This week, we’re shining a light on coding mum, Tinu.
Tinu recently completed a cohort at Mums in Technology while on maternity leave with her 7 month-old baby boy. Her background is in project management at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office where she spent almost 9 years before deciding to make the move into tech.
She was attracted to the tech industry because of the creativity and flexibility it offers. Given that she is just embarking on motherhood, she feels that its important to have a work-life balance that would allow her to feel inspired and motivated at work while still being able to spend time with her family.
Her start-up, BabyPoint, is more about increasing mobility for mums, dads, primary caretakers and nannies or helping them to get out the house more often. It is opening up new niche channels for restaurants and public places to market new or existing products and tap into revenue streams that previously seemed out-of-reach as a result of the lack of know-how or insight into how a 'child-friendly' place would be marketed without compromising the brand's primary target market.
This is Tinu's journey, and it's only just begun.
N: How did you come about enrolling in a coding course? What inspired you?
A: I came across the course at a start-up event hosted by Mums In Tech at ThoughtWorks. I signed up, and since then I’ve started my own start-up alongside my husband (the CTO). We are building a mobile app for parents to find child friendly places to eat, drink and socialise named BabyPoint.
N: Wow. So a 6-week coding course and you’re now the co-founder of a tech start-up! How did you come about the idea for the app?
A: I initially came about it as I was feeling very isolated and finding it really difficult to go to places with my son. I felt there wasn’t enough easily accessible information for mums that would alleviate some of the stress we associate with taking young babies out of the house, and can often lead us to stay at home all day. I’m talking about basic amenities and perks at restaurants and other public places like nappy changing stations and feeding rooms (or feeding friendly places). The app highlights facilities that are available at a particular venue so parents can make informed decisions about where to go.
N: I love that you're solving a problem that is so relevant to you. It will definitely play a part in your success. What I am curious about right now is to know more about the challenges you’ve faced as a female founder?
A: The beginning stages have been incredibly challenging purely because of how much information you need to process on an ongoing basis. I’ve found it difficult to know how to get social media savvy (follow on @babypointapp) and how to balance my startup with my primary role of caring for my son.
N: What has helped you to overcome this?
A: I joined a parentpreneur ‘start-up accelerator’. It teaches you how to be an entrepreneur when you have children. It helps you to understand what to do, and when to do it; and has been really useful given the steep learning curve myself and my husband have embarked on.
How did your background as a project manager help you to deal with the ‘start-up grind’?
A: I’ve never done anything like this before, but my project management skills have really helped me to manage and organize efficiently. What I think has been more interesting is to see the some of the skills and ‘ways of doing things’ in tech overlap with those in day-to-day project management. Like Agile methodologies for instance, I love it, it's so transparent and just makes sense… My husband and I do a daily stand-up in the morning with our UX designer and use a trello board to monitor progress. We have retrospectives and use the Lean principles as our foundation.
N: What would you say has been the biggest support through it all?
A: My husband is super supportive and I feel really blessed that he has encouraged me to to try things like product ownership, agile and scrum. Other than that, Mums In Tech are absolutely amazing. The people I’ve met are among the kindest I’ve met in a long time. They have this amazing ability to help you, uplift you and encourage you to improve. In fact, what I’ve taken from the experience hasn't been so much about ‘coding in HTML’ but more about being supported by other women and knowing that you can do anything if you put your mind to it and having a baby can open doors and not necessarily close them. As you can’t learn everything in 6 weeks, the course is more about giving you the ‘coding bug’ and motivation to continue to pursue it.
N: Since your entry into the tech industry, have you had any negative experiences that would discourage you from pursuing your new career path as a result of your gender?
A: It’s funny you say that because while we expect it to happen, I honestly haven’t experienced any negativity, bias or stereotyping from men. The only negative experience I’ve had so far has come from a woman who was surprised to hear that ‘a woman’ was starting her own company.
N: What would be your words of wisdom to other women who are thinking of transitioning from a project management position into the tech industry?
A: Go for it! There are so many similarities and differences that are truly compelling. Don't be afraid to try a different approach to delivering outcomes. The tech industry is a wonderful world of forward thinking and world changers; and there really is something for everyone.
No one ever said it would be easy, but Tinu shows us hard work pays off. I'd like to mention that whilst Tinu and I were chatting, her baby was having a moment (as baby's do) in the background, and it resonated with me how tough it must be to juggle everything, and how important it is to have your own passions and solve problems close to your heart. That is one of the greatest wonders of being a female founder and a woman in tech.
We'd like to thank Tinu so much for taking the time to chat to us, and wish her all the best with her app! Follow her on Twitter for more updates and stay tuned for the next lady on our 100 Inspiring Women in Tech list.