A clear and realistic presentation helped online startup weeSpring claim the top prize at Crain's Perfect Pitch competition at Columbia Business School last Friday.
I don’t have a platform like Amy Poehler, or a super cool award to dedicate, but I do have a day coming up (thank you, Hallmark) that is celebrated in my honor. And I’m fully ready to admit that I wouldn’t be one-tenth of the good mother (I hope) I am without the support and love that Liliana, my son’s caregiver, brings to our family each day.
Much has been said and written about the lack of women in the tech sector, be it as investors (or associates), founders or in management positions at major companies. Is the problem the old boys network – or that success in technology is seen as a young man’s game? In this series, we speak with New York-based women in the industry as they discuss the challenges they face, the perceptions that need to be changed and the work that’s being done – or not – to help to promote women in tech.
weeSpring was born out of a personal pain point. Co-founder Allyson Downey found herself in tears at a Baby’s “R” Us when she was pregnant with her first child, overwhelmed by the variety and her unfamiliarity with the brands.
It doesn’t matter that humans have been procreating for some 200,000 years with relative success. In the months leading up to childbirth, expecting parents are still stricken with fear over whether they’ll somehow screw it up.
I was completely wrong about most of the things I was certain of when I was 23. Like wanting to be a novelist. And the (train wreck of a) guy I thought I'd wind up marrying. More than anything, though, I believed professional success was all about merit and hard work. Here's a really important lesson: It's not.
"Someone told me recently, 'Any time I'm talking to someone who doesn't work for me already, I'm evaluating if I should try and hire them.' Whether that's someone you want to hire tomorrow or someone you'd like to work with in five years depends on your company, but every entrepreneur should always be recruiting."
When startup weeSpring was in TechStars, the team had what founder Allyson Downey calls a "family therapy" session with well-known investor Brad Feld. "Everyone on your team should go sit alone and for 15 minutes and write down [your company values] on a piece of paper," Downey remembers Feld saying, "because if you just start it as a live conversation, the extroverts win and the introverts don't jump in and you don't hear from everybody."
Ally Downey talks to JWT about the deep user engagement of parents, attracting fathers in a mother-dominated space, and the startup’s plans to dive into big data and mobile.