Women 2.0 PITCH finalist Sheri Atwood secures funding to help the 39 million divorced couples in North America more easily manage child support payments.
By Betsy Mikel (Editor, Women 2.0)
Managing child support payments is no one’s favorite thing to do. Except maybe Sheri Atwood, the CEO of SupportPay — which just announced a $1.1-million round of funding.
SupportPay is an automated child support payment platform company. At our last Women 2.0 conference, Atwood competed against 10 other finalists at our PITCH competition. After listening to 5-minute pitches from each startup founder, the judges selected SupportPay at the competition’s winner.
Now available as both an iOS app and on Android, SupportPay offers both a free “lite” version of its software and a paid version with more advanced features. According to TechCrunch, it now has 2,100 users in Australia, Canada, the U.K. and the U.S.
From Divorcee to Startup Founder
Atwood got the idea for the startup from her own experience. When she and her husband separated, they vowed their divorce would be amicable for the sake of their daughter.
“What I didn’t realize at the time was the easiest part of this entire process was the divorce,” Atwood says when she talks about her inspiration for founding the company. “Everyone thinks it’s the divorce that is the issue, but honestly a divorce is one and done — children are forever!"
As a single parent and an executive at Symantec, managing and enforcing the child support agreement became difficult and time consuming. If she had only had to manage one payment a month, the process might have been easier. But in many child support agreements, parents are supposed to split basic household expenses plus incremental expenses such as healthcare, education or any other special needs for the children.
“I began to feel more like a bill collector than anything else and the entire process was time consuming, exhausting and fraught with error,” Atwood says.
Like many startup founders, Atwood thought there had to be a better way to do it — both for herself and for other parents. So she quit her job and pursued an idea that she knew would change parents’ lives.
In a recent article in FastCompany, Atwood said she discovered many parents have no issue with paying child support, but they want to make sure the money is going to their child. So SupportPay allows parents to scan and store receipts to verify the expenses. Since alimony is tax deductible, the SupportPay software also helps families keep track of those expenses come April.
Here at Women 2.0, we’re always excited when our PITCH finalists go on to raise more funds to grow their businesses. We can’t wait to see where SupportPay goes from here!
Would you use an app like SupportPay to manage child support?
About the author: Betsy Mikel is the managing editor of Women 2.0 and runs the content consultancy Aveck. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and a lifelong obsession with French language and culture. When she's not biking all over every city she visits to find its best taqueria, you can find Betsy on Twitter at @betsym.