Ontario women leaders in small business
More women are joining the growing ranks of startups.
They’re a force to be reckoned with — especially in Ontario where for every 100 male entrepreneurs, there are 92 female counterparts, reports Ryerson University’s Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Canada is a global leader in female entrepreneurship. In search of a flexible working schedule and being their own boss, women are likely to start and run small businesses in the retail and service sectors, and some are creating services never offered before.
That’s just what Michelle Kennedy did six months ago — she launched Peanut (peanut-app.io), the Tinder-like app to help moms plan dates for themselves. Kind of like their own play dates! The former lawyer combined her dating app expertise and mom experience and launched an app that basically connects like-minded women who are mothers.
Recognizing the need for real-life connections, Peanut takes common interests, values, and age of children into account before displaying other nearby mamas to potentially “match” with, and it encourages in-person meetups by taking the hassle out of scheduling.
Kennedy, mom to Finlay, three, started developing the app in 2016 and is now working full-time as the co-founder and CEO. She worked as an M&A lawyer at leading international law firm, Mishcon de Reya, and later joined dating app, Badoo, where she was initially Badoo’s in-house legal counsel, rising to deputy CEO.
After a five-year stint of helping other people go on dates, she became a mom and saw a need and identified an opportunity to bring dates to moms. “Before I became a mother, I never realized how isolating the experience can be. Most of my friends weren’t yet having kids, and the ones that were lived all the way across town, and going anywhere more than 10 minutes away with a newborn is like an army operation!”
Kennedy found it a challenge finding a like-minded and nearby woman to go for a coffee with, she says. On top of that, tech connecting was imperfect: “There were these super outdated forums, overwhelming mama groups on social media, and products that either talked to me in a condescending tone or presented as if I’d suddenly become less cool.”
So she set out to create a product that spoke to this incoming generation of mobile-first mamas and inspire meaningful connections. “While your friends that aren’t moms don’t become any less important, it is also important to have a network of women who understand exactly what you’re going through in this life stage. When you have to cancel plans last minute because your kid has a runny nose, or you forget a birthday because your mind is in so many other places, it’s great to have mama friends who can not just relate, but also offer advice and support.”
She adds that there’s the shared understanding that everyone’s on the app to meet new people, and the app goes the extra mile to constantly point out commonalities to help get the conversation going. “Plus, you can connect with other moms based on your location, so you won’t have to take two buses and a subway to meet up with your new friend.”
It can be used to set up a new play date for the kids, to connect for a coffee run, or even be a way for mamas to sneak out for some drinks, says Kennedy, adding that the app’s scheduling feature adds the agreed upon date directly to your phone’s calendar to really encourage follow through on meeting up in-person.