How Allison and Gregory Robinson Raised $11 Million For “The Mom Project”

It all started with a surprising statistic.

Once we had our first son, my spouse Allison used to be on maternity go away from her function as a Proctor & Gamble government. She used to be comparing what going again to paintings would seem like as a mom. She stumbled throughout a Harvard Trade Overview find out about that discovered that 43 % of college-educated girls who’ve kids “off-ramp” from the body of workers solely.
That used to be the unique perception that led Allison to discovered The Mother Challenge, a virtual skill market and group that connects proficient girls (and males) with global magnificence employers that perceive paintings/lifestyles stability.

We wish to be extra considerate about paintings and parenthood. We wish to allow a continual revel in so mothers (and dads) don’t need to take a step again or “choose out” in the event that they take a ruin from their profession for parenting.

The firms on our platform be offering two key issues: flexibility (thru non-traditional schedules or work-from-home days, as an example) and admire. You’ll convey up circle of relatives in an interview and now not really feel prejudice. Your supervisor and the manager workforce beef up that you just similarly prioritize your circle of relatives in your paintings.

We introduced in April 2019 in Chicago. It’s been a hectic three years. Now we have 100,000 girls on our platform and over 1,000 employers, 50 of which might be Fortune 1000 firms.

I’ve been at The Mother Challenge because the starting, as the manager monetary and running officer. In our first 12 months, although I had extra fundraising revel in, I actively took a again seat. This can be a mission-based industry, and Allison is the face of it. There couldn’t be a greater face and a greater consultant for this undertaking.

Up to now, we’ve raised two rounds of investment. We did our seed spherical in the beginning of 2019, totaling simply over $2.5 million. In December of that 12 months we introduced our Sequence A, which introduced in about $8 million. So we raised $11 million in general — all prior to now 15 months.

Right here’s how we did it.

1. Bootstrap in the course of the ‘first-time founder wait’
We didn’t take part in an accelerator program. The primary two years of the industry, we ran rather lean. We had the power to fund ourselves for a time period.

Once we got here to marketplace, the Chicago Tribune wrote a industry web page duvet tale about us. We signed with undertaking companies inside our first six months. We had traction. However industry traction and talent to boost price range on your first 12 months don’t essentially correlate.

We firstly deliberate to boost an angel spherical a lot previous, however we encountered a couple of hurdles.

You’ll’t underestimate the “first-time founder wait,” particularly for early buyers who’re truly having a bet on a founder. There’s an unquestionable distinction between effectively working a industry and the power to grit thru and develop one from not anything. It’s laborious for buyers to judge that.

A circle of relatives industry is an uncertainty for an early investor as neatly. They’ve a components: what number of possibility components can I regulate? They know startups are a grind. It’s going to be truly laborious earlier than it’s excellent. Including a circle of relatives dynamic on best of that? Other people get squeamish about it.

There are such a large amount of examples of ways circle of relatives makes a startup more potent, regardless that. A robust partnership and mutual agree with is a bonus. I believe us to be in that latter camp. However beginning a industry in combination should be pragmatic about those components.

Any other issue used to be that our product is folks. We had respectable era however we weren’t making an investment tens of millions in it. We’re a transformative market excited by undertaking gross sales. Challenge buyers are predominantly era buyers.

It used to be laborious for buyers to quantify simply one or two excellent contracts — $50,000 from an undertaking buyer may just quadruple our earnings in a 12 months and make the expansion chart glance extraordinary. However that’s now not all it’s going to take to be triumphant. So we needed to end up out our product. It ended up taking just a little bit extra time than we expected.

2. To find buyers who change into shoppers
A few of our earliest commitments got here from corporate-backed price range, fairly than regular tech price range. Interact Ventures in Atlanta is the primary Fortune 1000-backed mission fund, with companions like Delta, House Depot, AT&T and Georgia Pacific. They put money into cutting edge companies, however they have a tendency to select firms they envision the usage of.
Any other investor used to be BBG Ventures in New York, a perfect seed fund run via Susan Lyne (founding father of Premiere Mag, former CEO of Martha Stewart Omnimedia and Gilt.com).
Once we started to boost cash within the Chicago ecosystem, we have been fortunate sufficient to get Irish Angels concerned — Notre Dame’s alumni funding fund, run via some extremely sensible girls.

3. Develop strategically and sustainably
From elevate to boost, we grew about 350 %. We have been ready to do it in a sustainable method, rising month over month fairly than spiking revenues sporadically.

Buyers care about liquidity, which is the stability of what number of consumers and dealers you might have. So we have been considerate when using new firms to the platform that they have been founded the place a lot of people want to paintings. To start with, it used to be Chicago. After the seed, we have been ready to amplify to Atlanta and San Francisco. After we had three markets appearing neatly, we have been ready to take your next step towards larger investments.

The lead buyers in our Sequence A spherical have been Initialized Capital — based via Garry Tan and Alexis Ohanian — and Grotech Ventures, a perfect store founded out of Washington, D.C. They’re an overly disciplined, opportunistic company that truly favored the marketplace and we attached with them instantly.

4. Know your promoting issues
Staffing firms generally open bodily places of work to serve a marketplace. However that style is useless, personally. Going to a staffing place of job shouldn’t be how pros have interaction with alternatives now. We achieve out to them on Fb and LinkedIn. We paintings thru referrals. We have been ready to develop a market simply thru virtual and social media somewhat briefly. It’s a bonus for us. We will be able to evaluation opening markets or following main shoppers in an agile method.

This present day price range truly care about what you’re fixing. Is that this a precious comfort play, or is that this one thing that may support the sector we are living in? Individuals who put money into marketplaces and HR tech know the way paintings is reworking. The gig economic system is a big theme for numerous price range. Plus, we are living in a global this is extra conscious about the demanding situations round gender, ethnicity and disabilities. The overall pattern to check out fixing those issues performed in our desire as neatly.

Many CEOs now make range pledges. Their companies are running to fulfill large goals like “gender parity via 2025.” That created a courting of mutual get advantages and helped us develop.

5. Perceive investor dynamics
Whilst you’re elevating previous, it’ll take longer. If it occurs truly briefly, be grateful however cautious. Buyers who lend cash briefly would possibly lock onto what I love to name a false consensus — one thing they believe makes the industry paintings, however perhaps it’s now not the larger alternative.

The largest factor about elevating cash isn’t working out of time. Working out your money drift is so vital.

I didn’t totally respect the trouble of elevating the primary rounds. Angel and seed buyers are on the lookout for validation. They truly get at ease when a “tremendous angel” writes a $100,000 take a look at or makes an advent.

It wasn’t till Eddie Lou, the founding father of Shiftgig, some other skill market founded in Chicago, joined our board and helped keep in touch what we have been doing to the funding group, that we truly began to take off.

If we can have gotten that roughly individual within the combine previous, issues would possibly have took place extra briefly.

Subsequent, know that enlargement is 1000 pivots. Our general technique hasn’t truly modified because the day we began the industry. However how we were given there advanced as we discovered alongside the way in which.

First of all, we concept The Mother Challenge would center of attention at the go back to paintings target market: the 10 million knowledgeable girls now not lately collaborating within the body of workers.

However then as we have been working the industry, we noticed that greater than two-thirds of customers on our platform are lately within the body of workers. So this isn’t near to bringing folks again in, regardless that it’s a crucial piece of what we do. It’s truly about fixing better [work-life balance] subjects for a broader target market.

One remaining piece of recommendation: when running along with your partner, don’t run the similar portions of the industry. Have transparent lanes.