One of the little discussed truths of becoming a mom is how isolated you can feel. You might find yourself with a new human being to raise and it can feel as though all of your friends have suddenly gone missing in action. Thanks to Michelle Kennedy, its not just your single friends (who stopped calling once you had a baby, natch!) who get to swipe right anymore. Armed with tech and dating experience from her time at Bumble, Kennedy created Peanut as a way to connect moms who might find themselves in new cities, have a baby of a different age group than their circle or who are just plain looking for some new friends.
Similar to dating apps like Tinder, Peanut users log in with their Facebook accounts (keeping mamas safe) and a geolocation tool allows them to connect with mothers nearby. The free app uses an algorithm to match mothers with similar interests — users can identify themselves with fun badges like “Fitness Fiend,” “Wine Time” and “Music Is My Medicine” — and experiences, whether it’s having a child with special needs or being a single mother. It also syncs with the calendar on a smartphone for easy scheduling. We checked in with Kennedy on how she balances running a start up with a toddler, her favorite life hacks and why women don’t appreciate being talked down to just because they’ve become mothers.
What was the impetus for starting Peanut?
Peanut was born out of 2 main issues:
The first was the emotional aspect of becoming a mother. My girlfriends weren’t at the stage in their lives where they were having children yet, and even if some of my wider friendship group were, we all lived in different parts of the city (and leaving the house to go anywhere further than 10 minutes from home with a newborn felt like a military operation). I suppose what I felt most prominently, which isn’t particularly comfortable for a 30-something woman to admit, is that even though I had lots of friends and was successful professionally, I felt quite isolated. This was further compounded by the fact that I was working in an industry (dating), where it was my day-to-day to produce products people could use to find a match, or a date, and I was struggling to find a woman who was like-minded to go for a coffee with.
The second was my frustration with the existing products on the market aimed at mothers. I didn’t recognize the tone of voice the products used, or the UX/UI being used. They felt outdated, old fashioned, and in some cases patronizing. To me, I didn’t feel like I’d suddenly aged, or become less modern, less cool, just because I’d become a mother, and yet, the products seemed to have that expectation. I found that confusing. I still had an expectation of great user experience, from products like Uber, or Instagram, but I wasn’t getting that from the products for mothers that were out there.
How many users do you currently have registered?
In three short months, Peanut has tens of thousands of women using the app every week.
Do you have to have a Facebook account to get started?
Have you met many new friends through the App yourself?
YES! I have several who I meet regularly. One mama in particular now works for Peanut-networking as well as making friends!
What is the biggest challenge of running a startup with a little one?
I think I’ve long since accepted that ‘me time’ doesn’t really exist! But I care deeply about what i’m doing, and my son Fin is everything, so if I am not working, I want to be with him and my family. I do find the travel a challenge sometimes-we speak everyday on Facetime, and he always looks forward to the gifts from ‘North America’, but I miss his physical presence so much.
Do whatever suits you to find your crew. As soon as you do, you will realise that life becomes that littler brighter. Having like minded women to support you, who understand your stage in life is so important for confidence and for wellness. They used to say it takes a village, there is a reason for that.
Is there one city where you’ve seen the most connections?
We see thousands of women in cities across the country. The mamas of New York, Dallas and LA have been very busy lately!
Do you have any time management or life hacks you can share?
Lists! Lists of lists! But the real key, is putting the list in a place where you can action it on seeing the reminder. If you need to make some life admin calls, stick your list in your car, and make the calls on the school run/way to work. If you need to do it first thing, stick it on your closet door. Oh, and plan your outfit the night before-free up your head space.
What advice do you wish someone had told you about becoming a mother?
I wish that more women had felt able to be honest about some of the challenges. Whether that be the loneliness, or the fact that yes, it’s annoying when people occasionally forget to talk to you like you, but talk to you as ‘mommy’. I think 3 years ago, we were still nervous that we would be judged a ‘bad mom’ if we said some of the things we were thinking. We’re in a great position with Peanut. We have a platform to use our voice, and share these feelings, and bring women together to have the conversations they want and need to have so that they don’t don’t fear being ‘the only woman in the world’ who feels a certain way…
He loves the Natural History Museum, and the most delicious gelato stand on 5th and 72.