Katie and Sarah wanted to chat and meet up with other like-minded mums who have kids of the same age – and so, they invented Mush! Katie tells us more.
Tell us about your business, what does it do?
I first met my Mush co-founder (Sarah Hesz) on a cold wet morning in a playground. After exchanging numbers, we soon realised how many other new mums struggled with feelings of isolation and loneliness like we did.
Taking inspiration from dating apps such as Tinder, we spent a year creating an app that would help mums to chat and meet up with other like-minded mums who have kids of the same age. And ta-da, Mush was born. On the app, mums can see each other’s photos and interests, group chat and now have conversations around everything mum-related in their neighbourhood.
What did you do before you started this business?
I was an equity derivatives broker, and Sarah spent ten years in the advertising industry.
My experience did a huge amount to lead me to where I am now. It taught me to be tenacious and assert my opinion - partly because I was a solo female on the desk. It also taught me how to hustle; only I could stand up for my potential success on the desk. It goes to show you can take any experience and let it mould you in a positive way!
What inspired you to start up?
Honestly, my co-founder Sarah Hesz was my top source of inspiration, if that’s not too cheesy. I have a huge amount of respect for people who set up businesses by themselves, because we couldn’t have done it alone. We egged each other on to get stuff done and had fun doing it. It wasn’t daunting when there were two of us learning stuff together. And we don’t want to let each other down now!
Getting inspiration from other businesses was so important to us when we started Mush. We’ve teamed up with Plusnet for this year’s Plusnet Pioneers campaign which aims to help and inspire others looking to set up a new business.
How would you describe your business to your grandma?
I would say to my Granny… “Remember how you spent your child rearing years by yourself in your house without friends around you to support you? Well that was an even bigger shock for women in the last twenty years, so we have created an easy way for mums to spend a lot more time with other mums, rather than trying to handle everything by themselves. It’s through an app…” [cue confusion].
Where do you get advice, support or help?
There’s so many great online websites and portals that can offer brilliant sources of advice. Sarah and I are big fans of StartUps.co.uk. They have partnered with Plusnet to launch this year’s Plusnet Pioneers campaign. It’s a great content driven programme that provides advice and support that is aimed at helping startup business owners as they build and grow their companies.
Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?
We were too advanced for the earliest stage of funding (seed-stage), but we weren’t quite advanced enough for venture capital money. Having already built a large following of mums through their marketing efforts, we thought that crowdfunding would work really well for Mush.
We knew we had a product that was very simple and relatable, and we found that raising money through your followers (crowdfunding) is a wonderfully tactful approach if you’re trying to build up a rapport with your audience. Plus, it gives you a great marketing campaign too!
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
The biggest achievement for us was getting out our first version of the product and seeing it provide unbelievable support for mums. We had no tech expertise, a buggy app and an average user experience, but my goodness did it resonate with people. We captured a real need for mums, and our authentic and apologetic approach to making it better has only reinforced the support from our users.
How do you differentiate your business from others?
The mum platforms of the past have been forums on which you can anonymously post questions and comments. Mush makes users accountable and real, meaning conversations happen within a local area where mums can meet in real life. We are the first platform to use an app as a means for offline meetups, rather than online communication.
As competitors spring up (as many have), Mush is focusing on the importance of building real life relationships.
What’s it like to be your own boss?
It is a hugely positive experience. I can manage my diary, manage my destiny and drive change. But the downsides are I am never ‘off’, always accountable and always busy. Though these pressures bring out the best in some people.
Where do you see your business in 5 years time?
Mush will be the main hub that you come to as a mum, to be your mum persona. It will be your local social network for your mum life. It will be mums’ maternal companion, and it will be a no brainer to be part of.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Securing your first round of funding can be hard, so you need to realise that selling your brand story is just as important as selling the idea itself. Your pitch deck needs to be compelling, with a top-notch narrative that explains the market, the problem in the market, and importantly your solution to that problem.
And even if your pitch doesn’t go to plan, always ask for a referral. You’d be amazed at how many people will help you to meet the correct backer further down the line!
Sarah and Katie are ambassadors for this years’ Plusnet Pioneers campaign, an advice and support programme aimed at helping startup business owners as they build and grow their companies.
Our BQ Bulletin emails will land in your inbox at 7.30am, Monday to Friday, with a mix of the latest local business news, national news, and features to inspire you. Sign up here!
Click here to read our privacy statement