Michelle Obama hit the nail on the head this week when she said, “That whole ‘so you can have it all.’ Nope, not at the same time. That’s a lie. And it’s not always enough to lean in, because that s–t doesn’t work all the time.”
As the former First Lady so eloquently points out, being a working parent is sometimes really tough. Being a working parent without a strong support network (and keeping your sanity intact) is even tougher. You’re stretched thin trying to be a good parent, a good employee, and a good spouse – or at least just someone who isn’t yelling all the time.
Imagine having a safe and reliable resource of carers on call that you could reach out to in an emergency, for ongoing help, or if you just want to book a babysitter for those all elusive date nights.
Enter Premium member Jenny Vanderhoek, the CEO of Mynder – an app which delivers flexible, on-demand childcare. We sat down with Jenny to talk about why she swapped her successful corporate career for the Uber of babysitting.
What was your dream career growing up?
My dream job growing up was to be a children’s psychologist. Unfortunately, science was never my strength and that was a prerequisite for getting into the university course *sigh*.
You were an analyst for a FMCG company for over a decade, what was the catalyst for leaving the corporate world?
After having my children, something shifted in me. I wanted to make sure the time that I spent away from them meant something or was something I was genuinely passionate about. I loved my company and I loved the people I worked with, but I didn’t really feel passionate about my job. Even after returning from my first maternity leave (to a company with all the best possible parental leave policies you could hope for) I still struggled with the work and family balance. My daughter was sick a lot that first year as well as juggling work and family, so I felt like I had to miss out on meetings, after hour work events and conversations when I genuinely wanted to be there. Then after returning from my second maternity leave, I knew that something had to change, and I was the only one who could change it.
How have your former career skills helped you in a startup?
In my corporate role over the years, I was lucky enough to lead many different projects. From building new teams, building new systems and processes, new strategies and visions, you name it- I’ve probably done it! I was often thrown in the deep end in my role. I think that’s why I’ve been comfortable going into a startup because nothing throws you in the deep end quite like running your own business!
“The easiest way to think about Mynder is that it’s like Uber, but instead of getting a car to your door, you get a fully qualified babysitter!”
Why did you launch Mynder?
I was a working parent myself and knew it’s something that I needed and so did so many other people just like me. We’ve really re-developed and worked on what Mynder really means over the last 9 months. We are here for working parents and that is where our strength lies. We provide fully-screened Mynders to working parents who are time poor and need on-demand help that they can 100% trust.
Can you explain how it works?
The easiest way to think about it is that it’s like Uber, but instead of getting a car to your door, you get a fully qualified babysitter! Using the phone app, you make a booking and a Mynder will be there when you need it most. The booking automatically gets sent out to our Mynder community and they can choose to accept, or decline based on their availability. The key features we have in the app are ‘Wishlist-ing’ which means if you really like a Mynder, you can ‘Wishlist’ them and the booking will be sent to them before anyone else sees it. This way you can start to build a network of Mynders that you know and love. To really reassure parents, we also have a video of the confirmed Mynder for each booking. I remember the first time I used a babysitter 4 years ago… I just had a name and number and the stress of not knowing anything about their qualifications or even what they looked like was not comforting to say the least. It is my mission to ensure that every new parent’s first experience with a babysitter is a fantastic one.
How did you first fund the business?
I’ve funded this business all from our own personal savings. So, I definitely feel the pressure to hustle and grow a business that I can call my own and can be proud of.
What’s been the hardest thing about bootstrapping your business?
Not enough hours in the day to do everything. You spend some much time IN your business that you never get the time to be ON your business which is equally important. There is only one of you and no one will want it as bad you do.
What’s been the most fulfilling?
Receiving the personal messages from my new customers who use our service. I have a lot of new parents on our platform that are using a babysitter for the very first time. They are always so surprised at how easy the whole process was to find trustworthy and reliable babysitters. It’s so great to be able to provide parents with a service where they are able to go out and have a good time without worrying about the children (our Mynders often send pictures to show parents how much fun they’re having together which always reassures parents). It should be an option for every parent to enjoy the freedom to work and play and it’s my passion to give every parent that freedom!
How many ‘Mynders’ do you currently have?
We have over 1,000 Mynders on our database and we are growing every day! We are currently in the middle of recruiting for holiday destinations in NSW (yes, parents need some ‘me’ time on holidays too) and we are expanding into Melbourne early next year.
How many working families have you helped out?
We have serviced over 600 families to date and signing up on average 20 new families each week.
As the CEO, how do you model and implement workplace flexibility?
I believe in leading by example, so I work quite flexibly showing my team that it’s the norm. Some days I come in earlier and finish earlier, so I can pick up my kids from daycare/preschool. Or I’ll have a meeting across town, so I’ll work from a café around there, so I don’t spend all day travelling to and from the office. My team does the same, I let them pick their hours and location for that week. We’ve just recently had a new team member who lives on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and she knows that she can work from home a few days a week to minimise her travel time. We calculated she spends 8 hours a week travelling to and from work – so imagine all the extra things she could be doing with her time on her wellbeing etc. which, in turn, makes her more productive.
It’s not lost on us that you’re juggling a business with two small children. Can you share a time with us when your wheels completely fell off?
My life is a daily juggle! Even when I think I have it all together something or someone (one of my children) will deviate from that plan. I’ve been to work covered in vomit and having to buy new clothes on the way in. I’ve been on a meeting call with my sick child in my arms constantly rocking them so that they’ll go to sleep. I’ve lost my car keys between parking my car and picking up my child from preschool (having to walk around school four times until someone found them and handed them in at reception). The feeling of having two tired and hungry kids and not being to get in to your car where your wallet and mobile phone is a terrifying feeling that I will never forget!!
What strategic direction do you want to take Mynder in 2019?
Next year is a big year for us. We are expanding quickly into other cities in Australia. We’re working with a few organisations next year that will roll out a Mynder working parents’ program to their teams, eventually nation-wide. I want to support working parents through their organisations so that they can have options in their first year after returning to work.
Jenny Vanderhoek is a Business Chicks Premium member, you can connect with her here and check out Mynder here.