On­tario women lead­ers in small busi­ness

Edmonton Sun - - CAREERS - JOANNE RICHARD Spe­cial to Post­media Net­work

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.


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