Over two years ago I gave birth to my daughter and like every new parent, I wanted to give her everything. I wanted to find the best pediatrician, the highest quality child care, the most enriching things to do with her on the weekend, and all the other information I needed to be a successful parent. But as a full-time working mom, I found it pretty challenging to even have time for the basics, like feeding her and giving her a bath. Forget having time to research anything else!
There isn’t one single place to get parenting information, and many recommendations are shared in private mother’s groups which I wasn’t a part of as a working mom. Mobile apps for parents are basically nonexistent. Navigating all this information can feel like a full-time job.
I had an epiphany one day when I was at work that maybe no one has built great technology for parents not because it’s so hard to build but because there aren’t enough moms starting companies. I have a technology background — I was a computer science major at MIT and I’ve worked at tech companies like Google and Twitter. I realized I had the right background and expertise to build an app for parents, and I knew based on being a parent and my discussions with other parents that access to information was a big pain point.
The only thing that was holding me back was myself. I was worried that starting a company would give me even less time with my daughter. Tech startups have the reputation for being grueling environments where young people work 24 hours a day and wear hoodies. I realized that if I was going to start a company, I’d need to do things differently and set up a work environment that would allow me to be the person I needed to be at home.
A lot of people thought I was crazy to start a company as a new mom but fast forward to today and Winnie is an app used by over 100,000 parents across the country. We’ve raised venture funding from some of the biggest names in the technology industry. Parents rely on Winnie to find high-quality affordable childcare, get answers to their parenting questions, and find things to do with their kids.
But more importantly, starting a company has also helped me find success in another aspect of my life: being a mom. I’m able to be a better mom to my daughter because I have control over my schedule. I have more time to spend with my family because I call the shots. I can come in late to work to take my daughter to a doctor’s appointment, or leave early to play with her in the afternoon. We all eat dinner together as a family every night and that’s something I would not have been able to do if I stayed in my old job and worked typical tech company hours. The time we spend together matters more to her than anything I’ll accomplish in my professional life so having that time is an accomplishment in and of itself.
Through this experience of starting a company I’ve learned that starting a business isn’t just for young guys in hoodies, it’s also a great career path for moms. When it’s your own company, you set the ground rules that work for you and you don’t have to compromise. Better yet, you get to build an environment that’s a great place for other people to work too. People who also desire work-life balance in their lives will seek you out and want to work for you.
Since I’ve started Winnie, I have spoken to countless other moms who are thinking about taking the leap. My advice to all of them is to go for it! You are your child’s biggest role model and when you take the leap into the unknown you’re showing them that one day they can too