Earning

How 2 working moms built a social network that raised $2 million in seed funding

HeyMama founders, from left: Amri Kibbler and Katya Libin.
Photo by ScoutLab

In 2011, Katya Libin and Amri Kibbler both gave birth to daughters. Soon after, their idea for a business was born: HeyMama, a nationwide community of working moms.

HeyMama came from the isolation they felt as new moms, before they met each other. "None of my friends had had kids," says Libin. "I was working at a tech company. None of the guys on the team had been through this experience. And I just felt really lonely."

Both of the working moms knew they eventually wanted to pursue entrepreneurship. So in 2014, they teamed up to create the very community they'd needed as new moms — a social network where women could celebrate both motherhood and their careers, and where they could "talk about everything from diapers to deals," says Libin.

Today, the subscription-based platform — which costs $35 per month or $350 per year — boasts nearly 2,000 members. In January 2020, HeyMama announced it had raised $2 million in seed funding to continue growing. And the company's success allowed both to transition to HeyMama full-time soon after it was founded.

Here are four pieces of advice Libin and Kibbler have for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to turn their side hustle into a full-fledged business.

HeyMama founders, from left: Katya Libin and Amri Kibbler.
Photo by Stevi Sesin

1. Don't go at it alone

"If you want to go fast," says Libin, "go alone, but if you want to go far, go together." Much like raising a child, the two say, building a business takes a village.

Used wisely, your network can help you build your business. Let your friends know you're about to embark on this entrepreneur journey and that you may need them for moral support, suggest Libin and Kibbler. When you're reaching out to potential mentors you've never met, be clear about exactly how they could help you and your timeline. And when you meet new people, get to know them, because they have their own network of people you might benefit from knowing.

HeyMama founder Katya Libin.
Photo by Stevi Sesin

2. Take advantage of free tools

"We started the company with literally $500 and an Instagram account," Libin says. The two used every free or low-cost tool at their disposal to start building their business ― WordPress and Squarespace to create a website, email, phone calls, and FaceTime to talk to hundreds of potential members, and $300 to create a logo via 99designs.

It's a tactic they now recommend to other entrepreneurs looking to build out an infrastructure for their business. Other tools could include social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, which are free and can help spread the word about your work; freelance marketplaces like Fiverr, which feature an array of affordable creatives who can help you with content creation; and resale sites like Decluttr, which let you buy used tech for considerably cheaper than it would cost to buy it new.

The only way to build community is by actually starting to build the community.
Katya Libin
Co-founder of HeyMama

3. Talk to your clients as much as possible

When the two were first figuring out what HeyMama's business model was going to be, Libin and Kibbler spoke to hundreds of moms nationwide to see what was missing in their day-to-day lives. And it was through these conversations that they learned that women were looking for a place to talk about motherhood and build their careers. More specifically, they learned that moms wanted a subscription-based network with more opportunities to connect.

"People telling us that they should be paying us for the services we're offering," says Kibbler, "really pointed us in the direction of the paid membership model."

HeyMama founders Amri Kibbler.
Photo by Stevi Sesin

4. Just get started

Libin and Kibbler say some of the best advice they got early on was, "just get started."

That push came during a meeting with the founders of business management software company Ivy. Libin and Kibbler wanted to pore over potential business models, and the Ivy founders asked, "What do you have to do to get started tomorrow?" Libin recalls.

"We were like, well, we could start an Instagram and maybe we could have a Splash page," she says. "And they said, 'just do that.'" Soon after, the two posted the first HeyMama Instagram story.

The takeaway: Don't let yourself get hung up on planning and perceived roadblocks. "The only way to build community," says Libin, "is by actually starting to build the community."

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