Tilting the work-life scale back to balance
Growing up in Austin, TX with a family business, she knew running a business was in her blood, and she wanted to help other families find a way to integrate work and life. So, she channeled her passion into purpose and started her own business to help bridge the gap between technology and modern-day families. She shares some of her story below:
My commitment to work-life balance
I often joke that I am a geriatric millennial. As someone who grew up in the 1980’s and 1990’s, I have always wanted to integrate work and life. I realized early on that my generation was obsessed with a work- life balance—even before having kids—and finding the right solutions for millennial moms has always driven and inspired me. I turned my passion into my pet project as soon as I joined Kellogg.
During my first year at Kellogg, I examined the work-life balance macro-trend. I recruited 40 of my classmates to work on my business idea during group projects, and for the variety of expertise and knowledge my classmates had—it would have cost me millions of dollars to hire this many McKinsey consultants in the real world! I ultimately had an idea fora cleaning service for strollers and car seats—we were like the Geek Squad for the baby industry. I scaled the business after graduation with service centers inside buybuyBaby stores all over the country. On the weekends, I would drive around in a van cleaning strollers and car seats- it was humbling!
Eight years into running my business, I became a mother and I now have two daughters, ages three and one. When I returned from my first maternity leave, I quickly realized I had much bigger problems than just a dirty stroller! With my decade of experience in the baby industry, I noticed a big gap when it came to connecting new and expecting parents with useful service providers. There was a need for something like Angie’s List or care.com, a technology platform to meet the needs of modern-day families.I recognized this as a big opportunity, so I decided to sell my first business and focus on building a platform for baby-related services and new (or soon-to-be) parents. We closed the M&A deal on March 12, 2020, which was a crazy time, and launched the new company just as the lockdowns began. We learned how to offer services like lactation and sleep consulting virtually.
Taking my business to the next level
I have a vision to revolutionize the baby registry the way Honeyfund changed the wedding industry. Baby services is a multi-billion-dollar industry, but it’s very fragmented and no one had cracked the code on how to get services for new parents on the baby registry.
Tot Squad is a technology company that enables brands to sell these services to their existing audiences, and Wal-Mart is the first major retailer to offer services in addition to their products. With Tot Squad, you can now add expert help to your cart when you purchase a baby product. For example, when you purchase a car seat you can also buy installation services. This year we will be launching with several other major retailers, and baby brands even can use Tot Squad services as a marketing tool to offer gifts with purchase and help sell their products
Eighty percent of college graduates live away from their hometowns. A lot of us no longer have a support system where our mother or grandmother lives close by, so we are having to rely on outside services. I am from Texas; my husband’s family is in Florida—we are in Los Angeles by ourselves. Being able to find personalized support through the challenging period of early motherhood is so important. My company democratizes access to this help by making these services affordable no matter where you live. Having been both a service provider and mom/consumer in this industry, I understand both sides of the marketplace we are building.
Up until recently, I was the only full-time employee in the company and it has been a lot to balance: launching in 500 Walmart stores and several other mass retailers alongside pregnancy and nursing and late nights with a pandemic baby. But I now have three full-time employees and three part-time employees. We have been bootstrapping but with all of our recent traction, we are close to raising a large round of Seed capital.
How Kellogg shaped me
Growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, I knew since sixth grade that was the direction I wanted to go in. When I was at Kellogg, I leveraged every experiential learning opportunity possible. I participated in the Venture Lab, a quarter-long experiential learning course with an internship at a venture fund, incubator or startup; I studied retail entrepreneurship in India and I interned at a Chicago start-up between my first and second year's to get hands-on experience.
Throughout my time at Kellogg, my key focus was on working on my start-up. For me, it wasn’t about just studying for exams, I wanted to leave business school with a business plan. I leveraged every tool that Kellogg offered to start my business, and when I launched I did so with the support of the Kellogg community.
People always joke with me that I should change my CEO title to Chief Enthusiasm Officer. I have all the passion in the world, and it has really helped me develop my brand. I tell other entrepreneurs, if you can’t get excited about your own brand, then no one else will be able to either.
I often advise current Kellogg students to talk to as many people—business leaders and entrepreneurs— as you can. Anyone will talk to you when you are a student. After graduation, it’s much more difficult to get a meeting with leaders at large retailers, but as student, almost anyone was willing to speak with me and share insights.
Being a mother and an entrepreneur
There is no way to say what I am doing is easy. I have an infant and a toddler and I’m trying to scale a business—it is a lot. I want to normalize parents asking for support, and helping with their work-life balance has always been my main driving factor. Every time I want to throw up my hands and give up, I come back to my mission and vision and see the opportunity, and I know that I must continue to stay the course.
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