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Parental leave has become a hot issue as tech companies try to leverage their benefits to lure top talent. Just this week, Amazon announced revamped policies to offer more paid time off for new parents, following in the footsteps of Microsoft, Netflix, and other tech giants.

But for new parents that don’t work for these big companies —or don’t hold software engineering degrees — the options are often limited.

That’s a problem LeaveLogic wants to solve. The Seattle startup uses its algorithm to create individualized parental leave plans that both employees and employers can agree on.

LeaveLogic CEO Anna Steffeney
LeaveLogic CEO Anna Steffeney

“I founded LeaveLogic after the birth of my two children — one born in Europe, the second born in the United States.” said founder Anna Steffeney. “The glaring difference in parental leave policies prompted me to want to utilize technology to make parental leave a normal experience in the workplace.”

We caught up with Steffeney for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Family leave is broken in the U.S. We are trying to fix it, not with policy but with technology.”

Inspiration hit us when: “I experienced the best A/B test by having two children at the same company in different countries, one in Germany one in the U.S. I was saddened when colleagues in the U.S. told me to keep my pregnancy ‘hidden as long as possible.’ I wanted answers to my family leave questions, but there was no easy way to get those answers without multiple back and forth communications with HR.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Currently bootstrap, although considering a future seed round. We are opening a new market in the HR tech space. It is important for us to prove the customer demand to investors through our current customer contracts and feedback.”

Steffeney addresses the Women's Funding Alliance.
Steffeney addressing a Women in Technology (WiT) event.

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “We utilize an algorithm that combines company policy, state and local regulations, plus an employee’s unique life event, to create a personalized and curated experience for the employee to self-serve choices through the family leave experience at their place of employment.”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Waiting to build the product until we secured paying customers. This allowed us to increase the likelihood of product market fit.”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Not realizing the amount of inbound demand possible through content marketing. We are a B2B platform solution, and early on we focused on direct sales toward our target buyers within internal HR, and subsequently very little on marketing. However, after receiving unsolicited press from FastCompany and Brit + Co., we quickly realized the topic of family leave is so compelling that we can drive significant inbound demand through traditional consumer marketing channels.”

Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “If you are talking Melinda Gates, absolutely! She is a huge advocate for family leave, especially around the health and economic benefits. But we would also love to have Mark Zuckerberg in our corner. He is about to become a dad for the first time and will be faced with the choice of taking Facebook’s generous paternity leave. We believe if Mark takes leave, it will raise more awareness for the paid leave movement than any public policy to date.”

win-1-2

Our favorite team-building activity is: “Our team off-sites, where we focus on our vision and future strategy. We have committed to a remote/distributed team environment starting with Justin, the CTO, who is based in D.C. By adhering to this virtual team concept, we can attract the best talent that is absolutely aligned with the LeaveLogic vision.”

The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “People committed to normalizing family leave in the workplace.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Even if you have personally experienced the pain point you are solving, ensure you get objective people on your side to help frame the problem from all angles. We are forever thankful we took the time to conduct over 40-plus deep customer discovery interviews, ultimately driving us to pivot from a B2C to a B2B solution.”

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