Between Marvel’s upcoming “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and Warner Bros.’ “Tomb Raider” remake, actor Walton Goggins (“Vice Principals,” “Justified”) has flown more than 100,000 miles in the last year for work.
That makes it challenging for him and his wife, filmmaker Nadia Conners, to take care of their 6-year-old son and find trusted, reliable sitters, tutors and music teachers. They found themselves constantly texting and calling friends for recommendations, and then turning to the internet, which turned up unvetted strangers.
So Goggins created an app, called Villiger, that’s intended to be a platform that helps like-minded parents connect, find recommendations and book support for their kids.
“My grandmother brought me up and would always tell me it takes a village to raise a child,” Goggins said in a statement. “Now I know what she meant and I am hoping that Villiger will give every parent the village they need to make parenting easier.”
The app enables parents to share sitters, set playdates, and find baseball coaches and piano teachers through the friends and neighbors who make up their “village.” Users can also receive recommendations, advice, requests and contacts within that network, and the app provides direct booking and payment for a variety of support providers including sitters, tutors, music teachers, housekeepers and more.
“Whether I’m traveling to film scenes in different cities and need support, or if I’m at home and trying to arrange a sitter for a spontaneous date night with Nadia, I can simply launch Villiger and my extended community is there, ready to recommend and book,” Goggins said. “No more texting 50 friends during their work hour or dinner time in my frantic search for help.”
With undisclosed seed funding from Nir Zohar, president of Wix; Mark Tluszcz, founding partner of VC firm Mangrove Capital; and Stephen Stokols, co-founder and CEO of FreedomPop, Villiger launches its mobile app in public beta today on iOS and Android.
The app has been in the works for about a year and employs 11 people.
Goggins elaborated via email on what Villiger brings to the market, how beta testers have used it in unexpected ways, and how he plans to monetize it.
What apps did you try before deciding to make your own?
There are no other apps in the market that allow parents to connect and recommend/share resources with each other. That’s why we decided to build Villiger. Unlike Nextdoor, which is a mass social network, we are a focused trusted recommendation and booking platform:
- You can actually book and pay through Villiger, like TaskRabbit.
- It is not open to random neighbors, but only your village, your trusted network, so this is not a mass local social network.
There are apps for finding sitters, or there are apps for finding a random handyman, etc., but there’s no app out there to get a recommended piano teacher for my son. Or ask my parent friends if they know a math tutor for my daughter. Instead, you either Google and sort through strangers, or start texting and calling people to get recommendations.
How has the app worked so far?
So far we have select beta testers on [it]. What has been interesting is that we happened to open the beta at the same time [Independent School Entrance Exam] testing for kids entering middle schools was coming up. We saw a huge surge in people looking for and recommending and booking ISEE tutors, which was an unexpected benefit. We learned that niche support like tutors and coaches is a great use case for our app, especially in L.A.
How do you plan on attracting users to Villiger?
Though marketing, viral inviting and word of mouth. The app works best when you have friends in your village, and we are seeing that the average users invites eight-plus people into his village. We are also partnering with parent groups and bloggers to promote our tool, initially focused on those in L.A.