Consider the case of Kimberly Ross, clever Berrie Center patient diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 11. Hers is an inspiring story about, a good idea, an entrepreneurial spirit, and an unusual work ethic.
When she was 14-years-old (yes, Kim was in the 9th grade) she created a service that possibly all parents and caregivers of children with type 1 diabetes could use—a night out and a babysitter who could care for a child with diabetes. Like so many great ideas, Kim overheard parents talking about the dearth of babysitters who could take care of kids with diabetes. As an experienced babysitter and type 1, Kim saw an opportunity. Kim launched Safesittings from her kitchen table in New York City.
Here‘s how Kim explains Safesittings (www.safesittings.com): “Safesittings is a nationwide website that makes available teens with Type 1 diabetes as babysitters for children with diabetes. These teens have been managing their own care for many years. They understand the dangerous highs and lows inherent in the disease and have the skills to test blood sugars, give insulin injections, adjust insulin pumps and treat hypoglycemia.”
After working through the logistics common to any start up business, Safesittings quickly took off. “I pitched the idea to my school nurse and she invited me to a School Nurses Association meeting,” Kim said. “From there I gained 15 or 16 private schools in my network. It grew organically from there.”
Her idea soon became a b-to-b (baby to babysitter) sensation.
The Wall Street Journal called to interview Kim, so did ABC News, Diabetes News and NBC News. “Safesittings went national,” Kim said, adding the group’s tagline: We have it, we know it. “Most of it was building the site and a lot of word of mouth—and today, we have a network of Safe Sitters and a group of very happy families.”
“This is a service that helps alleviate one hard thing about having diabetes,” Kim said. It also helps that there is no fee to join Safesittings. Kim, who makes no money from Safesittings, leaves all payment discussions between the family and the Safe Sitter.
Looking ahead, Kim is working on creating national awareness in the US, Canada and abroad. She travels near and far to speak about Safesittings, to share materials and user testimonials.
“People speak highly of their experience using our site and connecting with our sitters. People who use it tend to stay with it. Families have made great connections,” Kim said.
Kim, a patient of Dr. Robin Goland, J. Merrill Eastman Professor of Clinical Diabetes, Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at Columbia University, sees Safesittings as an extension of the themes she has learned at the Berrie Center. “It’s about building a network to make life easier and developing a support system of people you can rely on. Like the Berrie Center, we aren’t trying to be a big corporation. We (Safe Sitters) are just trying to help out.”
Now 26-years-old, Kim aspires to be an entrepreneur in health and wellness arena. She will be entering Harvard Business School in the Fall.