Before diving into the interview, we wanted to give a HUGE shoutout to Michelle and her team for raising their $12M Series A, in the midst of the pandemic! Now let's dive into this fascinating and inspiring interview.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and what inspired you to start Peanut?
It all started when I had my son Finlay. It didn’t make sense to me that my profession – I was Deputy CEO of Badoo and Director of Bumble at the time – was to enable people to find dates, yet I couldn’t find a like-minded mum to grab a coffee with? That just felt really wrong. It was also bizarre that, as a woman in tech, I was used to interacting with all these slick apps to order taxis or deliver food, but once I’d had Fin I was forced to use all these twee products marketed to mums that just didn’t feel like ‘me’. It felt like I had lost part of my identity. So I’d probably been thinking about Peanut for about two years before I pressed ‘go’.
What does your typical day look like?
There is no typical day! Although mornings are always chaotic because I have two little ones and a French Bulldog called Matilda! We’re up at 6am or 6:30am and it’s like clockwork: lay out the school uniform, feed the children, send Fin off to school. Once they're sorted, I head to work and arrive at the office around 9am (well, I did before we were in lockdown!). At Peanut, we’re a lean team so we all muck in and do everything. We might be working on the artwork for a new campaign, or chatting about our latest in-app feature. It’s very varied and everyone has a real sense of pride and ownership over what we’re creating.
What was the worst piece of advice you've ever received?
“I love you, but don’t you want to do something sexier? Mothers, really?”
When I’ve been out talking to investors about Peanut, it hasn’t been easy. I received advice like this, that if anything, has encouraged me to keep the conversation going around everything that Peanut stands for. Do I hope the stigma around motherhood goes and that people will stop talking to you like you’ve become a different person once you become a mother? Yes.
People need to realize that motherhood is an amazing chapter, but it doesn’t have to change your identity as a woman.
What does success mean to you?
Success for me is seeing tweets and emails from real-life women who have met through Peanut and it’s changed their perspective of motherhood or their fertility journey. Whether they’ve met to start a business, to have a playdate, or offer a shoulder to cry on, these real life experiences are so-uplifting. No woman should ever have to feel alone.
In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
My support network. As time has progressed, I have different women who I turn to for different things to help me. It’s important to have other people to help you overcome the voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough.
Do you have any morning routines or evening rituals to help you stay balanced?
Spending time with my children most of all. That’s one of greatest things about children, when you’re with them you are just 100% locked into that moment. They’re all-consuming in the best possible way. I also try not to have set times for going to bed. I used to do that but then when I didn’t manage it I felt like I was getting stuff wrong and it was just another stress; I think we’ve got enough pressures. I love a chamomile tea to wind down, and on an ideal Sunday night I would be in bed at 9pm watching TV. Then it would be lights out at 10:30pm - that’s my idea of heaven. I also swear by the Calm app for their Sleep Stories - I’m not into meditation but these are amazing and I’m quite religious about doing it. And at the end of the day, nothing beats a moment on the couch with a glass of wine!
Stay in your lane... you are exactly where you need to be.
What's an uncommon tip for new or expecting mothers that you wouldn't find on the first page of a Google search?
Don’t compare yourself to everyone else. I think that’s probably really impossible advice, but it’s so important. Everyone does things at different speeds. Your baby will do things at different speeds. You will too. It doesn’t matter. Just stay in your lane and don’t worry about it. You are exactly where you need to be.
The second one: Don’t say no to help ever. When I was a first-time mom, I really had this idea in my head where I was going to do everything myself. People offered to watch the baby while I had a nap and I was like ‘no, no I’m fine.’ And actually, there’s no rewards for being a hero. If people are offering you help, take it. You’ll benefit from it, and therefore the baby will benefit from it.
You can find Michelle on Instagram here: @michellekennedylon, and slide into Peanut's DM's here.
Learn more about Peanut here.
Peanut is the first social network to connect women at a similar stage in life. Peanut’s mission is to provide a safe space for like-minded women to build friendships, find support and learn from one another.