Building Your Startup with a Mom Squad

At Thinkspace on October 18th I met Edward Hechter, former Web.com executive who helped take a company public as the COO. One of his biggest challenges was going from a super low point of having only enough cash flow for six days but had a workforce of 300 employees — of which he had to trim down to 80 employees in order to survive. Not only did he manage to help turn the company around from the low point, but, he helped rebuild that company into a very successful company.

Mom Squad

Edward’s, current company Party Pail has a fascinating story. He bootstrapped the company from zero revenue to over $4.43M in 2011 and was ranked 9th on the PSBJ Fastest Growing Companies List and recently sold the company in July 2012. That’s a very interesting and inspiring story, but, there’s another story that is just as interesting. It’s not that he did this, but, how he did this. He did this with a workforce that is 80% moms. Moms is defined as women who left their professional careers to raise children for a healthy period of time — some as long as 12 to 16 years.

Mom’s Are Reliable

Edward described some of the people and said that “Mom’s are reliable. They are hard workers. They get their job done in the amount of time that they have. They are loyal. They multitask”. From their blog: “They care for each other in the same way they care for their own families. And they care for each of our clients in the same way! They think about problems we face with love, and sensitivity, and they act on their maternal instincts.”

What Mom’s Want

“We found that the one thing almost each of these people wants in flexibility in how work intersects with their personal and family lives. As such, we’ve striven to create flexibility in our staffing to allow each of these people to work as many hours as they need, while also allowing them the opportunity to stay active in their family, school, and community interests.”

Can You Build a Startup With 80% Part-Timer Moms?

What do you think? Do you need to hire people that are working full-time? I think startup CEO’s think they need people that don’t just work full-time but work 60-80 hours a week. It’s very obvious that Edward has found a way to build an amazingly successful company without having to hire purely full-time staff. I am wondering from Edward or someone else who has done something similar, what is the biggest challenge in hiring so many part-time people. Are the positions primarily in overlapping positions? Were they positions of leadership? What would a startup need to have in place in order to be successful in doing something like this?

8 replies
  1. Jamie
    Jamie says:

    I think it depends on the type of culture you have set up that will determine when and where you need workers. I also think hiring moms is a great idea! Whenever I complain to my mom she says “now trying doing that while making dinner for two kids!”. Don’t let the sensitive nature fool you, they’re tough women.

    Reply
    • Peter Chee
      Peter Chee says:

      Your comment of “now try doing that while making dinner for two kids!” resonates with me. That’s awesome, that’s why moms understand how to get so much accomplished in a short period of time. The pace of life only gets faster and faster when a person starts a family.

      Reply
  2. Matt Heinz
    Matt Heinz says:

    Part-time staff can be a challenge, but the flexibility it allows you in terms of operational cost and execution can make it worth it. You just need good expectations on both sides so it’s clear what you’re getting, when and how.

    Reply
    • Peter Chee
      Peter Chee says:

      Thanks for the comment Matt. Flexibility is definitely what draws moms in. Being a parent, I’m always trying to figure out how to pack everything in between when the kids catch the bus and when I have to go pick them up.

      The part that I’d love to hear more about are the challenges of managing part-time staff. While I’ve hired part-time people I haven’t had to manage an army of part people. What Edward has done in his company is pretty amazing as 80% of them are part-time moms.

      Setting expectations is definitely important — totally agree with you there!

      Reply
  3. Sami
    Sami says:

    A mother truly is the most dedicated person you can find! Any company is lucky to have one. I agree with Jamie when she says it depends on the type of culture you have set up, but in most environments, it sounds like a great plan!

    Reply
  4. Michelle Hollomon
    Michelle Hollomon says:

    I can comment from a working mom’s point of view- flexibility is certainly key so the working mom can invest in her family first. But I think having personal buy-in is also key. If the working mom feels like she is bettering herself and her kids’ lives by working, she’ll be dedicated and successful. If she can see tangible positive results beyond just the paycheck, she’ll stick with it and any employer would be lucky to have her.

    Reply
    • Peter Chee
      Peter Chee says:

      Thanks Michelle for the comment! You mention “… the working mom can invest in her family first.” do you feel that is one of the challenges that employers have when think about hiring a mom as they try to align employees with the company’s priority?

      Reply

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