Shiela Marcelo featured in "First Monday: New in business TV, Movies, Books, Magazines"5 Questions For: Sheila Marcelo
December 06, 2010
by Charisse Jones
Sheila Marcelo is CEO of Care.com, a company she founded in 2006 that connects families to caregivers who provide services ranging from child and senior care to tutoring and housekeeping. The company has raised $36 million in financing and is the biggest online resource for family care services.
A former executive at such Internet businesses as Upromise and TheLadders, Marcelo was named one of the Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit last year. She was also an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in New England for 2010.
Q: What inspired you to start this business?
A: I was a young mother in college and realized how hard it is to find care for your family. At the same time, I wasn’t fully educated on looking into the quality of care. So many families lack the understanding of the importance of finding great quality care and resources where they can turn to. That also includes elder care, because my father had quadruple bypass surgery. It was difficult finding care for him as well.
Q: Did you hesitate to start a company so focused on women?
A: Initially I was worried that my male colleagues or counterparts might (think) I was working on something not sexy or high-tech enough. And it really didn’t matter. What really mattered was what I was passionate about, and that was helping families.
Q: What advice do you give to up-and-coming entrepreneurs?
A: Definitely pursue your passion, but share your ideas with a lot of people so they can weigh in and give advice. And have mentors, because sometimes you become overly passionate, you drink your own Kool-Aid. I’m a big believer that you’re always testing and iterating.
Q: What’s an example of something you tested in your business and changed as a result?
A: We had originally charged a registration fee, and we tested and realized that consumers didn’t like it. So we eliminated it. I’m a big believer in change. Everyone in the company changes seats every single year so people get to know each other. They’re learning about other people’s jobs. And at the same time, it’s to embrace change and be comfortable with change and (know) that change is OK.
Q: How have you incorporated work-life balance into your company’s culture?
A: It’s managing expectations. The hours are long, but it’s giving employees the flexibility to decide how to work those hours given their family constraints. There are challenges to that when you’re trying to do team meetings. But we’re trying to make it work because it’s important to be home for dinner, to do the morning drop-off, so you’re maximizing time with your children. If you’re an employer, technology permits us to communicate in different ways and to still get the work done. So why not allow the balance that people are looking for and that our families need?