“HELICOPTER parent” may sound like an insult, but given the chance, most parents would probably opt for the help of a chopper to zoom little ones between school, football practice and piano lessons. Getting children where they need to go is a huge hassle and expense, especially in homes where both parents work. Hailing rides through firms like Uber and Lyft has made life more convenient for adults. But drivers are not supposed to pick up unaccompanied minors (although some are known to bend the rules).

Youngsters represent a fresh-faced opportunity. Ride-hailing for kids could be a market worth at least $50bn in America, hopes Ritu Narayan, the founder of Zum, one of the startups pursuing the prize. These services are similar to Uber’s, except they allow parents to schedule rides for their children in advance. Children are given a code word to ensure they find the right driver, and parents receive alerts about the pick-up and ride, including the car’s speed. These services promise more rigorous background checks, fingerprinting and training than typical ride-hailing companies.

Annette Yolas, who works in sales at AT&T, a wireless…Continue reading