Succeeding as a Single Mother and Tech Startup Founder & CEO

single-mothers.jpg

By Bridget Thornton (Co-Founder & CEO, TrackIgnite) There has been a lot of buzz about women, particularly mothers, having a disadvantage as tech entrepreneurs. Women in tech find themselves alone in a sea of men at conferences or get passed over for funding by venture capitalists.

I hear the same argument all the time -- mothers can't dedicate 20 hours per day to their startup. Moms are the first line of response when the kids get sick and take on the majority of the household responsibilities. Therefore, there is no time for a woman with children to compete with their male counterparts in the big, bad, competitive world of tech startups. This is totally false.

I'm a single mom, a co-founder, and the CEO of a tech startup. I've been in tech startups for 16 years, 13 of which while being a mother. I developed my current startup from idea to viable product and the long-term strategy. I recruited the CTO. I do everything except the back-end coding.

On the flip side, I make dinner every night, do the grocery shopping, pay the bills, host slumber parties, drive the kids to their activities, and the laundry and housecleaning. A dude in his 20's working 20 hours a day only works on his startup. I basically have the life of a dude in his 20s running 3 startups, 2 of which are children. But I manage to compete on par, if not better than a lot of young men doing similar things.

Our company, TrackIgnite, is on target to launch as scheduled and the entire process took us 4 months from concept. The product is also on the cutting edge of health care 2.0 and personal health and fitness data aggregation -- an increasingly competitive market. In fact, we're are blowing away some well-funded competitors who are run by men.

How am I able to compete with 20-something child-less men?

First off, I'm competitive by nature, extremely driven and I believe in my product. I'm also highly organized and can manage my time better than most people I know. In fact, I think I succeed because I am single mom. I know the value of my time and I know there will be hiccups and scheduling conflicts. My kids know that while I'm cooking dinner I may be Skyping with my co-founder. While I'm driving them to school I may have a conference call with a potential integration partner. While they are asleep at night, I'm writing the pitch deck. I'm tweeting and texting in line at the grocery store.

The fact is, women entrepreneurs with children have an intimate relationship with time management and know how to prepare for failure.

I have to pivot and move on because I don't have the time dwell on the negative. My mind has to shift focus too. A 20-something startup guy has the tendency to make more mistakes at hour 27 of straight coding. He also has a myopic view of his product. He forgets to plan for the inevitable missteps. When I stop thinking about my product, I derive a lot more inspiration than those weekends without kids when I sit down for 48 straight hours and work.

I urge VCs and Angels to recognize the value of women entrepreneurs with children. I also hope women will stop using their kids as an excuse not to compete when in fact, kids can be a catalyst for a woman's success.

My company is gaining traction rapidly and as it grows I have less time to spend with the kids but in the end, the girls have become more independent; a quality that will serve them well as future entrepreneurs.

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Bridget Thornton is co-founder and CEO of TrackIgnite, a dashboard for health and fitness applications. She has worked in new tech startups since 1995 and juggles both long start up hours and children. She's built TrackIgnite to make her life simpler and improve her physical and mental health. She blogs at TrackIgnite. Follow her on Twitter at @iammzbridget and her startup at @TrackIgnite.