When people ask what motivated me, as a mother of two toddlers and part-time English teacher, to found a company developing kids mobile educational games, I talk about my observation of the huge impact mobile games had on my toddlers and how I couldn't find quality games so I decided to create them myself.
While this is true, my personal motivation was borne out stopping full-time work to care for my first son. Two and a half years later my second son was born, and though I continued working on a freelance basis, I was out of the full-time workforce for more than five years.
It was the most natural thing to stay close to my babies. I, like so many career women, had waited a long time to meet 'Mr. Right father of my kids,' so when our much-anticipated son arrived, I wanted to be with him. We were fortunate to have the means to be able to. Given the most important growth of a baby's brain occurs in the first five years, I also wanted to be their main caregiver.
Even though I loved being a mom, I have to confess my self-esteem suffered at times when asked what I did for a living. And I felt inadequate when I met other mothers who seemed to be able to juggle a busy career with parenting toddlers.
When my second son reached 2 and started daycare, I was motivated to build a business that would contribute something meaningful to the world (which now revolved around toddlers), reinvigorate my brain and give me a sense of purpose as the kids grew up.
But I didn't know how to start or where to find team members; motherhood isolates you from the workforce. I had spent five years making contacts with pediatricians, swimming instructors and nursery school teachers. Where would I meet a digital generation programmer geek or a groovy digital artist?
It took me a couple of years to build the team of five that I now have. For moms that have an entrepreneurial idea, here are the ways I learnt to find team members and get my business started:
1. Join a professional association for women. I joined PWA in Italy (Professional Womens Association) and attended their events. PWA is represented througout Europe. My marketing consultant and a potential investor in my company are both contacts I made at PWA events.
2. Get in contact with a professor of the course you need skills from at a leading university. I rang a professor in their Masters program in computer engineering at Politecnico University in Milan and had lunch with him. A few months later, he found me my current partner and CTO (Chief Technical Officer)
3. Find out what Facebook groups for startups there are in your city or region and become an active member. You can post on their site the skills you are looking for in a team member.
4. Find out what startup events there are in your city or region for budding entrepreneurs to present their ideas in front of an audience. I presented Colto to the Milan Chamber of Commerce and made valuable contacts, one of whom is still my lawyer.
5. Draft a business plan for your idea and enter it in a business plan competition which offers assistance and development workshops for your idea.
6. Research all the seed funding/accelerator programs for startups. Don't limit yourself to those in your country as most programs offer seed funding to cover the cost of travel and accommodation. I was selected by GameFounders to attend their 3 month accelerator program in Estonia and it moved my business to an entirely different level.
7. Research crowdsourcing websites such as fidalo.eu where you can put your idea online and find the resources you need to get started.
If you have any other tips on how you started your business, please let me know by leaving a comment.
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