Charlotte Michailidis of Parenthood Ventures on fueling the next wave of innovation for early stage ParentTech
Describe your business in a few words?
Parenthood Ventures is the founder ecosystem for early stage ParentTech – i.e., startups serving parents, from fertility to teens.
Companies in our community span sub-sectors like caregiving, employee benefits, food, physical goods, digital health, retail, clothing, education, media/entertainment and fintech.
The objective is to fuel the next wave of innovation, for a new paradigm of parents and their little ones – via networking opportunities and content tailored to the needs of ParentTech founders, a directory of investors interested in the space, and engagement of parents themselves.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
Frustration with the tech-enabled products and services serving parents (and aspiring parents), and their children .
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I was an early employee at a YC-backed startup, and have a Harvard MBA. My career before that was in business strategy consulting, with a focus on tech and media.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
My strategy since the outset has been to focus on listening, rather than marketing: Meeting founders, incubator operators, VCs, leaders at established companies in the sector, and most importantly, a diverse group of parents. These conversations have been critical in understanding how to unlock the potential of this sector, and have also enabled us to grow organically through word-of-mouth via our champions in each of these groups..
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Building Parenthood while expecting, delivering and now raising my coronababy! Most of our teams (83%) have at least one parent founder, and at least one female founder (80%). It helps that I’ve stood in their shoes on this journey too!
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
I always ask what the interviewee’s long term career goals and aspirations are. It makes for a more fulfilling experience not only to leverage the things the applicant is great at today, but also to support them in developing new skills, or coaching them through things they might have previously struggled with. Asking the question up front not only helps you understand who they are, it builds trust that you will be invested in helping them become who they want to be.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
The acute challenges of juggling children and work during COVID have pushed many young families to the limit. And it has been a very difficult time for under-represented founders to raise venture capital, which tends to stick to seemingly “safer” bets in times of uncertainty.
Two silver linings are that parent consumers and businesses serving parents have seen a rapid shift to online offerings, even in sectors historically slow to embrace change (e.g., pediatric telehealth). It has also become exponentially easier for founders to schedule meetings and raise funding from home – which is hugely beneficial for our founder group, who often live outside silicon valley / NYC.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
We are constantly exploring new ways we can build a better version of parenthood – for all types of family, and engage parents in the process.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
That you can develop really warm and meaningful relationships via zoom!
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
Not to overthink things up front. It’s good to build out some initial hypotheses, but beyond that it’s all about experimenting, asking for advice, feeling your way through.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Quarantining with a toddler, while having a new baby helped keep it real!
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
The answer to this depends on your work style, and role. I have lots of meetings and need a quiet place to focus on other tasks – so I schedule out my calendar around naps and feedings. I can’t juggle work and children in the same moment, but working from home means there’s no wasted time commuting between them. I love the RBG quote that each brings respite from the other.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m British! The founding story of Parenthood stems from my experiences & frustrations as a dual career family in San Francisco, but I’m originally from the UK.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
- Drink a lot of tea (haha, yeah, I’m really that British).
- I default to 15 minute chats. Meetings have a way of always taking as long as you booked, and it’s kinder on the other person’s schedule. You can always find more time another day, and checking in little and often can be a good way to build rapport.
- Close the door. Crank through work in a quiet place (or at night), not in the middle of the kitchen.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
It means forging your own path. Forging an entrepreneurial journey with a twist.