Suffering caretakers she didn’t like was out the question for Noa Mintz, who started babysitter-matching service Nannies by Noa at age 12. Today, she artfully balances high school and success as an entrepreneur.
Noa Mintz grew up as the oldest of four children on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and always had high expectations for the babysitters her parents hired.
When her mother, Meredith Berkman, was desperate for an extra set of hands, she often requested caretakers through a nanny agency, offering specific criteria: experience watching older kids and the ability to handle multiple drop-offs and pick-ups at different schools throughout the city.
Yet despite her mother’s specifications, Mintz found that the nannies sent by the service were nothing like the kind of caretakers her mom requested. “We had nannies who would come and say, ‘I don’t want to be around older kids,’ or ‘This isn’t what I want,’” she recalls. Through those experiences, Mintz figured out that some agencies preferred to focus more on candidates’ resumes than on families’ needs.
So she started approaching women she met at birthday parties, church services and other social events and asking them: “Do you babysit?” Using the pen and pad she always carried with her, Mintz began adding names of sitters to what became her “Nannies List.” All the while, her mom chuckled and watched in amusement — Noa was only 12 at the time, after all.
That list became the underpinning of Nannies by Noa, a child care agency that does babysitter matching with families in New York City and the surrounding area. It quickly gained popularity through word of mouth, as more people heard Mintz’s surprising story. At first, she simply provided her list to parents. But soon, she expanded her services by personally finding nannies for each family, based on their needs, and charging parents $100 to $200 per match.
Mintz, who is now 17, never imagined a business would come out of her personal search for better babysitters. “It all happened in a very raw and authentic way,” she says. “I was a child, so I wasn’t trying to make a living to pay for room and board. It was a passion, and I was trying to gain people’s trust.”
A Selective Process
To formalize a rather young Mintz’s efforts, her father Daniel Mintz, acting as her guardian, registered Nannies by Noa as a limited liability company and helped her launch an official website in 2013. Despite her youth, she has always taken her agency seriously and takes particular care interviewing nannies looking to join her team. “I don’t let my age get in the way,” she says.
Before being hired, prospective nannies undergo a long evaluation process, though “I usually sense their vibe right when they walk in,” she says. From caretakers, Mintz is primarily looking for excitement during conversations about kids, past experiences that demonstrate commitment to their work, and an overall understanding of how to effectively engage kids and understand parents with different types of personalities.
In addition to 45 minute interviews, each applicant must submit to social media screenings, reference requests and background checks to ensure that families can trust any new caretakers coming into their homes.
But for those who are hired, that effort pays off — literally, since nannies at the agency earn between $50,000 and $75,000 a year, the median wage for nannies working in New York City. From those earnings, Mintz takes a 15-percent cut. She declined to disclose her annual revenue.
Over the last 4 years, Nannies by Noa has worked with approximately 650 sitters and nannies on behalf of nearly 500 families throughout the tri-state area. Since September 2015, the company has matched the two parties from its offices in Midtown Manhattan.
The Best of Both Worlds
Initially, Mintz put all of her spare energy and time outside school into her growing venture. But she quickly reached a point where working 40 hours a week as an entrepreneur and balancing school work became too much. She decided to lighten the load by hiring her first CEO, Allison Johnson, who had initially applied to be a nanny in 2014. Her current CEO, Jo Barrow, was voted “Nanny of the Year” by the International Nanny Association in 2013.
Despite the in-the-trenches credentials of her CEOs, Mintz says “it was hard letting someone else help me because I loved it too much. But I also realized I can bring in someone who has more experience and is older and wiser.”
Letting someone else manage her “baby” has given Mintz the space to focus on high school and have a social life — like every 17-year-old who isn’t running a thriving business. She admits that she doesn’t have the top grades in her class, but she’s comfortable with the difference between in being “book smart” and “entrepreneurial smart.”
Mintz explained: “You have to make sacrifices and really want something when it comes to running a business, and being a teenager isn’t an excuse. It’s a lot of commitment, and you have to put up boundaries to make it in this industry.”
She also manages to give back by serving as president of the Entrepreneurship Club, where students and staff come to her for advice about their various business ideas. “I love that because I want to be that person they can come to for help.”
With her senior year of high school approaching, Mintz is now looking ahead to college, where she hopes to study something that revolves around business and art. But no matter what comes, she plans to continue growing Nannies by Noa. Next, it’s adding training courses for nannies and, down the road, aims to expand to other cities.
Indeed, Mintz plans to be involved in the business into adulthood. “I’m sticking with Nannies by Noa for now, and I definitely plan to do so for awhile, and if not awhile, for a long, long time,” she says.
Posted: May 1, 2017