3 Great Examples Of Successful Mom EntrepreneursJune 12, 2014
by Brent Gleeson
A couple months ago I wrote a piece for my column about military veteran entrepreneurs, or Vetrepreneurs. Being a former Navy SEAL, combat veteran and entrepreneur I have a vast amount of respect for the hard work and perseverance it takes to succeed in building a start-up into a thriving mature organization.
Another subset of entrepreneurs that fascinates me is mommy entrepreneurs, or Mompreneurs. The research I have done has lead me to several conclusions. First, the ones that succeed are sensational multi-taskers, as all moms are. They have a keen ability to balance being both the CEO of the household and the owner of a business. The second conclusion I have come to is that more than many entrepreneurs, their business ideas identify and provide solutions to many of life’s problems. Or should I say opportunities? They have great stories, a passion for their work, and a drive that rivals most non-mom entrepreneurs I have met. Including myself.
To paint a clear picture and provide context, I have highlighted three mompreneurs and their success stories. A couple that have made it big and one that is just starting her journey.
1. Julie Aigner-Clark, The Baby Einstein Company
This is certainly a product line most of us parents have heard of as well as a classic entrepreneurial build-it-and-sell-it success story. The Baby Einstein Company was founded in 1997 by stay-at-home mom and former teacher Julie Aigner-Clark at her home in suburban Alpharetta, Georgia. Aigner-Clark and her husband invested $18,000 of their savings to produce the initial product, a Video Board Book, a VHS entitled Baby Einstein, later sold as Language Nursery. They saw the opportunity to develop products that assist in the intellectual development of a child from a very early age. I can’t tell you how many hours of Baby Einstein videos I have seen but I assure you its significant!
Baby Einstein grew revenues from $1 million in 1998 to over $10 million just a few years later in 2000. This growth, rapid brand recognition, and the quality of the products caught the eye of The Walt Disney Company who acquired the business for an undisclosed amount the following year in 2001. For about eight years following the acquisition the value of the brand continued to multiply and was rumored to be valued at $400 million at one point. Julie has since been involved in building a few start-ups, is a noteworthy speaker, and has her own website, Mommymade.com.
2. Sheila Lirio Marcelo, Care.com
Here is another remarkably successful problem-solving mom entrepreneur. Sheila’s inspiration to found Care.com was based on the foundation of solving a problem that she knew was not just her own. A young mother with two small children, Sheila was challenged to find quality child care solutions. She knew there had to be a better way than using the phone book or asking the neighbors if they knew a good sitter. Sheila founded Care.com in 2006 and today, the company is the largest online care destination in the world, with more than 10.7 million members across 16 countries. And it has certainly been a valuable resource for my family.
But Sheila’s success as a mom entrepreneur doesn’t end with Care.com. She has devoted much of her time to speaking on topics related to female entrepreneurship and leadership. She also founded WomenUp.org to increase women’s roles in the global economy by providing leadership training, mentorship and support to girls and women through every stage of their lives and careers.
3. Nicole Gleeson, Little Mizz Kit
This is another great example of seeing a need and providing a solution. What I really like about this story is the passion behind its purpose. Little Mizz Kit was recently founded by serial entrepreneur and mother of two, Nicole Gleeson. Nicole started several businesses in high school and college, took time off from entrepreneurship to work in corporate America, and then decided to fulfill her vision by launching this brand. Little Mizz Kit provides a monthly hands-on activity kit based on five specific pillars including Life Lessons, Fitness, Nutrition, How To’s, and Arts and Crafts with the goal of inspiring creativity and confidence in girls from an early age. Kits can include everything from lessons in etiquette and fun dance routines to recipes for nutritious snacks and do-it-yourself jewelry making.
What’s most special about this venture is that a portion of proceeds goes to March of Dimes. Why? Because the founder had a daughter that was born with a birth defect called gastroschisis. She had been working with the initial concepts for the business for a while but this new reality gave the project a soul and reason for being. Her family is now an ambassador family for March of Dimes.
While doing some research I came across some great resource sites for current or aspiring mommy entrepreneurs such as Themompreneur.com and Foundingmoms.com, as well as some great articles right here on Forbes such as ‘You Know You’re A Mom Entrepreneur When…’ All I can say is “keep up the great work ladies!”