• Women 2.0 HowTo Conference San Francisco, September 30 - October 1, 2014

Misfit Moms Balancing Life and Building Science and Math Learning Apps

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We have come back. Now we design, code, build, develop, create and publish educational apps to teach our kids math, science and reading.

By Ana Redmond (CEO & Co-founder, Infinut)

Katherine and I are misfits in the computer software industry. Liz, a supportive former boss, once told us. “You can solve any software problem you put your mind to.”

Liz had complete faith in us. We both have degrees in computer science. Yet we both ended up stay-at-home moms through the typical trajectory of women in technology: we earned our degrees, worked hard, built a career, had kids, had inflexible jobs, got stressed-out, went part-time, and eventually stopped working altogether. We became the silent statistic and we accepted it and enjoyed being there to raise our children.

You wouldn’t have heard from us again were it not for our kids. Now that our daughters have started school, we’re no longer complacent in these roles. Our daughters are interested in math and science. They are smarter than us. They have potential. We now worry that they will be held back because of our experiences. We don’t know any engineers – male or female – whose daughters have followed them into engineering careers. We wonder whether we jinxed our daughter’s chances by giving up, and we’ll never know the answer to that question. But we now firmly believe that we must do what we can to make it better for them.

We have come back. Now we design, code, build, develop, create and publish educational apps to teach our kids math, science and reading. We took the 30 years of coding experience between the two of us and have gone for it. Even though gaming is an area neither of us worked in before, we are learning it as we develop the apps. We both know what our daughters respond to, and what distracts from their learning, and we’ve built that the special understanding into our apps. As engineers, we also understand what our kids must know to be successful – that’s where we get the ideas for the games we build.

We’re building our company on our own terms. We stay away from the inflexibility that drove us from the workforce in the first place. We work when we can – sometimes after the kids go to bed. The deadlines and release dates are fuzzy. Hours are never recorded. School appointments, taking care of sick kids, swim class – life – takes priority. We have meetings while our kids play together. Challenges are plentiful. We one-up each other with every new design, solution and app. The respect, friendship and trust we share with each other and the kids are more important to us than money.

You might ask, are we successful? Do we make money? Yes. We make some money – enough to cover expenses and draw a small salary. We may never make enough to replace our corporate salaries. But, there are little signs that our business is becoming a success. Kids using the apps are learning faster than their peers. Our kids are learning the value of creating software and building a business. They have a new found respect for their mothers and our abilities. Will that be enough to interest them in a career in technology? Time will tell.

Women 2.0 readers: What would be your advice to a stay-at-home mom considering starting a company?

About the guest blogger: Ana Redmond is CEO and Co-founder of Infinut.com – Learning with Kids. She is a software developer building educational mobile games for young kids. Prior to founding Infinut, Ana Redmond was a professional Java developer and consultant for 15 years. She has consulted for small startups to big fortune 500s. Ana holds a bachelors in Electrical Engineering from IIT, Delhi, and a Masters in Computer Science from the University of Washington.Follow her on Twitter at @anaredmond.