In Conversation with Allison Kasirer of Robyn
Describe your business in a few words?
Robyn connects aspiring, expecting and new parents with parental wellness providers, resources and classes for their unique path to parenthood.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
Robyn was born out of my own personal fertility journey. After countless procedures, false hopes, negative pregnancy tests and a sea of unanswered questions, I didn’t see failure, I saw an opportunity. Instead of giving up, I took matters into my own hands, learning all I could about managing my stress and taking better care of my body. Having this newfound experience, I set out on a mission to make sure no other aspiring, expecting or new parent ever felt as alone and confused as I once did on my own path to parenthood.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
My work experience was in finance. For eight years, I worked at J.P. Morgan’s Corporate & Investment Bank. In terms of my educational background, I studied Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
In my middle school yearbook (almost exactly 20 years ago), I predicted that in 20 years I would be a CEO. I don’t think I imagined it being at a company that I created, but there was always that drive and ambition to be a leader and a creator.
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?
In the beginning, our marketing approach was much more organic and less intentional than maybe other brands might’ve been. We really set out to be a conversation changer on fertility, pregnancy, postpartum and parenthood, and we did that on social media by talking about highly stigmatized topics like miscarriage and loss, postpartum depression, etc. Our growth was a direct result of people who could relate to our raw, real content, and feel less alone in what they were going through on their own path to parenthood. We focused mostly on user generated content––sharing fertility, pregnancy, postpartum, and parenthood journeys from real women and families. Over time, we’ve layered in the expert content from our network of parental wellness providers like doulas, lactation consultants, mental health professionals and more.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
Early on in the business, I tried to do everything myself. I stretched myself too thin and found myself running parts of the business that were either not in my zone of genius or didn’t bring me joy. I realize now the importance of team, even in an early stage business where there might not be a real hiring budget.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Taking the negative experience I had during my own fertility journey, shifting the perspective, and using it as an outlet to help and inspire others.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
“How do you champion reproductive justice in your personal or professional life?” Our mission is our north star: making parental wellness and education accessible to all. 89% of mothers don’t feel supported by society. We, as women in the US today, are 50% more likely to die from childbirth-related causes than our mothers were. For women of color, that maternal mortality rate is 3-4x that of a white woman. According to the March of Dimes, the US is the fourth most dangerous country in the world to give birth. If someone doesn’t resonate or believe in this mission for reproductive justice, they’re not a good fit for Robyn.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
COVID-19 had dramatically impacted both our community of women and families and our community of wellness providers. Aspiring, expecting and new parents have been in crisis. At the start of the pandemic, fertility cycles were canceled, partners and support people were banned from labor and delivery, postpartum and new parents couldn’t have in-person support. Virtual care and education is one of the only outlets for support right now. For parental wellness providers within our network (150), they have been trying to migrate their businesses to digital and we’re trying to help them do that while also helping to grow their practices.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
Robyn is your true partner on your path to parenthood. You are Batman – We are Robyn. A place where you can find expert resources and classes, book services with vetted providers, and potentially purchase products from parent-centric brands.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
Life is short. Be present and find joy.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
I wish I knew that my entrepreneurial journey would be similar to my fertility journey: a roller coaster ride with high highs and low lows. Resilience, community, and partnership have been critical to finding purpose and joy on this ride.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I do believe in work/life balance because I believe in the power of choice. I get to choose when I put the phone down. I get to choose to take a mental health/vacation day. I get to choose to work late one night if it means meaningful work that will drive the business forward. When someone says they don’t “believe” in work/life balance, I often think that person may be surrendering to other people’s expectations and not standing in their power to choose how to spend their most precious resource, time. I recognize that perspective comes with a certain amount of privilege and may not apply in all circumstances.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
As a solo female founder, I raised our first round of venture funding when my three kids were all under the age of three. Only 2% of venture dollars go to female founders, so I am incredibly proud that I was able to secure funding for the business with such young kids at home.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
1. Be present. Worrying about the future or dwelling on the past can make it impossible to stay productive.
2. Set boundaries. Turn off Slack, text messages and email if you need to go deep on a project.
3. Be in control of your most precious resource, time. I actively manage and optimize my calendar to stay focused and productive.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
An Entreprenista is a creator. She’s channeled this creativity towards a new business, product, movement, nonprofit, etc. She is an active participant in creating the world she envisions.