Why I Came Out of the Mommy Closet


I have a dirty little secret.

I’ve spent years–well, not hiding it exactly. Just choosing not to showcase it.

But, now it’s time to air my dirty laundry. So to speak.

I’m a mother.

Yup. That’s it. My big secret. And you’re probably wondering why it’s even such a big deal.

Even though I’m proud of my 3 boys, I put a lot of thought into whether or not to incorporate them into my professional life. There are several reasons any woman would consider the same choice I made.

You’re Just Starting Out

There are lots of women who successfully make a name for themselves as a mom. They build blogs or businesses around having a family.

For these women, being loud and proud about motherhood is essential to their personal branding.

But, for women building businesses apart from their families, it can be distracting to talk about motherhood. One friend who is a partner at a venture capital firm told me that she loses Twitter followers every time she tweets about parenting.

In the era of social media and personal branding, you have to think long and hard about what you share. If talking about your family dilutes your brand, it might be best to keep quiet.

That Pesky Glass Ceiling

Like it or not, there is still a glass ceiling for most women.

Draw attention to your uterus and watch that ceiling drop even lower.

In our Serious Startups episode on parenting, Kane expressed surprise that this is true in startups as well as corporate culture.

“There are no rules in startups,” he said incredulously.

But the harsh reality is that there are rules in everything. Startups are a tough environment for mothers because the very nature of entrepreneurship is all-consuming. There is no time for “distractions,” even if they’re cute.

A quick survey of the startup tech scene reveals 2 main demographics for both founders and investors: “men” and “women without children.”

There are exceptions, of course. But, in general, moms starting a non-family-focused business face a huge uphill battle both practically and reputation-wise.

Keep Your Privates Private

The first 2 reasons I’ve talked about can be overcome with time and success. After a certain level of accomplishment or proving yourself, it’s rarely a big deal to reveal your secret.

This last one, though, can apply to moms at any level.

Sometimes, it’s just nobody’s business.

Imagine how awful it would be if everyone had access to all the cute/horrible pictures and stories from your childhood. A simple Google search would show employers pictures of 2-year-old you being potty trained or your mom’s tweets about the time you ate dog poop. That’s reality for the next generation.

Many moms choose to keep their motherhood quiet in order to give their kids a clean digital record.

(FYI: Even though I’m now out of the closet, I still won’t ever publish my kids pictures or names.)

There Comes a Time In Every Mom’s Life…

There are several great reasons for moms to stay quiet about their kids. But sometimes, it’s time to come clean.

As we talked before filming the parenting show, I realized how many women share my dilemma. We’re entrepreneurs, we have kids, and sometimes both of those things work together. Sometimes they don’t.

Either way, it can be isolating–even more than typical entrepreneurship. Admitting my “fatal flaw” to the world is just one more way to battle that isolation and the status quo.

After all, it’s great to know we’re not alone in our rocketship.

Crowdfunding Goes Feminine


For every great idea, there are a million verticals, and crowdfunding is no different. Did you know there’s a crowdfunding site specifically for veterans? Are you trying to get a park or sports project funded? There’s one for apps, local communities, and nonprofits.

And now, there’s one for women.

Nap Time Startups is still in early days. CEO Vicki Lemay and her team have only been working on it since March of this year, but they’re already planning a beta launch by December.

So, why do women need a separate crowdfunding platform? Are women not getting  funded over at Kickstarter or Indiegogo? Lemay’s answer is that Nap Time Startups will offer a completely different experience from the industry giants. They aren’t just a “platform.” Instead they are seeking to build an ecosystem of support from crowdfunding coaching to advice on financial models.

“When the women entrepreneurs join our crowdfunding ecosystem of business coaches, crowdfunding donors, affiliate mentors/advisors and potential equity investors, we all have the same goal – to achieve success,” Lemay said in an email.

Nap Time Startups also hopes to help donors and investors see the potential in a company or product, which could mean entrepreneurs move beyond crowdfunding into straight investment.

As a mom, the name Nap Time Startups brings up visions of women working away while the kids nap. I asked Lemay if they were targeting moms in particular.

“After so many women entrepreneurs that were not moms with children at home reached out needing crowdfunding and business coaching, we expanded our outreach and are absolutely focused on all women entrepreneurs,” she answered. “Everyone needs a nap, right?”

With such ambitious goals, the team at Nap Time Startups probably does, but they probably won’t be taking one soon. Lemay and her team hope to have the Beta site ready to go by December 5 and are already signing up future users. They also have to plan for their competition. There are a few other women-only crowdfunding sites out there. Plum Alley operates a site that incorporates an e-commerce site so women can sell their wares on the same platform they use for fundraising. Like Nap Time Startups, Chic CEO also aims to incorporate education and support in their platform. And, of course, there are Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

But, we all know that ideas aren’t the most important thing in startups. Execution is. If Nap Time Startups can launch a great site and have great mentorship, they have a shot at creating a unique ecosystem that lots of women will love.

If that’s you, check out Nap Time Startups and sign up for the beta.


Juggling Motherhood And Entrepreneurship

Female Founders, Guest Post, YEC, startupAs a young entrepreneur, your business is likely to take over your life. Never mind the 9-to-5, being captain of your own ship can be more like 9-to-9. But then you didn’t start your own business because you were afraid of hard work, did you?

As a business owner who always has a multitude of projects going, is location independent (i.e.: a lifestyle of almost permanent travel) and as the mother of a toddler, I know what it’s like to be juggling too many balls. If I’ve learned anything about how to get things done and be happy with what you’ve achieved, it’s this:

Learn to leverage time zone differences
As a location independent entrepreneur – or if you work with clients, customers and partners in different parts of the world – time zones can leave you scrambling to catch up with clients and customers at odd times of the day and night but they can also be used to your advantage:

  • Set project deadlines to take advantage of the fact that your clients may well be sleeping, leaving you to get ahead with your work.
  • Process emails at a time when you know your clients have finished for the day so you won’t get an influx of new ones as soon as you clear your inbox.
  • Send work that needs feedback when your clients are starting the day so they can have it ready for when you start yours.

Instead of seeing it as a tricky challenge, there are plenty of ways you can turn working with global clients in different time zones to your advantage.

Perfectionism is over-rated
Motherhood has taught me that “good enough” is good enough. It can be very easy to spend (waste) time getting everything so that you’re 110 percent happy with it. Your website needs a few more tweaks. That proposal needs to be refined some more. That product needs a bit more testing.

But when you are pushed for time – which you usually are as a nomadic, entrepreneurial mother – good enough has to do. That extra five percent  that you know wasn’t done? No-one else is likely to notice it’s not there, they probably won’t know it was even meant to be there. Get used to shipping things that are good enough, gather feedback and then perfect.

Follow your own path
As a young entrepreneur, you no doubt have lots of people giving you advice. You’ll read columns like this, soak in the advice of people you respect and try to emulate the success and approach of those you admire.


The only way you’ll find true success is to follow your own path. What worked for others might work for you or it might fail. What someone else says you should do might be a good fit or it might totally bomb. Nobody knows better or is as passionate about your business as you are. And nobody knows you, better than you do.

What you try might not always work out. But what you learn from those mistakes and failures will be key insights into what will work for you next time. If you look around at the people whose success you admire, you’ll probably notice a common trait: they did things their way, no matter what anyone else advised. Be bold and do the same.

Use your hidden strengths
You’re young, you have energy, you have time on your side. Obvious, yes? But have you realized that these are real strengths you can leverage as a young entrepreneur?

Before becoming a parent, I wish I’d known how difficult it is to juggle parenthood with being a business owner; never mind living a life of travel to boot. I often wonder what I did when I had all day to write a single blog post and didn’t manage it. I look back at what I’ve achieved since being a mother and realize how much I could have achieved before I had the parental responsibility , and didn’t.

You can work twice as hard, fail twice as fast, and learn twice as many times as entrepreneurs older (and supposedly wiser) than you can, and you’ll probably still be under 30 with all of that experience under your belt. If you’re not a parent or you have fewer responsibilities than some of your peers and competitors, use this as a competitive advantage – when the time comes, you’ll be glad you did.

As a young entrepreneur, if you can get good at getting things done early on in your business no matter what pressures or responsibilities you face, you’ll already be ahead of the game. Make it your goal to stay that way.

Online entrepreneur, community builder and digital publisher, Lea Woodward is the founder of Kinetiva – an organization dedicated to helping people with a natural talent create a sustainable business from their talent.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

We’re looking for a few good female founders!

Nominate Your Favorite Female Speaker for Everywhere Else Cincinnati

Everywhere Else Cincinnati, EECincy, Female Founder, Startup Chicks, SpeakersEverywhere Else Cincinnati is fast approaching, and the Nibletz team is working like crazy to make it the best event everywhere else. We’ve already announced tons of speakers, and we have even more waiting for unveiling.

But, we want YOU to be involved, too! We need to know who you want to hear speak at Everywhere Else Cincinnati. Fill out our quick survey, and we’ll send personal invitations to the fan favorites.

Here at Nibletz, we love to celebrate women starting up. We have our Bad-Ass Startup Chick series that highlights awesome women starting awesome companies. At our Memphis event, the Kick Ass Female Founders panel was one of the most popular. In fact, women swept the pitch contests at the Everywhere Else Memphis conference.

Female founders face unique challenges, and the best ones do it with so much grace, you’d never know starting up was hard. They have amazing stories that entrepreneurs–male and female–can learn from. And we want to make sure our Everywhere Else Cincinnati attendees are getting the best in-the-trenches stories possible.

That’s why your input is so important to us. The survey is super-quick (2 questions!), and you can make sure the best women get a prime spot in our lineup.

So, let us know: which women should we invite to Everywhere Else Cincinnati?

By the way, after you nominate your favorite women speakers, make sure to get your early bird ticket. We’re selling out fast!


Women Rock The Startup World At Huge Startup Conference

Female founders, everywhere else.co the startup conference, startups,startup panel,ee2013,ee2014By Tyler Stafford & Rachel Wilhite, University Of Memphis Entrepreneurial Journalism Students

The “The Kick Ass Female Founders from Everywhere Else” was a success at the Everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference in Memphis, TN. The topics discussed expanded on those typically covered in the male-dominated world of all things entrepreneurial, and this gave the conference a girl power kick in the khakis.

The panelists included Sarah Ware of Markerly; Wendy MacKinnon Keith of Digital Retail Apps; Kelsey Meyer of Digital Talent Agents; and Andrea Livingston of Grit Design, Inc.

Elizabeth Lemmonds, the Chief Brand Officer of Launch Memphis, moderated the event. Danielle Inez of Pink Robin Avenue provided the questions for the Q & A that followed.

One of the most provocative questions asked at the event was, “Can the woman entrepreneur have it all?” Panelists noted that one of the concerns shared by many women entering the startup field, as well as men, is whether or not they can have a family life with a partner and kids and juggle the numerous demands of entrepreneurial ventures.

In her tongue-in-cheek response to this query, Andrea Livingston said that nobody can have it all, but they can make it work regardless. “Our house is like a comedy of errors every minute of every day,” she said.

“No one can have it all, but you can have moments,” said Keith, adding that “it’s about quality of time; not quantity.”

There is a silver lining, though.  Not only do entrepreneurs have the ability to create businesses,  they can also create their own schedules and set their own priorities.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or a man,” said Livingston, “you better show up and be ready to work your ass off.”

The Everywhere Else startup community is eager to collaborate together rather than compete against one another.  Entrepreneurship is about taking risks, learning to accept failures and respecting others (as well as yourself) throughout the process.

Wendy MacKinnon Keith agreed that women cannot have it all, but that they certainly can have “moments.” She said that it isn’t just the quantity of time that matters, but the quality.

Women in Memphis  looking for advice and support in their own business endeavors should check out Upstart Memphis, an organization dedicated to fueling women’s innovation and entrepreneurship at www.upstartmemphis.com.

For more information on the panelists featured, follow them on Twitter:@WareSarah; @gritdesign; @digitalretail; @DTAgents; @SocialDani; @elizlemmonds