Seven moms do the impossible: run companies while raising kids
Starting and running your own business is no joke. Neither is having kids. And then you see people who are somehow managing to do both, and it BLOWS MY MIND. So in honor of Mother’s Day (it’s this Sunday, don’t blow it), I give you seven moms who are doing the impossible: founding and/or running their own companies while also raising kids.
Sheila Marcelo, founder and CEO, Care.com
Founded in 2006, Care.com boasts some seven million members in more than 15 countries and has raised $109 million to date. Marcelo is also mother to sons Ryan (21) and Adam (13). Her top tip for running a company and raising kids: a meditation mantra of “I am not in control” and letting go of perfection.
Julia Hartz, co-founder and president, Eventbrite
Hartz co-founded Eventbrite in 2006 with husband Kevin Hartz. The company has gone on to raise $140 million and recently topped $1.5 billion in total ticket sales, one-third of which is just from the last year. The mother of two daughters ages one and five, Hartz has three solid tips for surviving and thriving as both a mother and an entrepreneur:
- Be ruthless with prioritization. Just say no. I spent my 20s saying yes to everything, and am spending my 30s learning to say no.
- We live our lives in shared Google Calendar. We wake, eat and breathe to our calendar's beat. There is a funny story where Kevin forgot to leave the office because his calendar didn't tell him to.
- Having the courage to ask for and receive help. This is the case for any mom, working or not.
Jessica Kim, founder and CEO, Babbaco
Kim got the idea for Babbaco—a monthly box of activities, books, and educational toys for kids—in 2007, when she was pregnant with her first child. Since then, Babbaco has raised $1.55 million. Kim raised $1.2 million while pregnant with her third child and closed the round from her hospital bed. Mother to one daughter and two sons—ages six, three, and 10 months—Jessica Kim has perfected the art of prioritization and time management:
Being a mom and being an entrepreneur are two 24/7 full-time jobs, so it can be overwhelming if you're constantly trying to balance the two. Focus on what's in front of you. Set the priorities for that day (or even hour) and then be laser focused on that. When you're at work, don't stress about the kids. Be efficient and let your entrepreneurial drive and passion take over. When you're at home, leave the work worries and task lists at the door. Kids deserve 100% of your attention and heart. Don't try to juggle them both in the same hour because it'll only lead to frustration.
Jennifer Wong, co-founder and CEO, Alt12
Wong got the idea for Alt12—a suite of pregnancy, fertility, and parenting social apps—when she was pregnant with her first child. She co-founded the company in 2009 with husband Carey Sackett and went on to raise $1.26 million in seed funding. Today, the company’s apps boast some of the most robust mobile communities of parents and parents-to-be, with nine million cumulative downloads and 1.2 million active users. Wong is also the mother of two boys, ages three and 15 months. Her tips for success:
1) Work in sprints so you know there's an end in sight. I accept I don't have day-to-day work life balance, but I prioritize the time I need with my kids (mornings getting them ready and the evening for family time). Everything else goes to work, into the wee hours of the night working towards a product goal. At the end of the sprint I cut myself a break and use the flexibility of my schedule to do something for myself like taking a Monday off to celebrate my birthday with my husband!
2) Don't forget to celebrate the small victories in both parenting and startup life. It's really easy to get overwhelmed and exhausted and lose sight of the progress and accomplishments you make along the way.
Kara Nortman, co-founder and CEO, Moonfrye
Having just closed a $2.5 million round of funding from such big name firms as GRP Partners, Greycroft, and Google Ventures, Moonfrye is the crafty parent’s dream. Named after its co-founder, Soleil Moon Frye (aka Punky Brewster), the site is full of nifty ideas and visual how-to guides, but there are some products in the pipeline that will take the company beyond the blogosphere and into the commerce realm. Co-founder and CEO Kara Nortman is also mom to a three-year-old, a five-year-old, and she’s due to give birth to number three like, any second. How is she running a company while raising two kids and cooking a third? She follows three basic guidelines:
1) Short commute! Planning logistics well so that your home, kid's school and office are a short distance apart helps considerably. Because I can run out to be at my daughter's play or Thanksgiving feast and back at the office with minimal commute overhead, I am able to make events and schedule into my day with greater ease.
2) Pick the most important times/moments with your kids and make them meaningful/hold them sacred and don't apologize for doing them. For example, I take my kids to school in the mornings and have 2 hours with them every night in which I turn off everything. I do not go near my phone, no distractions.
3) Integrate your kids into your work. I am the CEO of a new company, Moonfrye, that is all about inspiring creativity in families. My consumer passion and sense of mission has never been stronger or more connected to what I do professionally. Because of this, I am able to bring my work home and bring my kids into my work- discussing it with them, testing products, etc. Even if what you are building/doing isn't related to your children, kids love getting involved and understanding what mommy does.
Kristen Koh Goldstein, founder and CEO, BackOps
With $1.5 million in seed funding, BackOps employs remote workers (such as work-at-home moms) to
provide SMBs and entrepreneurs with the time consuming back office stuff they need—like accounting, finance, and HR—so they can focus on more critical components of their business, like product and customer acquisition. BackOps’ “riveters” include CPAs, bookkeepers, controllers, and more, and the company’s client list includes Spreecast, Ecofabulous, Fundly, and AngelList, among others. Mom to eight-year-old Jack, six-year-old Athena, and one-year-old Rex, Kristen founded BackOps to show that motherhood and career are not incompatible. Her tip for juggling the two:
Work at BackOps! We are a network of moms who work from home while our kids are at school.
Meliza Surdi, founder and CEO, JustBumped
An online retailer for sporty maternity clothes, JustBumped is just getting off the ground with its initial line of maternity tank tops, but the company has plans to branch out into other items beyond clothing. What does JustBumped actually mean? Essentially, if you’re holding a positive pregnancy test, you’ve been “JustBumped.” Surdi finds that sticking to a schedule helps her balance work with life at home with an 18-month-old.
I'll usually schedule calls or pump out emails during Tru's morning show while he eats breakfast, then later during his 2 hour afternoon nap, and then I'll get more work done during one of his educational shows in the afternoon. In between it's all about taking him to the park, reading or coloring with him, or playing piano.
Bambi Francisco, founder and CEO, Vator
When not running a vibrant network of entrepreneurs and the Vator newsroom, Bambi Francisco is raising four sons, ages 12, 10, 6, and one. Bambi’s tips for balancing a company with raising kids:
One of the best ways to balance work and kids is to take care of your health. While I'm not as active as I was when I didn't have kids, I make it a point to push myself to work out - running, biking, skiing/snowboarding. I also try to be active with my family, like running with my husband pushing the baby jogger while our other sons bike. Managing work and kids require stamina. And you can't have that if you're not well.
But there’s a caveat. Francisco says a mom entrepreneur needs to be realistic about her goals and priorities.
Now for women who are at the helm of a company that's on a growth trajectory, then you can't have it all, especially if you have several children. You can't spend quality time with all of them (going to every baseball game, recital, watching their "first" achievements, sitting down and reading and doing homework), and expect to put in the needed hours that is demanded of a CEO. So the tip is: Get help - grandparents/spouse/babysitters. But even with help, you still need to manage your time well. She lives off her calendar and list of to do's. She and her husband have a shared calendar, with all family and work events. Another tip: Separate work and kid time. "When you're with your children, make it matter and give them your undivided attention."
And even though I'm not an entrepreneur, I'm going to include a picture of my son zoning out to some morning cartoons:
Related Companies, Investors, and Entrepreneurs
Joined Vator on
Founded in 2006, Care.com is the largest and fastest growing service used by families to find high-quality caregivers, providing a trusted place to easily connect, share caregiving experiences and get advice. The company addresses the unique lifecycle of care needs that each family goes through-child care, special needs care, tutoring and lessons, senior care, pet care, housekeeping and more. The service helps families find and select the best care available based on detailed profiles, background checks and references for hundreds of thousands of mom-reviewed and pre-screened providers who seek to share their services. Through its Care.com Employer Program, corporations can offer Care.com memberships as a benefit to employees. www.care.com
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Bad Ass Advisors is a private curated service that matches 1000+ Bad Ass Advisors with qualified, funded bad ass earlier stage companies.
Mark also manages Advisors.fund, a microfund that invests in health tech and SaaS. He has made over 100 early stage investments to date.
Joined Vator on
Vator (short for innovator) is an awesome professional network for entrepreneurs and investors that sits at the intersection of media and finance. Our entrepreneurial ecosystem consists of startups, investors, strategics and service providers.
Vator’s platform offers an extensive set of services to the entrepreneurial community. Here is a quick summary of our suite of offerings:
VatorNews: Research, analysis and coverage, spanning news, thought leadership and lessons learned
VatorX: SaaS platform leveraged by startup communities and competitions to rank and filter participating startups
Vator Events: Well recognized large and small events across numerous geographies and sectors
Vator Investment Club: Our investor group for accredited investor members of the Vator community
Vator Teams: Our confidential acquihire platform for startup teams
Vator was originally founded by Bambi Francisco and seed funded by its original lead investor Peter Thiel as a social network for startups and investors, combining media coverage with rich profiles and filtering. Over the more than decade since its founding Vator has expanded to offer a full range of services to the entrepreneurial community. Today Vator is a well-recognized and trusted member of the startup community.
Vator has a range of business models due to its diversified set of offerings.
Joined Vator onI have been a startup CFO for 9 years. I build the back office (Accounting, Finance, and HR) for young companies so that its founders can focus on product and customer development.
Joined Vator onJennifer Wong is the Founder and CEO of Alt12 Apps, developers of the largest mobile first women’s network. Jennifer’s pregnancy inspired her to harness mobile technology to address women’s needs.