"It’s high time we use technology and build the solution. This is why I – a woman, a mother, a professional – started and am leading this software technology company." By Catheryne Nicholson (Co-Founder & CEO, MommaZoo)
I’m an engineer. I’m a mother. I’m a leader. I’m co-founder of MommaZoo. As with most women, the roads of my life are these: woman, career, mother. I had amazing teachers in high school and I fell in love with physics, geometry, and calculus. This led me to study aeronautical engineering at the U.S. Naval Academy.
It was tough. Really tough. Back then, many men (and women, unfortunately) had idiotic opinions that women did not belong at the Academy or the Navy (these were pre-Tailhook times). Same goes for women cutting it in engineering (this bias unfortunately still exists). That really pisses me off.
Fortunately, the Navy has come a long way. Unfortunately, the civilian world has not. I’ve spent well over a decade building software worth hundreds of millions of dollars for large and startup companies, and it’s my great disappointment to find women still lagging behind in pay and top-level positions. As my daughter was reading her book to me this evening, my thoughts drifted to her future and what she would become. I hope that when she comes of age, her career will be defined by merit, not gender. As all mothers do, I want the best in the world for my children.
It’s as a mother that the roads of my life converged. When my kids started school, I was appalled at the lack of technology. Technological advances seemed to have skipped over the problems faced by harried parents: I couldn’t believe I had to wait 3 months for a paper roster in order to learn the names of parents in my kids’ classes (how many times could I ask a parent who they were and which kid was theirs? At some point, it becomes embarrassing). I felt inept wading through emails and paper lists for ways to volunteer in my kids’ classes. As a working parent, I felt especially alone in trying to solve all my kid care and logistics problems. I longed for that elusive “village” that Hilary Clinton talked about.
And so as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of all invention. I’ve built software for other companies, why not build something that solves this? Who knows this problem better than I?
My co-founder, Matthieu Riou (architect/developer extraordinaire) and I began building MommaZoo this past summer. It’s a web and mobile app designed to help parents recognize, connect, and share resources with other parents. The mobile part is key because my smartphone is the only device I always have on me. It’s a great cheat sheet for me to remember everyone in my kids’ classes: at my son’s birthday party at the beginning of the school year, I’d ask my son for his friend’s name, type it in MommaZoo on my phone and instantly know the parent’s name. Since starting MommaZoo, I have also discovered and connected with three other parents from my kids’ classes who live within a block of me.
It is my hope that MommaZoo will lay the foundation for that village of parents to help one another. It’s high time we use technology and build the solution. This is why I – a woman, a mother, a professional – started and am leading this software technology company.
MommaZoo is my company. And the time is now.
This post was originally posted at MommaZoo.
About the guest blogger: Catheryne Nicholson is Co-Founder and CEO at MommaZoo. Between her multiple jobs and motherhood, she's always multi-tasking. Back when she had the luxury to concentrate on single tasks, she built energy and emissions management, CRM, and defense software for C3, Siebel Systems, and Northrop-Grumman. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering, a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering, an MBA and is a registered Professional Engineer in Mechanical Engineering.