What motivated you to create the app Peanut?
I started Peanut out of a couple of frustrations. Before I had my son, Fin, I felt like I was completely prepared. I bought the products and read the books, but it turns out that having a baby isn’t just about planning. I had lots of friends and was successful professionally, and yet when I was home with my newborn, it felt isolating at times. My friends weren’t yet at the stage where they were having kids, so I found myself browsing outdated, anonymous blogs for baby advice at 2 am, while my girlfriends were out in clubs. I was also surprised to find that when I became a mother, there weren’t any modern tech products to help make the process of finding information or meeting like-minded and nearby mamas more accessible. I was used to using beautifully designed apps for every other aspect of my life, so it was shocking having to revert to products for motherhood that had an outdated, old-fashioned and patronizing feel to them. I created Peanut to connect like-minded women who are mothers and provide a safe platform for mothers to ask questions, share learnings and be heard in a meaningful way.
And why the name “Peanut?”
That’s what I called my bump when I was first pregnant! To me, Peanut will always be dedicated to my son (no pressure but I have to make it a success now)!
How did you take the concept of Peanut and turn it into an app?
I suppose it was an evolution. Taking the idea—the concept of connecting like-minded women and modernizing the experience of motherhood—and then being methodical. What would the product do? How? What team would I need to achieve that? How much money would I need to raise? How would I market the product so that women understood the brand narrative and the mission? Once I found the team I needed I started fundraising. I used my own money initially, and then the money from investors to build the product. I tested the product with as many women as I could, asking for thoughts, feedback and advice—not just to test the product functionality, but to ensure it was resonating, so that those women would be our natural ambassadors of the product when the time came to release it!
The VC and tech industries are primarily male-dominated. What was it like pitching a female-focused app to investors?
It was challenging. That’s the only way to describe it. Truly. There is a level of fatigue you experience when explaining why this is an important product and why mothers are an important market (let’s be real, they’re spending trillions of dollars, that is no joke). I suppose the reality is that there is a level of required education surrounding pitching female consumer products because, for the large majority, you are pitching to men. That said, I am fortunate enough that I have some incredible female investors, too. All of a sudden the pressure is released a little, because that level of education is no longer necessary and you can immediately start digging into the product, into the opportunity.
What are your top three tips for women entrepreneurs looking to break into the tech industry?
- Research your market. Know everything about your market—from size and opportunity to competitive landscape and what your moat is—and then learn it, because you’re going to be challenged.
- Do not let your gender be an issue. Don’t think about it. Go in, pitch your product, be confident because you’ve researched your market, and do not let anything stand in your way.
- Be persistent. Not everyone has to like your business for it to be a brilliant one. If you have done your research and you have a brilliant product, then you will win. You don’t need everyone to agree—just the ones who really do and are going to be with you all the way.
What do you think needs to be done in order to get more women in tech roles?
The reality is we can only be what we can see. If we can’t see more diversity, we will struggle to hire accordingly. So what do we need? We need more opportunities, we need more women championing other women when they see talent, and we actually need companies and investors agreeing that they will actively look for women talent, as opposed to passively receive it. It’s not enough to say you want to change things, we need people to take actions to show it.
How have your experiences as a lawyer, tech CEO, and mother helped you as an entrepreneur?
I suppose all of these experiences make me who I am. I am methodical and logical as a lawyer. As a CEO I think and dream big. As a mother, I’ve learned to be more empathetic and patient and to listen more. What is really important is that I am still learning how to be an entrepreneur. There is no right way, we’re all learning, and that means lots of self-reflection and support from others.
How are women connecting through the app? Do you have any favorite success stories?
So many incredible ways. It’s so exciting and thrilling to see. From meeting up to starting businesses together. From sharing childcare to sharing their children’s first birthday having met a year ago on the app. It’s incredible to witness. When I see women having conversations on Peanut Pages surrounding their concerns or worries and other users picking them up, supporting them, telling them how wonderful a job they’re doing—well, that is success to me.
Tell us more about the app’s “Pages” feature…
It has never been more important for women to feel that they have a platform for their voice to be heard. Peanut Pages is a way for us to really facilitate those conversations, for every mama to have a voice, to have support, and to do so in a technologically smart way—mamas deserve that.
It has never been more important for women to feel that they have a platform for their voice to be heard.
What’s next for Peanut?
We are continuing to evolve Peanut, which has become a platform for mamas to talk about every aspect of motherhood—from breastfeeding in public to sex after having a baby. We are committed to evolving the conversation around motherhood and creating a safe space for women to share experiences and ask questions.
Your top three favorite apps for women in business (aside from Peanut of course!)?
- Calm (to help me sleep)
- Slack (to keep me connected to the team)
- FaceTime (every traveling, working mom’s lifeline)
Who is the woman in your life that inspires you to #EmbraceAmbition? Why?
My mother. She wanted me to do everything she couldn’t (she left home and her country at a young age). My mother has always taught me to work hard, fear nothing, and believe I can do anything. She’s a constant source of wonder to me. I work hard every day so that I don’t let her down, and so that I can show my own son that hard work and a touch of feeling the fear and doing it anyway can really pay!