Thursday 18 October 2018

'I didn't know who I was after having a baby' - Peanut app founder wants to take the isolation out of motherhood

Michelle Kennedy
Michelle Kennedy
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

When this dating industry professional had a baby, she felt like she was losing her own identity and had nowhere, or no-one, to turn to.

Michelle Kennedy (34) was heavily invested in her professional life when she had her little boy Finn - and was quite unprepared for how motherhood would impact her life.

"I had just turned 30 and I was working at Badoo [dating platform] which was exciting and I loved it. I wasn't dating in my personal life but I was living vicariously through my friends," she told Independent.ie.

"Being a mum was the furthest thing from my mind and that was probably the problem. I felt like I'd bought all the stuff to be a mum, I'd gone out, I'd got the list, the new bits, painted the room, etc. But what I hadn't really thought about at all was the emotional side."

Without a background in connecting people, and no stranger to technology - Michelle was integral to launching Bumble [dating app] - the new mum decided that it was important to create a platform where like-minded mothers could meet and interact.

"None of my girlfriends were in the same position as me, I was the first. When my little boy arrived, I thought 'and now what?'," she said.

"It was extremely lonely, scary and quite isolating. I felt like I couldn't tell anyone and thought 'Oh I didn't expect to feel like this but I can't say it as everyone will think I'm a terrible mother'.

"I already had it in my head that maybe I wasn't a natural mum. I think that was the starting point as it was a time that was quite low and dark for me." 

Michelle left her job in January 2016, started building Peanut in September 2016 and launched in February 2017.

In November 2017, the app closed a successful seed investment round led by Sweet Capital Investment, who founded the gaming app Candy Crush, and Sound Ventures, the venture capital firm founded by A-lister Ashton Kutcher.

Peanut is aimed at a mobile-first generation, for mothers who don't want their conversations to be all about Pampers and pastel shades, and for women don’t want to lose or change their identity just because they’re new mums.

The app's co-founder and CTO is Greg Orlowski, the co-founder and former CTO of Deliveroo, and the smart algorithm he has built helps Peanut understand how each user engages with the app, personalising the experience and creating more meaningful connections.

A new 'Discover' has recently been added to the app in order to facilitate the connection between mums even more.

Using GPS location, the new feature helps users find mums nearby who have common interests. The app also includes various features designed to make the experience as seamless as possible, including group chats, the ability to suggest and poll meetup times, send invites and add them straight into users’ calendars.

"Even if you have five best friends on Peanut, you still want to have conversations across the community," said Michelle, who was born to an Irish mum.

"Even if people feel that they have these connections, being able to ask those wider community problems, just being able to see what other women's attitudes are, gives you validation or options, reasons to do things differently. That's why it becomes important to have the conversations."

Since its launch, Peanut has over 300k female members, generating over 17 million swipes.

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