be cool and be kind.” It’s basically our way of saying to keep your head, don’t blow things out of proportion, and to be good to one another. I try to apply that in all aspects of my life.

Who is one of your female role models and why?

For me, Eleanor Roosevelt has always been a role model: she humbly got things done, was astute in her way of managing the process, and always put other people first.

Contributor: Megha Keshav


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