Very early-stage founder looking for advice/encouragement and leads for co-founder/advisors/mentors

Hello Elpha community,I joined Elpha about a year ago and have dipped in and out, always impressed by the quality of the conversation (and of course the guests). I left the corporate/larger organisations world a little over a year ago after many years of professional dissatisfaction and angst. As I was leaving my last job I just knew that I wanted to work for myself for a while (maybe forever), either as a consultant and/or entrepreneur/small business owner. I landed on a business/product idea to work on within a few months (a digital family assistance product/service for busy parents with young school-age kids called LIFEMIN - more detailed description below) and have been working on it ever since. *I’m posting here now for 2 reasons:#1 To get some feedback and encouragement from this community on my current mental state as a tentative first-time founder early in the process #2 To get ideas and leads for partners - co-founder and/or advisor(s) and/or mentor(s).*#1Over the last year I’ve been working on my idea I would say I’ve felt sheepish, shy and very tentative about it. In retrospect, I realise that a lot of that has to do with my confidence being really low as a result of years of knocks/setbacks in my career (which I undoubtedly took too personally). I also feel a little ashamed of being yet another ‘mumpreneur’ (have 3 kids)/not being able to come up with a more 'serious' idea and also a bit of genuine doubt that this idea is viable. On the one hand, I do feel my confidence building up again, feel myself getting more excited about the possibilities for the concept, and feel a little proud for having taken the plunge to do this at all and for what I’ve done so far (though it didn’t really feel like a choice). On the other hand, I look at what I’ve achieved over the past year and I feel really underwhelmed, and overwhelmed by what still needs to be done - both in the short term, just to get to my next milestone (testing willingness to pay), and of course the longer term (figuring out how to fund this thing, figuring out how to scale the tech even for just an MVP, the many more product and biz model milestones/tests I need to do, etc). I do feel the kernel of truth that I’m on the right path, that working for myself - or just having more of a sense of control over my professional life - is the right thing to do be doing right now. But I’m awfully scared and anxious about making sure that I’m not frittering away precious time, either to prove this concept out or earn some more dosh for my family and retirement, as I’m keenly aware of the opportunity cost of working for myself. (Despite my dissatisfaction and setbacks I was fairly high-earning and I could probably get another reasonably high-earning job eventually; am aware that covid has changed this calculation.) I know that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself and in my better moments I can tell myself that my pace hasn’t been *that* slow, considering that I’m working from home with kids and was doing some consulting last fall, and that I don’t have a ton of experience in building/operating (my jobs have been in strategy and partnerships). But for better or worse I have this image of myself or who I should/want to be that is hard-charging and FAST and I don’t feel like I’m living up to that. ANYWAY, what I really want help with is moving faster, and I think I really need at a minimum some sounding boards - mentors or advisors - and at a maximum a partner/co-founder - to help keep me out of the washing machine of thoughts that is my own head, and for some gentle pressure/accountability. Leading me to….#2*Elpha, can you help me get help?* Here's what I've done so far: Early on I put out feelers to my closest network of friends/former colleagues for a co-founder - mostly friends. It didn’t bear any fruit. Part of the problem is that I have a lot of negative feelings about my work past and despite having had good relationships with people in previous jobs, there aren’t many, maybe any, I feel comfortable reaching out to at this point and I’m not that confident there are that many from my corporate past who are willing to forgo an income and dive in with me (though of course I don’t know). I’m continuing to put our feelers to my network and maybe at some point soon I’ll post on LinkedIn. And maybe one of the freelancers/‘partners’ I bring in to help will prove her/himself to be co-founder material. I’ve also read posts here and elsewhere about how to find and vet co-founders (so I know try before you buy/date before you marry/vet for compatibility), and have signed up for networking tools like, for example. I also have a therapist whom I talk to on the emotional side of things. *But I thought in this helpful community I could potentially find:Mentor(s) - experienced founders whom I could speak to monthly or quarterly for support and guidance on what to focus on, getting good foundations in place, funding (bootstrapping vs fundraising), pace/holding yourself accountableAdvisor(s) - founders, investors or experienced operators to help with specific areas:- Technology/engineering (at the moment I’m pretty much using Google tools with some light development on top but unclear how I can scale this even for MVP)- Bizops - guidance on scaling a people/process intensive local/marketplace type business- Marketing - I know what to do and how from my previous work experience but it’s not my favourite). I’m self-funding right now so not in a position to pay cash for an advisor but depending on profile/commitment am open to equity-based comp.Co-founder - I think I'm most likely to find the right co-founder through my personal networks/experience, but if anyone falls in love with my idea or knows of someone who would, let me know and I can share a 'job spec'. *------------------------------About LIFEMINLifemin=Life+AdminLifemin is a digital assistant service for busy parents that helps them stay on top of the dates and to do’s associated with their children and their schools.The first iteration of the product is focused on the calendar: for a handful of schools, Lifemin scans the school websites and newsletters and automatically updates a user’s calendars with the important dates and to do’s. The calendar is the springboard for a fuller assistance service, where Lifemin will anticipate and provide streamlined, frictionless assistance with regular demands on parents' time - children's activities, childcare, birthday party organisation, travel - drawing on the skills and knowledge of other local parents. Research confirms what we know to be intuitively true: families with two working parents and two or more school age kids are the most stressed out, and a key hurdle in achieving gender parity in the workplace is motherhood. Raising human beings requires a lot of attention, time and management, the burden of which falls disproportionately on women. Lifemin aims to support busy families and in particular working mothers by reducing the administrative burdens of family life. So farMay-October 2019: Research and small introductory pilot with a handful of familiesOctober-December 2019: Alpha calendar product launchJanuary-March 2020: Beta calendar product development and re-launchApril 2020 - now: Ongoing product development, customer/marketing development, preparing for subscription test in August/September
Hey Olivia!Re-sharing a thread that you may find helpful:, @jenmy may be able to lend her insight re: marketing!Lastly, not sure if you've checked out our mentors and advisors directory on Elpha, but you may be able to find someone who resonates with your needs here:
Thanks for the tips, @teresaman - I will check all of those out
I'd love to talk @oliviaralston ! I'm a COO for women-run startups, expert in BD/ Growth & marketing, and how to scale early stage startups. If you want to talk, feel free to message me or choose a time here!
Thanks so much @KelseyMarie! Will do!
Hi Olivia, I LOVE the concept of Lifemin -- I'm a startup founder of 25 years and am happy to say that I've successfully raised 3 humans during that time. However, don't ever ask me what was going on at school during those two decades! The struggle of finding a co-founder is real! I've had some incredible business partners/co-founders (that's when I sold the company for millions) and I've also had one that nearly destroyed me (that's when I went out of business). It sounds like you're at an exciting time, prepping for subscription testing. I'm happy to talk to you -- you may get a few gold nuggets out of our conversation. :-) Message me and let's chat.
Thank you so much! Excited to speak to you, expect a message from me soon!
Hi Olivia! I just joined Elpha and your post is one of the first posts I read. I love your idea and though I don't have any leads for your specific requests, I just wanted to say that reading your post just made me feel less alone. I am a dentist, own a dental office, starting another company in totally different industry, trying to be a decent mom and wife and trying to figure out how to do everything well. Anyways, I wish you the best and look forward to seeing LifeMin come to life :)
Thanks so much Heather for your kind words - I wish you the best of luck too!
Thank you!