Being a mum can be lonely. There’s lots of sleepless nights, messy days and stressful moments. This is something that no one knows better than Katie Massie Taylor and Sarah Hesz.
During one particularly bleak and rainy day in London, the two mums struck up a conversation at a local playground while their kids were playing. They instantly hit it off.
The pair stayed in touch over the months that followed. They shared their wisdom, time and swapped potty training stories over coffee.
Their friendship became a lifeline and while they were happy about this they realised that other mums might not be so lucky. As a result, the idea for their app Mush was born.
We caught up with co-founder Katie to find out more about this exciting tech startup that is taking the UK and Australia by storm.
In a nutshell, what does your company do?
Mush is a free app that provides a local social network for mums. After completing your profile you can see other mums nearby who you can message and meet. You also have access to mum knowledge from around the area, can buy swap and sell stuff and read brilliant content written to make mums feel great.
The Mush app was created to get mums together. We know that the crash course of motherhood feels so much easier when somebody says, “Mine does that, too!” It’s for mums who want to hang out at the swings, meet for coffee, arrange group get togethers, find running partners, go to the pub, or all of the above. Because it’s better when we do it together. #mushmums #mumlife #motherhood #newmum #parenting #mumsofinstagram #babies
Why do you think your company has been successful?
We were delighted that Mush has resonated with so many. Every mum can sympathise with the long and often lonely days of small children. With our really simple tool, we could change that. Mums tend to tell other mums everything too, so it has spread thanks to fans of the app.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
The backing of a prominent London VC is the most recent. This will give us the runway we need to really become the mum’s go-to app. Previously, it was working with the Royals to raise awareness of maternal mental health and every day, it is the feedback emails we get from mums who have found lifelong friends on Mush.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Creating an app with no technical experience was a challenge, especially when communicating with offshore developers in the early days. Trying to keep the app up to date with our vision of how it can improve also tests your patience. Coding takes a long time!
What is your team structure like?
Sarah and I are joint CEO and co-founders. We only starting hiring this time last year. We have a CTO/COO Alex who is brilliant at business decisions and managing the developers, an editor Isabel who sets the tone (and has now gone to have a baby!), a marketing manager Saskia who manages our community marketing, a designer Maria who looks after the UX, as well as 4-6 other contractors at any one time.
What traits do you look for in new hires?
When we are hiring, people have to be passionate about our mission. Mush is making a big difference and people have to convince us they understand it. Therefore it is often parents who make it past the first jump. Then we look for enthusiasm. Working in a startup relies on everyone having a can-do attitude because frankly, everything is possible! So we ideally hire from startups or hire people that have had their own businesses.
What advice would you give to someone considering starting their own business or applying for a job at a startup?
I would highly recommend experiencing it. The highs are high, the lows are low. Every day is different, and the world is your oyster. It is also not for the faint-hearted. If you are going to start something up, I wholly recommend doing it with a co-founder (way more fun!).
It’s a big day today. We’re thrilled to be part of @heads_together, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry’s mental health campaign. Keep an eye and ear out today as we’re currently up at the BBC to spend the morning promoting the fantastic #oktosay campaign and the film we’ve made about how plucking up the courage to chat to each other in a drizzly playground changed our lives and made being mums much less lonely. #oktosay
In your opinion, are there any challenges unique to female founders?
Some say raising money is a challenge for female founders but we have found the opposite. There is a real market for female entrepreneurs now. The support and goodwill are there for the taking. The only thing we may find more challenging is the work/home balance, as, like other working mums, you want to be with your kids too…
How do you measure success?
Success is the elimination of loneliness in mothers. In the short term, it is building a great product that mums visit multiple times, every day.
Finally, what is the one thing you wish people knew about your business?
I wish people knew that Mush stands for Mums Social Hub and that in old English it means ‘friend’.