As the mother of two young children, Victoria Oldridge knows just how challenging it can be to raise kids.
Sometimes you just need someone to lean on, a bit of help and support when things are out of control. That’s why the 33-year-old entrepreneur and San Francisco Bay Area transplant formed MoxTree, a social networking site of sorts just for moms. We chatted with Oldridge, who started the company earlier this year, for the latest installment of Startup Spotlight.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “MoxTree uniquely connects moms based on common interests and stages of motherhood along with the ability to form groups, all in one place.”
Inspiration hit us when: “I was attending various moms groups for different reasons (i.e. some for playdates, others for book clubs) and realizing that the connecting moms variable could be done much more efficiently. Some of us lived in vastly different locations while others were working outside the home full-time, some stay-at-home-moms, and others working part-time and many times, a 10-15 year age difference between moms. At the end, there were just so many lifestyle and scheduling disparities that the groups would separate which defeated the purpose of the benefits of moms bonding and supporting each other. And, in this day and age people are transient and moving frequently for new jobs, etc., and need an easier way to find other moms. You always hear serial entrepreneurs say that the best way to galvanize new ideas is to keep your eyes open for the ‘holes’ in the way things are currently done and fill it. I saw a gaping hole in the ways in which connections were being formed between moms and the idea and inception of MoxTree was formed.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “So far, I’m bootstrapping. But, in being a mom to two energetic children under 2.5, I’m starting to think that it might be infinitely easier to obtain VC support and fly to the moon than juggling the two of them! Realistically, I know that obtaining support from VC’s is a climb in itself and in the midst of multitasking caring for the family and wanting to grow this project I had to prioritize…daily. Did I want to put in all of the leg work and time in hopes of gaining VC support (if ever) and let the progress of MoxTree be contingent on VC support that may never occur? Or take some personal risk and get moving with the project and that way I could at least count on having some higher degree of control over its rate of development? I went with the latter. There are pros and cons to VC involvement and bootstrapping. It seems that if you’re not a part of some sort of accelerator, the haul is a much longer one in terms of VC involvement and in wanting to simultaneously continue to be home as much as possible with my children, I had to find the best middle ground I could.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “A husband who puts up with me when I’m so stressed and tired that I’m ready to start fuming out the top of my head like a femme-bot. On a serious note, it’s bilateral: On the home front it really is having consistent team-work; without a husband who is as encouraging and supportive as he is, this would be infinitely more difficult. The other side of it is keeping my eye on the goal. I always ensure that the MoxTree splash page tab is displayed on my computer and make a point of looking at it each morning, first thing. This way, even in the midst of the obstacles or if I’m pulled in too many directions on a particular day to focus as much attention on MoxTree, I’m keeping my eye, literally, on the goal each day.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Having children! If it weren’t for them, I may not have been catapulted into this arena where this particular inspiration would have arisen.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Not joining the circus when I had the chance? Yes, that’s a joke. Perhaps not keeping a more acute eye on the business plan. Business plans should usually change weekly or even several times per week due to the dynamic nature of development and entrepreneur landscape. Making constant and frequent tweaks to that plan can facilitate a more robust growth. When we slack on modifying our business plans for too long, we can get a bit side-tracked.”
Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “This is like being asked which of your children is better and the answer is they’re all equally fantastic, but possess different characteristics and strengths. MoxTree is a social networking site of sorts. So, Zuckerberg comes to mind on first instinct from that angle; he knows what keeps people addicted to his site and how to adapt to the the mass volume in a short amount of time. At the same time Bezos is running a company that has revolutionized the way we make purchases and is continually not only adapting as a company but they are the leaders that cause the rest of us to adapt. Quickly adapting and staying ahead of what’s current is important in running a sustainable business.”
Our world domination strategy starts when: “When I can get out of my tiny office — AKA ‘cave’ (soon) — from the development and planning phase and see the light of day to get the more assertive marketing launched.”
Rivals should fear us because: “The last person you want to mess with is a Mom!”
We are truly unique because: “We’re giving moms the tools to find moms near them with numerous compatibilities. We’re giving them options and the autonomy to put their mom-friends and interests in one convenient place.”
The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Conveying the concepts of the functionality and feel of the site to the developers. The developers are great but it’s important to know going into it, that engineers and the non-engineer do speak different languages.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Keep your eye on the process daily, not just the goal and be open to change.”