Women 2.0: How did you know Everloop was an idea worth exploring? Was their early user or family feedback that encouraged you in creating the product?
Hilary DeCesare: I am a mom of two 14-year-old twins and a tween daughter. As my twins began to use the internet, I saw first-hand that they had nowhere to safely call their "home base" and connect with their friends online. I also saw the lack of security and information for children on how to stay safe online and disturbing online trends including teen suicide (attributable to the internet), predators and cyber-bullying.
Rather than wait for someone else to solve these problems, my co-founders, who are also moms, and I took action. We decided to build a safe, protected online space for kids, benefiting from great technology and superior customer service, where they could connect with friends, collaborate and thrive.
Women 2.0: What was your process for building the team, and how did you balance that with fundraising?
Hilary DeCesare: Fundraising can take up all the time when starting a new company. So ensuring you have the right plan to drive the company is critical.
I believe my keys to success are focus, accountability and flexibility.
First, it is important to have a clear focus on what you want to achieve, including your mission, vision and short and long-term goals. When starting a new company, you have a completely open field and it can be easy to get off track. So you need to continually circle back with your team (which is typically not very big initially) and make sure things are progressing and key milestones are being reached.
Focus also plays heavily into the second success factor which is accountability. Adding the time fundraising takes into the mix, you will not be able to do everything yourself, so as the project progress you will need to bring people in. By having clear short and long-term goals, team members understand what they are accountable for and it makes it possible to see where things are on track or where you need to reevaluate.
This leads to the third success factor which is flexibly. Things will change, challenges will arise and new opportunities will present themselves so it you need to be flexible, take in the new information and adjust plans.
Women 2.0: What advice would you offer prospective founders about knowing when they have an idea worth making a leap for?
Hilary DeCesare: If you have an idea that you believe has potential, go to a couple of people familiar with the industry. Get advice. Bring advisors on. Don't think you can do everything alone. Learn from and leverage the expertise of others.
Women 2.0: What have your past six months been like, and what motivated you in the process?
Hilary DeCesare: A whirlwind of travel, parenting and laughs. The key is making sure you don't take yourself too seriously. Yes, I want to change the world but it may not happen in 24 hours.