Mamaprenista and AI Expert, Monica Banks, on Launching Gugu Guru


Hi Monica! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business:

Launched in 2015, my company is Gugu Guru. Gugu Guru started out as an AI-driven baby product recommendation site. Over the years, it became clear that moms don’t want recommendations from AI, they want recommendations from other moms. In 2020, I started to pivot the business in that direction and in January 2022, I dropped the AI and launched Mom Creators by Gugu Guru. Mom Creators is the largest community of moms creating and sharing content about the products they love. We connect mom creators with brands and help them monetize their influence.

So Monica, what excites you about being an Entreprenista League member?

Networking. Meeting other inspirational women. I love meeting other women business owners & entrepreneurs and collaborating.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

The birth of my son. At the time, I was working as a VP for a large branding & marketing agency in New York City but as soon as I laid eyes on my son, I knew I wanted to create a career path where I could stay with him.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

My background is a mixed bag of market research, tech & software marketing and then toward the latter part of my career, extensive experience in brand & packaging design.

Did you always have a feeling that one day you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I wouldn’t say that – in fact, as a kid I wanted to be an actress and that was my minor in college. With that in mind, it doesn’t surprise me that I love being a content creator so much.

An initial marketing strategy is so important when first spreading the word about your biz. 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?

When I launched in 2015, it was still a world of bloggers and giveaways, so I would say that was the bulk of my marketing strategy. I am still bootstrapped to this day, so I didn’t have any real budget for paid collabs or ads. Working with bloggers / influencers has always been key to our organic growth, especially our celebrity connections. I would say that giveaways are dead now and were hit or miss back then. We got a lot of “sweepers” signing up for our giveaways, which often made the lists less quality. Those people only wanted to win things.

Entreprenistas have to be resilient. What is the biggest challenge you have encountered along the way and what did you learn from it?

The writing was on the wall from the beginning. Moms were telling me that they enjoyed the recommendations as “thought starters” but they were really coming to Gugu Guru for the content. My biggest challenge was walking away from the AI model. I spent years building it, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on that model and even tried (fruitlessly) to patent it. In the years before I pivoted, I was always trying so hard to hold on to a piece of it but it was confusing to my team and to our customers. What I learned is that when I finally cut that piece loose and made the decision to pivot entirely, it was such a relief. I didn’t realize how much stress trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole was causing me. As soon as I let go, things started falling into place. It is one thing to provide baby registry recommendations to a mom, but it is next level rewarding to do what I am doing now – which is help moms to create a career for themselves.

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

Our community of Mom Creators – since launching we’ve grown to over 10,000 influential moms, experts, mom UGC creators and influencers.

Monica and her two children.

We all want to believe in work life balance…but sometime it seems like a distant fantasy. Do you actually believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

Balance is in the eye of the beholder. What I view as balance may be off-kilter to another mom. Here are my best tips:

1.Set app limits on my phone (60 min total for social media)

2. Go for a walk every day without your phone and let your mind wander

3. Set downtime on my phone from 9pm-5am

4. Don’t request or accept Zoom calls unless 100% certain can’t be done by phone

5. Keep phone & charger out of the bedroom

6. Say “no” to any activity that doesn’t get you closer to your goals

7.Schedule fun family activities frequently

What’s a piece of advice you can share that you wish you’d known when you first started your Entreprenista journey?

Clarity is everything. Clarity is kindness. Anyone you hire, work with, collaborate with, etc. make sure that everyone is clear on expectations and goals. Communicate frequently. The more you’re open, honest and clear, the better the partnership will be. The conversations will be easier – especially if someone isn’t a fit.

Monica, you have lots to celebrate! What have you achieved recently that you’d like to celebrate with our community?

I partnered with another mom founder, and we’re building the first-ever performance based / affiliate platform for brands that want to market to moms.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

Our goal is to help 1,000,000 moms become paid creators so we will be laser focused on that for the next few years.

Learn more about the Entreprenista League and join today!

Share it!

Posted in

Leave a Comment

Kickstarting Your Business Success for 2024

“You’ll know when or where you can spend that money, so make a plan.” Are you ready to take your business to new heights in the upcoming year? In this episode of Startups and Stilettos, your hosts Carlyn Bushman and Stephanie Cartin reveal their keys to successful business planning and growth for the new year. Discover…

How Sallie Krawcheck Is Redefining Women’s Wealth with Ellevest

“Risk-averse means you don’t want to take a risk; risk-aware means you’re willing to take it if you understand it.” – Sallie Krawcheck Sallie Krawcheck is the visionary CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, an innovative investment platform focused on empowering women financially. Since its creation in 2014, under Sallie’s leadership, Ellevest has achieved remarkable milestones,…

Meredith LeJeune on Launching Thought Bubble Communications to Elevate Minority-Owned Businesses

Hi Meredith! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: My name is Meredith LeJeune, an 18-year, award-winning public relations industry veteran, and I have developed and executed high-impact media relations campaigns. Throughout my career, I’ve served on the board of directors of journalism and public relations organizations, been recognized as one of…

Grants You Need to Apply to For Your Business!

American Dream Grant Who can apply? All for-profit businesses operating in the United States. What you could receive: $1,000 Deadline: April 30, 2024 HerRise MicroGrant Who can apply? Women of Color creating innovative solutions that impact their community and that are often unable to secure funding for their small business. What you could receive: $1,000…

The Art of Education Through Performance with Meirav Zur

“It’s not to learn one thing, it’s try to learn as much as you can, so you can see what works for you.” – Meirav Zur In this episode of Startups in Stilettos, we delve into the remarkable journey of Meirav Zur, a multi-talented creative – actor, producer, and writer who is particularly passionate about improvisation,…

Samonee K., Founder of Argos Vibes, on Providing Strategic Mentorship to Other Entreprenistas Around the World

Hello Samonee! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Hello I’m Samonee K., and my lifelong passion has always been business strategy and development. I find joy in helping individuals uncover their path to building purpose-driven enterprises, doing what they love, and making a meaningful impact. Through Argo Vibes, my platform, I…

Lessons and Insights from Dr. Bre Hayward: Founder of Baby Hair™

Hello Bre! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Greetings! I am Dr. Bre Hayward, an entrepreneurial spirit, strategist, and mentor with a passion for innovation and positive impact. At the helm of Baby Hair™, a luxury hair care brand, I am dedicated to redefining excellence in the industry through a commitment…

Using Customer Feedback To Fuel Product Innovation with Jordan Engelhardt

“The power of e-commerce and the power of the small businesses is now, and not just in the hands of the bigger companies, so go for it and make it happen.” – Jordan Engelhardt In this episode of Entreprenista, we are joined by Jordan Engelhardt, the Founder and President of Skinny Mixes LLC, the brand…

Moving Forward From Major Milestones In Business with Carlyn Bushman

“I cannot stress enough the importance of networking, and really go narrow and deep. I think we get to the point where we sign up for so many things when you go wide and shallow. It’s really hard to measure what you’re getting out of that particular networking group.” – Carlyn Bushman Before she was your…

The Entreprenista Holiday Gift Guide: Inspirational, Functional, and Splurge-Worthy Gifts for the Women in Your Life

Our Entreprenistas are all about celebrating strong women. Come holiday time, we want to help you shop for the amazing women in your life—the businesswomen, the mothers, the sisters, the daughters, the caregivers, and the friends—with gift options that will leave them feeling empowered, inspired, pampered, or relaxed (or maybe all of the above!). We…

The Best (and Most Thoughtful) Gifts for Kids in 2023

Shopping for kids can be fun, but it can also be overwhelming. With so many toys, games, and cute children’s clothes on the market, how do you pick the perfect present? Something that is quality-made? Something that they’ll actually use? Perhaps something that will stimulate their minds and help them grow? Well, we can help…

The Future of Healthcare with Ellen DaSilva Founder of Summer Health

“Get honest and direct feedback. So if something is not working, something’s not landing, you’re getting no’s from people, and you’re trying to understand why, absorb what the feedback is, but be true to yourself because people want to invest in honesty. People want to invest in authenticity.” – Ellen DaSilva Ellen DaSilva is the…

BONUS EPISODE: Entreprenistas IN Fertility- Navigating Infertility during the holidays

“This is no small thing. It’s okay to not be okay. Talk to your team about it.” Hey, everyone, it’s Stephanie here! Whether you’re simply family planning, or you’re experiencing infertility challenges, something that I learned firsthand through my battle with infertility, is how important it is to have the knowledge and information needed to…

Building Credibility Around Your Business with Adria Marshall

“I really didn’t want to start my own brand. I just wanted products that worked…So it’s just solving this puzzle, which is great as an entrepreneur, because that’s what it is every day – solving a new mystery.” – Adria Marshall Adria Marshall is the founder of Ecoslay, a plant-based hair-care product brand for textured hair…

Kate Isler on Directing Online Shoppers Towards Women Owned Business Through WMarketplace

Hi Kate! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: I Co-founded a non-profit organization, Be Bold for Change, several years ago to celebrate and support women and girls several years ago. I was hosting the 2020 International Women’s Celebration in Seattle, just a few days before the world shut down for Covid-19.…