After the birth of their first child, attorneys Jonathan and Michelle Gross found themselves faced with the new challenge of finding reliable child care at a reasonable cost. Even after receiving hundreds of resumes in response to their nanny job postings, they still didn’t feel they had found the right match for their family’s needs.
After discussing their struggles with others who were in the same boat, eventually a lightbulb went off for the couple.
“We thought it would be great if there was a way to facilitate nanny shares,” said Michelle. “Many people want to do it, but it’s hard because you have to find another family that’s willing to participate in addition to finding a good nanny. We didn’t have any good resources, and it became so much work that we gave up, like many families do. After brainstorming and coming up with our idea, we called my brother.”
Intrigued by the concept, Michelle’s brother Michael Ontiveros of South Pasadena was immediately on board. He had always been interested in web development, and after spending 17 years working for an investment firm, he was ready to move on. As a new parent himself, he understood and related to the challenges his sister and brother-in-law were dealing with.
So the three of them created Dovetail — an online resource that connects parents and helps them partner for kid play dates, nanny shares, babysitting co-ops and tutoring sessions.
On the site, users can browse profiles, exchange messages and receive notifications when someone new moves to the neighborhood, and more.
“When two things dovetail, they fit together nicely,” said Ontiveros, explaining the genesis of the website’s name.
“The idea is that we’re bringing together families whose needs dovetail with one another and for the purpose of cooperating for the benefit of their children.”
Dovetail pre-launched in July, and while most of the website features won’t be available until the official launch on Sept. 2, currently users can sign up for a profile.
The site has a built-in matching algorithm that automatically matches families based on their compatibility and shared interests, although they have the option to connect with whomever they please by selecting various filters such as location, activities and children’s ages. Families are only required to submit certain bits of information, and they are offered their choice of different profile privacy levels.
“We worked really hard to find the right balance between connecting folks and respecting privacy,” said Jonathan. “It’s got to be a useful tool that people like, but it’s also got to be transparent—which is what we’re all about.”
One warning: Background checks on potential nannies, sitters and play-date partners are not yet part of Dovetail’s process, though Ontiveros said, “That is something we’re looking to add.’’
“One of the features we’re looking to add is to do a paid background check – the user would pay for a background check and get a certification from the site,” Ontiveros said.
But when the site officially launches in September, that will not be available.
“You meet some families through the site and you have to decide for yourself,’’ Ontiveros said.
For the moment, anyone with a zip code can register to use Dovetail, but the site is focusing on the South Pasadena area, where Michael and his wife, Alexis Altounian-Ontiveros, are raising their family. The Grosses live in the Bay Area.
“I grew up here and it made perfect sense to test the website out in this town, which places such great emphasis on community,” said Alexis. “There are many couples and families that move here and don’t know anyone, and Dovetail gives them the opportunity to get acquainted with others, especially before school starts. When our daughter was little, we didn’t know other parents unless we attended community events and activities, and I wanted to have that level of authentic engagement.”
As Dovetail expands, the goal is to have users across the country.
“We want to see people using it, we want to get feedback, and we want to hear about everyone’s experiences so that we can continue to improve,” said Michelle.
For more information, visit go-dovetail.co.