Hi Sara! Can you tell us about your company, Winnie?
Winnie helps parents find great places to go and things to do with their children. It answers basic questions like “is there a changing table in the bathroom?” and “where’s a comfortable place to nurse a baby?” to more complex questions like “where should I send my child to school?” and even existential questions like “what should I do with my family this weekend?”
Winnie is almost a year old. Can you share any tips for Tech Ladies who are about to launch their own business?
Anne Halsall and I started Winnie in January 2016 and launched the product in June of the same year. The thing that worked for us was to start with a problem we genuinely had. This gave us product-market fit from the get-go. We wanted something like Winnie to exist in the world, and it didn’t, so we built it.
Winnie’s mission is to build technology to help make the job of caring for children easier. Up until now, no tech companies have worked on this problem because no one thought it was a problem. People has overlooked the work that caregivers do because historically this work has been done by women.
I’d encourage Tech Ladies who are thinking of starting their own companies to look to their own experience for ideas. There may be a massive opportunity hiding right under your nose. Also validate your idea early on with a diverse group of customers. Not only is this good product practice but it will you a stronger position when pitching investors & partners.
What are some challenges you face when developing tech for parents?
Building for parents is a challenge because all parents are different. We realized pretty early on that what is important to one parent may not be important to another. Some parents love to find free activities, and others don’t mind shelling out the big bucks for a class. Some parents are full-time caregivers and others work. Some families live in cities and others live in suburbs or rural areas. Because we want our product to be useful to all parents, we’ve had to collect vast amounts of data and enable parents to easily find what they’re looking for. We looked to our experience building at scale at previous tech companies like Twitter and Quora.
However, one thing that we’ve found pretty universal across all parents is that they genuinely want to help other parents. The stories and tips people add to Winnie are generally really high quality and useful. That’s one big difference I’ve noticed between Winnie and other platforms that rely on user-generated content. It’s really rewarding to work on a product where your audience also cares deeply about making the product great.