Movies like “I Don’t Know How She Does It” (2011) or “Bad Moms” (2016) tell viewers the same story: for women, having a full-time career and being a mom at the same time can be hard. To address this problem, a new Cambridge startup wants to make it easier to conciliate work and motherhood by helping mothers launch businesses that fit with their lives.
“People can become each others’ first customers on our platform.”
Co-founded by three mothers and startup veterans, Pepperlane is an online platform where mothers can both find and offer services by leveraging a network of people who understand what it’s like to wear multiple hats like mom, entrepreneur and small business owner.
“People can become each others’ first customers on our platform,” said Jess Petersen, head of product at Pepperlane. “We’re all very supportive of each other, and so it’s a lot easier to take that first step.”
Here’s how it works. By browsing online profiles, users can hire a mom to do something for them, from home cooking to accounting and emergency babysitting services. On the other hand, mothers can showcase their skillsets and find customers inside the Pepperlane community.
The platform offers specific resources for mothers who want to start their own business from scratch, including a valuation of their profiles before they go live. Most of the services people would need to start their business are already on the platform, Pepperlane pointed out.
Also, co-founders insists that Pepperlane showcases skills, not products. Services range from personal chef services to grief counseling to dog walking. There’s also a woman who employs teens as technology consultants to show older generations how to use their smartphones.
Launched officially in May, Pepperlane (which won’t disclose neither the number of current users nor the amount of its seed round from Accomplice) is an idea of Sharon Kan, who cofounded the Women Innovating Now Lab at Babson College and sold her startup Tikatok to Barnes & Noble. Its other co-founders are Petersen, who was an early employee at Carbonite, and Margaret McKenna, who spent over four years at Runkeeper.
Petersen added that the majority of issues they’ve seen with mothers starting their own business on Pepperlane have to do with their confidence. As a result, they try to support them by answering all their questions, including advice on how to price services.
“We provide all the website aid that you need, but we go way beyond just website tools,” Petersen said.