What's Kept Me Going Through Startup Year 1: Purpose, Legacy, and Urgency

Friends,

It's an exciting time.  We are nearing our launch to go live (mark your calendars to download, February 10th!) so it felt opportune to reflect on this journey that started one year ago.  While we will keep you updated on product news, here's a deeper delve into my why...

I would distill my motivation drivers of founding Sittereco to three dimensions:  Purpose, Legacy, and Urgency.

PURPOSE

As a parent, and as a woman, the need felt real, and the vision, palpable.

AS A PARENT...

....Two young kids, two demanding careers, and a need and want to be the best parent and role model I could be.  While these dilemmas are nothing new to most working parents, I found that the more I talked to parents, the more I realized how broken the system really was.  We wanted trusted role models for our kids, yet struggled to find them using existing solutions like Care.com without a trusted friend's stamp of approval.   And our personal connections didn't always share their recommendations as they then had no back-up.  So as parents, we were screwed.  Forget finding role models for our kids...even bringing it down to fundamentally finding trusted care for our kids often felt like a huge challenge...

AS A WOMAN...

...As a working businesswoman over 15 years, I was no stranger to challenges, biases, and most of all, the voices in my head.  I realized over the years that my greatest downfall was more likely than not, how I held myself back...and if I had to simplify it into three words, LACK OF CONFIDENCE.

Now, in full disclosure, most people who know me personally are not likely to peg me as a person who lacked confidence, as I was racing with the best of them to chase my ambitions.  That said, it still reared its ugly head every now and then in my pursuits...

On the flip side, the biggest milestones of my career and life result from positive reinforcement of my family, friends, and mentors along the way.  The stronger the role models and relationships, the more likely I was to achieve my set goals.  Because even internal strength and confidence comes from external support of the right kind.  

And while this is not gender-specific, there are a multitude of studies that highlight the rise of the "Confidence Gap" between men and women.  One of my favorite articles on this subject is here: For Women To Rise, We Must Close the Confidence Gap

But it was the crossover between parenting and my own self-reflection, that highlighted the critical intersection point that made timing key in the pursuits of building confidence.

The need to build this confidence doesn't start in your 30s...it starts in your childhood.  It starts with young women in high school and college, as they aspire to pursue their life ambitions.  And in fact, it should start with little girls, who look around and see young women, older women, and role models of all kinds, who embody confidence in their pursuits, so that it no longer remains a possible roadblock.  But to get there, we need to bridge that confidence by pulling one another up.  And one way we can do that, is through Sittereco.  

Here was a chance to not only build a word-of-mouth mobile app network to solve out a trust challenge between parents and sitters, but perhaps more importantly, build a circle of empowerment between parents, sitters, and children (visually depicted below).  I had found my purpose...to support and empower parents, sitters, and women.

LEGACY

Aside from purpose on serving a clear need, I had my own personal aspiration to carry forward my greatest role model's legacy:  my dad, an entrepreneur who was years ahead of his time.

My dad, Hemang Bhatt, was an immigrant who came to America in 1969 with $8, no place to call home, and no connections of any kind.  So, like any resourceful person, he befriended a fellow Indian on the plane, secured a place to live for the week, and started his journey to build a life for himself.  From nothing, he built a small business and over time, wealth.  He used it to fund three children through university education, so they could have opportunity that he struggled to find.  He sent money home to his relatives so that they could dream and do, just as he had done.  Ultimately, he created a life for his family that nobody could have ever imagined.  He lived and embodied the "American Dream."

And through his journey of entrepreneurship, he shared a collection of life philosophies that came from his experiences and passed to him from generations prior.  Over the last year, I have referenced these Dad-isms repeatedly with Sittereco.  While originated in Gujarati, our native tongue, the translation is as follows:

  • Where there is a will, there is a way
  • Work will teach you work
  • Do today what you were meant to do tomorrow, do right now what you were meant to do today

This past Monday, Jan 23rd, marked my father's 1 year-death Anniversary.  It was the perfect reminder for me of where my passion to build, drive, and create change for good comes from: I inherited it from my Dad.  

And so my momentum to move quick, fast, and nimble over the last year has been driven by an immense motivation to build his legacy along with mine, with the hope to create more good for the next generation.  And for that inspiration, I am eternally grateful.

My Dad as a Leader (yes, that's 3-year-old me with a microphone on stage in the bottom right)

My Dad as a Leader (yes, that's 3-year-old me with a microphone on stage in the bottom right)

URGENCY

And finally, the last key driver to get Sittereco off the ground in the first year, has come from a historical political election year.  Political beliefs and stances aside, one bi-product of the Presidential Election Campaign of 2016 was a realization by most, of the importance and need of gender equality.  

The day after the election results, I received calls from some of my best female friends, with a call to action to stand behind women.  And I realized, well, I've been on this Sittereco journey of empowerment for 9 months now, and if anything, this only lit the fire to go harder, faster..

Women's March in the Twin Cities, 1/21/17

Women's March in the Twin Cities, 1/21/17

 

SUMMARY

So here we are, one year later, moving fast and intentional, driven by Purpose, Legacy, and Urgency.  And while this is why I started and where I leverage my internal fire to keep going, it is all of you, that make this entire journey and pursuit meaningful and worthwhile.  The hope to create a stronger community of support and empowerment for parents, sitters, and women, makes this set goal feel not only energizing and aspirational, but also achievable. 

Thank you so much for partnering with us to make a difference for parents, for sitters, for women.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again:  we are so much stronger with you than we could ever be, without you.

And get ready to download and share the app from the App and Google Play Stores on February 10th, 2017!