Genevieve Thiers is the CEO of NewFounders, formerly Rise, a coalition of innovators that repurpose their experiences in politics, tech and design to create new tools for conversation and civic education. Before NewFounders, Theirs started Sittercity, which pioneered online matchmaking of families and caregivers, in 2001 while she was a college student in Boston.
“I came up with the idea for Sittercity because I’m the oldest of seven kids and I’ve been babysitting my entire life,” she told Blue Sky. “I was about to graduate Boston College and this pregnant mother was trudging up these steps posting a flier looking for a sitter. I thought, wouldn’t it be great if there was one place, like an online dating service, where you could find all the caregivers in your area.”
The site matches families around the country with babysitters, pet sitters, and elder caregivers. She moved the business to Chicago in 2002 so that she could study opera at Northwestern University. She earned a master’s degree in music performance in 2004.
Theirs stepped down from her position as CEO of Sittercity in 2010, but continued to work within the Chicago tech scene as an investor and mentor.
In March 2015, Thiers, who is also a practicing opera singer, launched High Note Enterprises, an investment fund focused on female entrepreneurs.
Following the 2016 election, Theirs helped found Rise, a political action committee, run like a startup, that helps develop technology to prompt various forms of political action. In 2017, Thiers helped launch NewFounders’ first app, called EveryElection, which sends push notifications to voters that links to useful information about upcoming elections. In October, the coalition hosted its inaugural NewFounders Conference that brought together activists, consultants, potential candidates, and political and tech organizations.
Thiers is a mentor at startup incubator Techstars Chicago and serves on the board of 1871. She is also involved with the Goodman Innovation Group, a tech-focused collective at the Goodman Theatre that bridges technology and the arts.
She lives in Chicago with her husband and business partner Dan Ratner and their children.