— Tell us about your project. How did it come about, and what issues does it tackle?
— The idea came to me in 2014 when I was on maternity leave and was spending a lot of time alone at home with my child. It is precisely with motherhood that women’s lives radically change. You don’t get invited to as many parties or gatherings – well, you do suddenly have other interests – yet the need to interact at that time is enormous! Becoming a mum, a woman discovers a lot of new things for herself and absolutely needs to find someone she can talk to about what is worrying her, someone she can meet up with, so that she can get out from between those four walls and socialize offline. According to the statistics, nine out of ten women say that after the birth of a child their social life goes to zero, and 70% admit that the only adult they see during the course of the day is their husband.
— How was the team formed?
— It took two years from having the idea to setting up the company. By then I had come to the end of my maternity leave, gone back to ABBYY where I had worked for a total of 10 years, then I moved over to a job as International Development Director for the startup Skyeng and, having worked at a startup, I felt ready to set up my own company. Once the idea was formalized in a business plan, I spoke with a colleague of mine from ABBYY, with whom I had set up the community around the dictionary Lingvo; he was interested in the idea of an app for mums and became a co-founder of the company and its CTO.
Then, together we recruited a development team, mainly people we knew. I also recruited partners in those areas where we needed more expertise – so we found a Financial Analyst and a Product Director. Now the team is made up of ten people who live in five different countries: Russia, Ukraine, Germany, England, and Luxembourg. I have known half of them for more than five years, and we are very happy working together. The main meetings take place on Skype, but we meet offline too, and sometimes travel to see one another.
— Where did the money to develop the project come from before you received some from NUMA?
— The project was developed in the textbook manner: first I put my own money in, then the key stakeholders on the team invested. In September, we were taken up by the accelerator company NUMA, and now we are ready for a new round of investment so we can enter the international market.
— How are you planning to monetize the project?
— We plan to establish a strong international community of mums, who will join together based upon their interests, and arrange offline meetings with each other, ask advice from other mums and have the support of experts. The first version of the product had a function for searching for other mums with similar interests, living nearby, which is handy for getting to know people, socializing, and helping each other. To the next versions, we are adding a map of the city for mums and an events calendar. At the initial stage, we will be monetizing ourselves through smart, targeted advertising. It will be displayed to the very audience which shows a real interest in the product on offer. In the future, we plan to set up a marketplace for children’s products.
— Are you looking only to Russia or are you planning to move into foreign markets?
— We are putting together a project aimed at the global market. We’ve carried out research into the needs and interests of mums in Russia, Germany, and England. It turns out that we have a lot in common, and the community managers living in London and Munich are going to help us roll out the project in regional communities. In March, the app will be available in Russian, English and German, and we are intending to attract users from those three countries straightaway. I should point out that the market for children’s products in those countries is huge: $15.1bn in Russia, 15.2bn pounds in England, and 20bn euros in Germany.
— What are your plans for the future? Have you had any offers from large investors?
— We want to make an application that users will really like and will meet their main aims: finding new friends, replying to questions, finding help. We already have several big partners prepared to help us with finding an audience and organizing events for mums. We plan to capture 1.5 million users within two years and go into international markets; fortunately, our experience of talking with mothers confirms the demand for such an app. We are looking to a new round of investments in the near future to speed up our joining those international markets.