From late night scrolling to launching an app
I didn’t mean to, it just happened, I stumbled into the world of the tech start up. I was that mum who was scrolling in the early hours whilst feeding my baby. I was trying to find something to do the next day to avoid the anxiety of being in the house with a baby to entertain for the whole day. I realised that I was searching across multiple websites, social media platforms and getting frustrated by constantly finding out of date classes, mixed messages or trying to find the answers to whether this is a good class for me and Ruby, bleary-eyed at 2.00 am. How did I know what was good for my baby’s age? Who was going to be there? Where was it? Is it even still running?
I got to thinking that there had to be an easier way to do this and started asking the classes I was attending for their thoughts on what could be better for them. I then researched off the shelf marketplace packages. The result was a clunky version 1 of Koalamama - a marketplace of baby and toddler groups where parents could find, book and pay online for classes in their area. Armed with my mission to make things better for parents like me, I started signing up for local classes. Although I encountered a little hesitance, as my first providers are all so busy themselves, most with their own children as well as their own businesses, we did get a lot of interest and Koalamama had its first transaction within two weeks.
It's not all rattles, rhymes and sensory. One of the main things I want and still need are fitness classes you can take your baby to. I pressured my local gym into starting a Mummy Spin class where you could take your baby in the pram and they “sleep” whilst you work out. The joy of this was every mum was able to tend to their baby’s need and not feel the pressure of dipping in and out of the class but still get a workout and feel better. Post Natal Depression is too high, and parents, especially mothers, need more support and access to these classes.
As time went by, I discovered that my off the shelf marketplace wasn’t up to the task of supporting the users. I needed a bespoke website and app. I’d never run a business before, and I’d certainly never created an app. I also had the ‘Airbnb’ problem – do you sign up customers or providers first? So, I set about trying to learn as much as I could about apps, business, coding, accounts, marketing – you name it. I went to a lot of expos locally - Great British Business, Enterprise Nation and met some amazing people, mainly women, who inspired me to go with my gut instinct and not be scared to reach out and ask questions or ask for help. I read books by people who had been on similar journeys.
I found it incredible that people wanted to help and guide you in the right direction. If they can’t help you, they will introduce you to someone who can. You soon get the feeling that everyone is, or has been, in the same boat and you are all following the same stream. The support itself is enough to make you feel you can conquer the world.
COVID-19 and a Pivot! said in the best David Schwimmer voice. More than ever we all want everything to be in one place to find things easily. This was still the case with online baby and toddler classes although my drive was focused on furlough and then I had to take redundancy.
Now to date, I have been awarded a grant from Coventry University which has allowed me to speed up the process and now we are launching our app in September 2021.
My journey as a founder, an entrepreneur, digital start up, tech newbie, has been enhanced by being accepted onto an accelerator programme in the Midlands. E4F has been a great programme for me to be part of and learn so much from. John (Cooke) is an excellent coach and mentor and I feel that I am getting tailored advice to help me learn to be a better founder and do better for my providers and my parents. The group calls are amazing and cover so much. They’re bringing on my understanding of business. I’m excited about my app launch in September and know that E4F will be with me every step of the way.