“You really get to know these kids. They respond well in that environment, even the hesitant ones.”
—Stacy Shannon, founder of GoKart Kids
It was one of those lightbulb moments for Stacy Shannon. A single mother at the time, she was mentally strategizing how to get from her office to her son’s school to drop him off at practice—in a span of 30 minutes. She says she thought, “Why isn’t there a car service for kids? Like if Care.com and Uber had a baby.” The mother of three added a fourth, and GoKart Kids was born. Shannon launched the ridesharing service in 2016, for children between the ages of six and 17. Today, GoKart kids are catching rides to and from school, practice, dance, and appointments in Wake, Durham, Orange, Alamance, Johnston, and Franklin counties.
Shannon and her business partner, Carly Hemminger, are driven by their desire to help families. She says that for single parents, working parents, and families with multiple children, it can be exhausting to coordinate reliable and safe transportation. Safety is her main priority. Each driver must be interviewed in person, have at least five years of childcare experience, and submit to a thorough background check. There are 50 drivers in the area, mostly moms themselves. A few dads are on the roster too, as well as retired police officers and special education teachers.
Booking a trip for your child is much like other ridesharing services, with the option to book a ride in advance. Once a driver selects the ride, the parent receives a confirmation along with the driver’s photo, car information, and phone number. Parents can also download the FamilyMap app to track the ride. Shannon says her favorite part of the job is the relationships she forms with her riders. “You really get to know these kids,” she says, “they respond well in that environment, even the hesitant ones.” One mom says her daughter was nervous about her first ride, but later reported, “Mom, it’s like one of your friends picked me up.”
In the two years since GoKart Kids began, business has boomed, with a small expansion in Charlotte, and requests coming from as far as Tampa, Florida, and Houston, Texas. Shannon says she’s just happy growing her business at home while spending quality time with her three children and husband. That’s how she likes to roll. —Katherine Poole