Peter Helms is the founder and CEO of ZipSit, an app that helps parents find babysitters and manage childcare services.
What part of Arizona do you call home?
What sparked an initial interest in tech?
I’ve always been fascinated with how certain technology can make people’s life more efficient, and in the same vein, if used in the wrong way, can make people’s life less efficient. The latter drives me crazy.
What was your very first entrepreneurial venture?
In high school, I had a car detailing business. I loaded up on supplies at Costco and started detailing cars in the neighborhood. I got to drive a bunch of cool cars around and make some money. Great gig for a 16-year-old.
How did you come up with the idea for your current business?
I founded ZipSit out of the frustration my wife and I felt trying to manage sitters for our three daughters. There were no simple solutions to find, hire, pay, and manage our trusted sitters. The sitting market is so fragmented and really hasn’t embraced technology to improve efficiencies for families and sitters. ZipSit’s mission is to relieve the anxieties of hiring, paying, and managing your sitters.
What is your favorite part about running a business?
I enjoy working with a team of talented people who wake up every day focused on making a difference in people’s lives. The grind, the competitive landscape, thinking outside the box to achieve milestones. It’s all fun!
What was the biggest challenge in executing this idea?
We are still executing the idea, so there are many challenges ahead. We’ve had some early success which has helped validate the direction of the ZipSit App. I guess the biggest challenge for ZipSit is my patience. We have so many great ideas, but we need to take it one step at a time, and that can be tough for me at times.
How long have you lived or worked in Arizona?
I moved to Arizona in April 2005, so just over twelve years ago. I’m close friends with Ori Eisen (Trusona, 41st Parameter) and Todd Davis (Lifelock), whom I’ve known for over 10 years, and it’s been interesting to see how far the technology “scene” has come. If you were a technology company in Arizona ten years ago, it was next to impossible to be taken seriously. I believe Ori and Todd have been a considerable influence in changing that image. Today you see startups getting funded, blossom, acquired, so on. Ten years ago it was a different landscape.
If you could only describe your city with one word, which word would it be?
What’s your favorite thing about living in Arizona?
Arizona is a wonderful place to raise a family. It’s a “warm” community that embraces people from all stripes. Zero hierarchy!
What’s your least favorite thing about living in Arizona?
I hate scorpions! They freak me out.
In what area do you think Arizona still has a long way to go?
Technology (improving), solar (we should own solar), diversifying outside of real estate. I think 90 percent of my friends are in real estate.
The foodie scene is growing bigger and bigger by the day here in Arizona. What is your favorite place to get breakfast in your city?
I’m not a huge “let’s do breakfast” guy, but The Henry is close to my home in Arcadia and it’s always a fun place to visit.
What’s your favorite place to grab lunch?
Funny thing is, we usually order in. Sakana Sushi is close to my office and, in my opinion, the best bang for your buck for sushi. The Vig is close also and is always good. Houston’s is great, but if you don’t get there before 11:30 or after 1 PM, good luck getting a seat.
What’s your favorite dinner spot?
My wife and I have dual citizenship with Italy, and we do love Veneto Trattoria Italiana in Scottsdale—our kids love it, also.
What’s your favorite place to work in your city aside from your office?
Outpost at Arizona Country Club is nice during the day. Plus, I can hit some balls if I get bored, so it works out well.
Best place for a meeting over drinks?
My office! Second is Jade Bar at the Sanctuary.
What is your favorite memory from Arizona?
One of my favorite memories was when I was a student at University of Arizona in 1997 and we won the National Championship in men’s basketball.
What is something about living in Arizona that only a local would know of?
I can have a formal meeting or go out to a nice restaurant wearing a golf shirt, shorts, and flip flops, and that’s awesome—even if it drives my parents crazy.
Any tips for new Arizona residents?
It’s been said a thousand times, but the people in Arizona are very embracing. So many of us have been raised in other cities and now call Arizona our home. Welcoming out-of-town people to our state is a huge asset and only makes us stronger and more diverse, which is a good thing.