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Local startup gets $1 million to keep curing school car-line headaches

TAMPA — A service developed in Tampa that simplifies the afternoon school dismissal process has received an injection of nearly $1 million from a pair of Florida angel investors.

PikMyKid, a tablet- and smartphone-based communication portal that automatically sequences cars, displays the status of students and instantly handles chores such as updating lists for delegated pickup duties when a parent can't make it, impressed directors of FAN Investors Fund I and Florida Funders, two backers that focus on early-stage companies.

"Our decision to invest was supported by PikMyKid's expanding user base and the high levels of engagement and customer satisfaction that the solution achieves," said Mitchel Laskey, managing director of the FAN fund, based in Orlando. "We are excited to work with the team on further development of their growth strategy."

Pat Bhava, a former restaurateur, developed the PikMyKid system out of his own frustration picking up his child after school ( tbtim.es/12zs).

It involves a geo-fence surrounding a school, with parents directed to activate the PikMyKid app on their smartphone as they enter the "bubble."

Teachers managing dismissal then get a real-time dashboard of who is in line, and kids' names are swiped on an iPad as they are released to the proper car. Parents and caregivers are instantly notified of progress.

"After watching CEO Bhava lead and grow PikMyKid over the last two years, we are thrilled to partner with FAN Fund and provide Pat with the capital necessary to reach his next level of growth," said Marc Blumenthal, chief executive of Florida Funders, which is based in Tampa.

The total investment was $980,000. PikMyKid said the money will go to continued product development, marketing and customer acquisition. The company plans to add several full-time employees.

PikMyKid has grown from serving two Florida schools in the fall of 2015 to more than 50 schools in 14 states. Operations recently moved out of Bhava's garage in Westchase to offices on Memorial Highway.

Contact Jerome R. Stockfisch at jstockfisch@tampabay.com.

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