We just returned from Bloggy Conference (#bloggycon), which was held at the Hyatt in Downtown Cincinnati from Thursday September 27-Saturday September 29th. After doing a number of conferences this year, we have become used to large crowds, loud noises, and generally needing nothing shy of a full fireworks display to grab the attention of attendees. So, this conference was quite a welcome change up for Megan and I – as we shared the sponsorship space with only a handful of other great brands, and had time to speak with almost every attendee one on one. Wow. That’s a pretty amazing experience.
Don’t get me wrong – large conferences are great, and a lot of fun. But for a sponsor introducing a new company – or even a new product/brand – it is very important to make some sort of actual contact with people in order to tell them about what it is you are selling (or in our case giving away for FREE!). And even if there are a few thousand attendees at an event – you still can physically only talk to a certain amount. So at some point it does become more about the quality of the conversations than about the quantity of conversations – especially if that is what is important to you.
Our initial thoughts after leaving Cincinnati and BloggyCon? We felt that the interactions we had with attendees were possibly more valuable than other conferences we attended. This was because we had the chance to meet with tech savvy women (who also tend to be the mom-influencers within their social circles), and to walk them through how Hatchedit.com works. Additionally, we had time to ask each person about their blog, their life, their home situation so that we could show them different ways that Hatchedit.com might help make their life easier.
Homeschooling? Hatchedit.com is a great way to organize lesson plans and keep track of assignments and projects.
Special Needs Child? Coordinating doctors’ appointments is an enormous part of juggling those extra responsibilities. And for some of these moms – who are also businesswomen, they really need a tool that lets them manage their family schedules (including making changes) from the road. Once you show a mom how she can input information on her calendar or on a to do list of medicine dosages and know that grandma, or dad or the sitter who is at home will also see them – the smile on her face will light up your entire day.
Married? No Kids? Sometimes I feel bad about the fact that we target moms because it’s the user group that makes the most sense to reach first in getting our product out and into the public eye. We conceived of Hatchedit.com before Megan actually gave birth to her little Miss M – and she saw how it would fulfill a need in her life trying to coordinate her schedule with her husband’s. Instead of sending each other invitations to individual events (like the invitation to the Saturday golf she actually wasn’t really ever being invited to!) through Outlook (where you still can’t see your spouses calendar) they could have both populated the Hatchedit.com calendar and seen what the other had planned – and probably avoided a lot of arguments.
Not Married? No Kids? – We were able to speak with more than one person who wasn’t married – but as I like to point out – everyone has family somewhere. Realizing that a heavy travel schedule for work, might be something your mom may want to track even if she lives far away…or being able to see what siblings or nieces and nephews are up to can make people feel more connected to their families especially as we all feel like we are getting busier every day. Sending invitations and coordinating workouts or girls’ night out with friends is even easier if you are all sharing calendars!
Single Parent? Divorced? Chances are you are coordinating a custody schedule somewhere – and chances are even higher that custody schedule is causing a lot of unnecessary arguments. Being able to give another parent the ability to see what is going on in kids’ lives means there is no more “well your mother/father didn’t tell me about that” argument to be made. If your kids are older, and they have a Hatchedit.com account it also gives them the chance to be more proactive in managing a schedule between two households too.
At Bloggy Conference, with plenty of time to really delve into people’s lives I had conversations around each and every one of these situations. Those conversations also gave us some great ideas for other groups that might find a real niche use for Hatchedit.com
We really had a great time, and found enormous value in a user base that was so willing to listen to us, connect with us, and give us great feedback on what they need in their lives.
Thanks ladies of Bloggy Con!
Our attempt at catching the attention of families with some humor.
Never stop creating content that will get the attention of users. For a free site/free apps - the most important (and sometimes hardest) job is - Getting the word out.
Okay - I admit it - I was totally slacking.
Our FAQ page looked like CRAP. (I really should have taken a before picture). But TRUST me.
It was all WORDS!
I love words, but had I been a new user, I too would have thought - crap - if they have this much to tell me about how to use the site - I’m scared already.
In fact, according to our Google Analytics report an astounding 89% of new visitors DROPPED OFF the site after visiting the FAQ page.
So I spent the day doing a big revamp.
Now we SHOW - we Don’t tell.
I tried to keep it light. Fun. Pretty. Like our site.
I’m sure I can keep tweaking and improving it with time.
I’m also going to do a series of 30 second videos (30 seconds! that’s gonna be TOUGH!) and include those in different areas of the site when people might need to see all of the ways that they can leverage HATCHEDit.
Who says there is EVER a SLOW Time?
To See our FAQ page - go HERE
LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!
I Love Apple.
Except for when I hate Apple.
And right up until about 10pm yesterday I was HATING Apple. lol.
We have a beautiful app - and its been up and running on Android in its latest incarnation all month long - and Apple - took a FULL week to approve an upgrade that only added two things.
Anyway - its done. Its live. And I said a silent thank you last night to the Apple Employee who ushered the upgrade through and into the app store.
Onward and Upward!!! Our next integration I am TOTALLY stoked about. Hopefully it will start to roll out in 2 weeks.
I’m going to be back to lots of blog updates here. I feel like we’re really moving now!
COOKING WITH FIRE!!!
Well - its a damned good thing I stopped to smell the roses over the weekend at BlogHer - because this week the shit hit the fan in the personal aspects of my business life, and it feels like the whole world is collapsing around me.
Thankfully - that is not true.
Thankfully - our immediate reaction is never to give up - but to figure out how to best survive.
Thankfully - my family kicks ass.
But the reality is - my personal $$ flow is out. Nada. Nilch. Zippo. Zilch.
That’s a tough nut to face. I mean - if I were a twentysomething - I’d shrug it off, buy some Ramen and couch surf.
But I’m not 20. I’m 41. And my kid hates to couch surf even though - that looks to be exactly what we will do.
Wonder why there aren’t more women entrepreneurs out there?
Entrepreneurship has better results when you have experience.
When you have experience - you are older.
When you are older - you tend to have more responsibilities.
When you have responsibilities it is harder to look them in the eye and say - “no”.
So the shit has hit the fan.
But we will get through it. Things are really just starting to gel - so while I am crumbling a bit on the inside - it is not a full on meltdown - because as bad as it is - I feel crazy optimistic at what the future holds.
My kid on the other hand - who faces the prospect of switching schools 3 weeks before the fall semester may not be quite as optimistic as me.
But when I stated the obvious - “We are all healthy. We have each other. That is all we need to get by in this world” we both started to feel better.
Nobody said it was going to be easy. I never imagined it would get so hard.
We spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday at BlogHer 2012 and had a blast. But as a co-founder my favorite part by far was speaking to one in particular blogger. She came by about halfway through Saturday - and made me feel like a million bucks.
It was one of those moments that could have quickly passed by and not made an impact on me, but luckily, I realized how important it was.
Our conversation went a little something like this.
Her: This is such a fabulous idea - is this company yours?
Me: Yes, me and Megan founded it. We are sisters in law.
Her: That is so awesome. I’m so jealous. I really really really want to be able to chase a dream like that. Congratulations!!
We actually had quite a few women who cheered on our bid for success in the entrepreneurial race. But this woman was a designer, and we had a conversation that covered a few things - so her enthusiasm at the end was perhaps more out of the blue and rewarding than had it been the only thing we discussed.
In any case, at that moment I felt a bit “dead on my feet”. I was sick of smiling, my cheeks hurt, my brain hurt, I could hardly work up any spit into my mouth because it was so dry and no matter how many mints I popped it felt like I was still speaking with bad breath - so really - there is no better way to say - I had hit the wall - or as Megan says “The wheels are coming off the bus!!!”
And in that moment I realized “WAIT. This is really amazing. Its amazing to be here. Its amazing to be working my ass off for something that I own, and its amazing to be using 200% of my energy to try and accomplish goals and dreams that I have had to be my own boss for my entire life.”
So to that woman - thank you. Really. You re-energized me and gave me a special thing - the ability to stop for a moment, look around in the midst of all the craziness and say - This is really awesome.
Its funny. I have $40 to my name. I am completely exhausted. I haven’t vacuumed my apartment in weeks and I made my poor kid work the past two weekends in a row. But you know what? When I stop for a second? All I can think is: I lead a very charmed life. :)
Marissa Mayer is a great pick for Yahoo, and on top of that exciting information we found out that she is pregnant.
Awesome for her! Truly. Pregnancy - for anyone who has been through it (ME!) can be the best and the worst time of a person’s life. But - barring extreme medical conditions (which can happen to anyone at anytime anywhere) it has limited bearing on whether or not someone can successfully accomplish their professional commitments. (FYI my business partner Megan helped me launch this business from her sixth month of pregnancy through childbirth and the first months of her daughters life - ALL while also holding down a full time executive position at an investment firm - women can TRULY do Spectacular things).
Of course, pregnancy isn’t really the issue. I mean - out of sight, out of mind for most men (and that surprisingly includes a gigantic belly sticking out in front of you). Seriously - I did some of my own research - and found that SO FEW MEN give up their seats on the subway for pregnant women that it is ASTOUNDING.
Anyway - I am sure the concern isn’t whether or not Marissa can run a company now - the concern and the focus will be on whether or not she can run a company once her bundle of joy arrives. And, I’m sure there will be multiple articles on whether or not she deserves the company - or the bundle - because it seems as though the general consensus is that motherhood requires sacrifice, and too much business success means you aren’t sacrificing enough of one for the other. (Its way too crazy a thought that there are women who are so mentally superior to men that they could successfully run a business with anything less than 200% focus).
But PLEASE - for the LOVE OF GOD. DO NOT be the asshole who write’s the article “Can Marissa Mayer Have it All?” (I’m talking to you Freelance ladies aiming for choice real estate in The New York Times or The Atlantic Monthly).
Of course Marissa Mayer can have it all. She is smart, successful, young, and as far as we can tell has a supportive partner in life. She can hire a team of childcare experts to help raise her child, and she can certainly afford to make every ounce of her time away from Yahoo as easy as she pleases so that no extra energy is wasted not appreciating her family.
Let’s put it this way - should she choose - Marissa Mayer will not likely need to spend time out of the office worrying about how to balance the bills at home (starving Peter to pay Paul), or cleaning her bathrooms and doing 8 loads of laundry in a weekend, or clipping coupons to make ends meet while still putting groceries on the table.
Women - let’s stop doing ourselves a disservice by focusing on the the women who have every advantage life can give them in maintaining a successful work/life balance, and instead concentrate on the women who struggle each day to make ends meet to provide for their families - and do not have the LUXURY of deciding “maybe I’m working too hard, and not spending enough time with the kids”.
With wide swaths of women either raising children alone, or working long hours out of necessity (whether it be because they have a spouse that is unemployed, or underemployed, or for some reason cannot be employed) it is imperative that we ask ourselves why our own Government does not back women and make it illegal to pay them less than their male counterparts.
It will be interesting to learn what Mayer’s pay package will be. At that level of the game, one would hope that things are so public, and her level of intelligence so high that there will be no discrepancy between what she is being paid and what her male predecessors have been paid. However, when you are counting in the millions - little of that number will have an impact on her ability to “have it all”.
Take a woman who works just as many hours in a much lower position, and subtract $20,000 or $30,000 a year from what she would make as a man - and we start to see why the answer is no - the bulk of women will never have it all - because we have made it financially impossible for them to have it all.
But to the mainstream media - don’t you worry your pretty little talking heads over it - Marissa Mayer will be just a-okay.
Yahoo Chief’s s Challenge? Corner Office, New Baby.
By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER
Marissa Mayer has blazed trails in Silicon Valley — as Google’s first female engineer, as one of its most prominent executives when she oversaw its search business, and as a serious technologist who was also willing to show her feminine side.
Now she will blaze a new trail, as a pregnant woman taking the helm of a major public company….READ MORE»»
We pitched to Kraft at a startup pitch contest and were one of 4 firms invited to headquarters to meet with the rest of the team!
Its late and I am kind of totally pumped up.
We’ve had two conferences in a row that we’ve been lucky enough to attend. And part of that privilege means we have gotten to learn some really cool things - including information about Angel Investors.
Last week at the Princeton Marriott - there was an event sponsored by www.NJEN.com the New Jersey Entrepreneur Network - and invited entrepreneurs were able to mingle with about a dozen Angel Investors from the NY/NJ area. Part of the event included a five minute presentation by representatives of each Angel Network - all of whom spoke about what they are looking for in making investments.
The most important thing?
"Can You Deliver?"
Time and time again, the angel investors stood up and said, that the majority of their decisions to invest rested on their belief that the entrepreneur asking for funding would be able to deliver on their concept.
Much of the rest of the advice included a large dose of common sense.
1. Do your research.
Know what industries specific investors actively invest in. The majority of the investors speaking with us at the event are currently active in the medical and technology sectors.
2. Think like an investor.
When putting together your pitch, answer the questions that investors are going to ask. Know what their background is. Know what their expertise is, and think about what angle they are going to approach you in their line of questioning. Be able to tell them about the market you are targeting, how large it is, and perhaps most importantly: What problem you are solving for that market, and how/why you are going to do it better than the competition
3. Know about the funding trends in your sector
Interestingly, Angels are looking to invest in firms to get them to the next round. The next round is typically Venture Capital. If VC firms have backed off a specific area, and are not funding at historic rates, then angels - by necessity will also back off that area - because the numbers do not favor those investments reaching the next level.
4. Include your address and contact information on your pitch deck.
One angel investor pointed out how many times they receive pitch decks without this information. Typically entrepreneurs think that since they are sending a pitch deck via email that contact information is sufficient. But pitch decks are distributed, and not always with the original email. So it is important that there is a clear way to contact the entrepreneur.
5. Don’t burn your bridges
People can get angry. Funding periods can stretch out due to unforseen occurrences. When an entrepreneur needs money, and feels under the gun it is easy to grow impatient or even angry at a process that can suddenly seem longer or more complicated than you planned. Don’t let that frustration put you at a disadvantage. Even pitches that don’t wind up being funded can put you into contact with people who can offer you contacts to other angels. Remember that you never know what a team can do to help you, even if that help doesn’t come in the form of money that you were expecting to receive.
6. Network within the area that you are targeting
When you network with people in your industry - you may find that you can align yourself with a champion who knows you and believes in you and/or your idea. That sort of connection can make a world of a difference. Some areas where you might find a champion? Service providers. Networked introductions weigh more heavily to angel investors than cold calls. If you are having trouble reaching out to an angel investment group sometimes your lawyer, or accountant may be able to make that introduction for you.
7. Be enthusiastic.
Believe in yourself and your product, and that enthusiasm will draw investors in. As it was pointed out angels are investors not donors. They want to fund the dreams of entrepreneurs, but they are funding those dreams in the pursuit of profits. Your enthusiasm is one of the best ways to convince an angel that you are indeed the person that can deliver. And remember, enthusiasm doesn’t always mean being happy and joyous, it means having a passion about the space you are in, and being well read and knowledgeable about that space. If you know everything their is to know about your audience and your competition and you are driven enough to know potential pitfalls you will be able to answer all questions that investors can throw at you and show them that not only do you have a clear path to success, but that you can think on your feet, and realistically consider the eventual obstacles that every entrepreneur finds they have to out maneuver on the road to success.
This full post can be found on: NJTECHWEEKLY
I am co-Founder of www.Hatchedit.com, a free social network for families that officially launched in January 2012. Running a New Jersey-based tech startup with a bootstrapped budget often means facing difficult decisions regarding where and how to market our product. One such decision was whether or not to invest in an appearance at TechCrunch’s Disrupt NY Conference held earlier this month.
Because we are hoping to raise funding within the next 12 months TC Disrupt was one of the best options for announcing our existence to the tech and VC community. As a Startup Alley Exhibitor we pitched to attendees on Day 1 and were given passes to attend the panels and presentations on Day 2 and Day 3.
Overall, the experience was overwhelmingly positive, and we consider it an investment with an excellent return. We were lucky enough to be interviewed for TC tv, which has resulted in an uptick in subscriptions, and we also received positive feedback from attendees. In addition to making some (hopefully) valuable connections, we also gained some insights as to what works best for presenting to a crowd of peers and investors.
Read the full article HERE
We were so blown away by the results that we got advertising on StumbleUpon - that we couldn’t keep it to ourselves. We wrote about them in Forbes (HERE) and then were thrilled to contribute data so the company itself could do a case study.
CASE STUDY: Hatchedit Books New Users With StumbleUpon
StumbleUpon, Google and Facebook composed the marketing budget for the HatchedIt team. During the window from March 8-25, they allocated equally between StumbleUpon and Google, and half of the budget of each to Facebook. With each service, the team looked to target women who were 30+, seeking to hit the sweet spot with moms.
“As both an advertiser and a user of StumbleUpon, I believe that the mindset is what makes the difference in leveraging the StumbleUpon advertising platform,” says HatchedIt founding partner Kirsten Bischoff….Read Full Post HERE
How hard core am I? Two and a half weeks after major abdominal surgery I’ll be smiling and greeting people strolling through Startup Alley at TechCrunch’s Disrupt NYC 2012. Very exciting.
Last year, I was lucky enough to still be writing for a publication that let me get a press pass and go as an attendee. It was a great event. My favorite speaker by far was Roelef Botha, and I’m really eager to be able to overhear (from the alley) this year’s speakers.
We’ll get one day of being set up - and I still won’t be able to carry more than 5 lbs, so it’s not like I’m going to be lugging much more than my laptop, ipad and phone…but I’m really excited.
Hatchedit was really still a “dream” last year when I attended and its a huge accomplishment for us that in 12 months I’m able to return and show off a full working site, as well as our phone and tablet apps.
I tend to be the shyer of the two of us, and I would not be nearly so excited had I not already had the NAPO conference under my belt. Walking professional organizers through the site about 500 times over the two days that we were there was the perfect training ground for being a startup at Disrupt.
I’ll really miss my wingman Megan - but she’ll be in Texas speaking to some possible future partners, and this will make it our first official “divide and conquer” weeks as co-founders.
Now I just have to figure out what to wear. :)
Some of my pictures from last year…..
So every day there is a good dose of doubt in the mind of any entrepreneur. But then every now and then - if you are lucky - you get a day like we had today.
A few months ago Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine contacted us and asked for some artwork. It was a lot to hope for - and we held our breaths for a while - but then today I ran out to Barnes and Noble and there we are! Page 22. Listed under “May Cravings” section - for SURF IT! They listed us as a great site!
This is so amazing because we were starting to feel like the only way to get any press was to pay for it. And we haven’t really been out there pitching the site either - frankly we’ve just been too busy trying to cover all of the other bases (customer service, conferences, marketing, meetings, site changes, etc).
So when this happened - it was sort of overwhelming because we didn’t pitch them, we didn’t pay for the coverage - it was just that someone liked us and decided to recommend us - and that is the exact kind of vote of confidence that can bolster us through the next month of daily self-doubting. lol.
But really. It’s amazing. I’m on an adrenaline high. WOOT! WOOT!
We are trying to put together a Board of Directors and so we had a great lunch with one of the people whom we hope will be working closely with us to grow the company. It’s very exciting stuff - he is a smart guy, and will (I am sure) make us work even harder than we already are to produce the information that will be necessary to get us to the next level as a firm.
Lunch was awesome. Lots of discussion, lots of debate. Thrilling.
What else is new? Not much. We should have our iPad app out soon. And our daily email information should be going out to users any day now too. We have some other things in the pipeline that we have given the go ahead on and I can’t wait for those to be rolled out either.
I’ll be out of commission the week after next for about 2 weeks - so hopefully the build out of our site additions will go seamlessly during that time - and when I’m back on my feet we can spend the entire summer - on the GO GO GO!
Summer will be a big push for users however we can get them, and will reach its peak (hopefully) at the BlogHer conference - which is super thrilling - and we hope to have something really exciting to announce there. Okay - that’s all for now. :) Send me good karma on May 2 if anyone out there reads this - I’ll be needing it.