What better way to kick off 2018 than an interview with one of our role models and fellow businesswoman Michelle Kennedy - a true inspiration. Michelle created the app Peanut, hailed by New York Times as 'the app for mothers who missed out on Tinder'. It's mission is to help likeminded women, who happen to be mamas meet one another. We had a chat with Michelle to hear how it all began...
Where did the inspiration to create Peanut come from?
Well, my background is dating, so I suppose dating for mamas (of sorts), was a logical progression! Starting the business had challenges, but I believed in what I was doing, and I felt well researched and prepared. I was ready to challenge the challengers!
Peanut was really born out of 2 key issues:
The first was the emotional aspect of becoming a mother. My girlfriends weren't at the stage in their lives where they were having children yet, and even if some of my wider friendship group were, we all lived in different parts of the city (and leaving the house to go anywhere further than 10 minutes from home with a newborn felt like a military operation). I suppose what I felt most prominently, which isn't particularly comfortable for a 30-something woman to admit, is that even though I had lots of friends and was successful professionally, I felt quite isolated. This was further compounded by the fact that I was working in an industry (dating), where it was my day-to-day to produce products people could use to find a match, or a date, and I was struggling to find a woman who was like-minded to go for a coffee with.
The second was my frustration with the existing products on the market aimed at mothers. I didn't recognise the tone of voice the products used, or the UX/UI being used. They felt outdated, old fashioned, and in some cases patronising. To me, I didn't feel like I'd suddenly aged, or become less modern, less cool, just because I'd become a mother, and yet, the products seemed to have that expectation. I found that confusing. I still had an expectation of great user experience, from products like Uber, or Instagram, but I wasn't getting that from the products for mothers that were out there.
Peanut is an app to connect like minded women, who happen to be mothers.
We use algorithms more traditionally associated with the dating industry, coupled with machine learning which enables more intelligent recommendations (the more user utilises the app, the more accurate the recommendations will become). In short, once a user creates a profile via their Facebook account and answers some preliminary questions about her life stage and personality, the app’s algorithm displays mamas with common interests within a specific radius. Users can chat with other users in discovery, “wave” at other users by swiping up, or swipe down to come back to a user later. When two users wave at each other, a “match” screen appears. The best part is it highlights what they have in common (i.e: whether they’re both spiritual, whether they have kids the same age, or even if they both speak Spanish) so starting a conversation is less daunting. Connections are made using an algorithm which takes into account location, interests, languages, the age and gender of children, and educational background, among other things. Given our focus on commonalities and the intelligence behind who we show to the user, it encourages interaction, which in turn encourages real life meetups. We also have a polling and scheduling feature so that mamas can take that interaction and turn it into a meetup in 3clicks, all with one hand. We really see Peanut as breaking down those barriers to entry so that women find it easier to make those connections.
What were you doing prior to Peanut?
See above! I was deputy CEO of Badoo, and integral to the launch of dating app Bumble.
As mums ourselves, we're keen to hear how you manage the work/life balance. Does it even exist?!
AHHH no such thing!I I don’t believe in balance. I think we’re juggling. We’re all trying to juggle our roles, mother, partner, sister, friend, grafter. Sometimes we keep all of the balls in the air, sometimes we drop one. I don’t like the word balance because as soon as you think it exists, you think you’re failing at something when you don’t have one. I never have had balance, but I don’t beat myself up about it now.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business of their own?
Be tenacious, thick skinned, and know your market better than anyone else out there! There are going to be people telling you why you’re crazy, be ready to school them on why they’re wrong!
Peanut uses 'Peanut Packs' to identify users personality. What Peanut Packs would best describe you?
Ahh, easy: Geek Chic, Hot mess, Wine Time
What has been your career highlight?
Oh Peanut, every time Peanut. When a woman emails me and has met her friends on Peanut, or has started a business on Peanut, or even found a nanny share on Peanut, well, that is what makes my day. How amazing is that? A community of women, helping each other out?
What does the future of Peanut hold?
We’re growing, more features coming! Watch this space!
Find out more and download the Peanut app here.