Entrepreneurial Moms: Read This
The co-founders (and viral superstars!) of YouTube channel What’s Up Moms share what they’ve learned about creating a pro-family company.
If you’re a mom (or even if you’re not), chances are you’re familiar with the viral Iggy Azalea parody “I’m So Pregnant” on YouTube. We had a chance to chat with its creators—the co-founders, Elle Walker and Meg Resnikoff, and partner, Brooke Mahan, of What’s Up Moms. “What’s Up Moms really started from an organic place. I was looking for videos with tips on how to travel with a baby,” explains Elle. “It was quickly apparent that no one was making the type of content we wanted to see, so we decided to change that.” Although there is some great information out there in other formats, the women were drawn to video. “We really felt there was an opportunity to show, in addition to tell, and video lets us do that.” It’s clear their hilarious, informative approach has struck a chord—the What’s Up Moms YouTube channel has quickly grown to over 800,000 subscribers and 20 million views per month. “We have a lot of exciting plans for 2016, too,” says Elle. “We’ll have two new babies in the group; Brooke is due at the end of the year with her second and I’m expecting my third in March. We’ve started to see amazing support for our new Mom Hacks series—see some of our favorites, below—and we plan to expand the variety of topics and type of content we create.”
On top of maintaining a rapidly growing business, the What’s Up Moms team has become a shining example of what a mom-friendly work environment should be. With flexible hours and an in-office playroom, they’ve been able to hire super-talented people while allowing them to put family first. Elle, Meg and Brooke share what they’ve learned about growing a business while raising a family—and making it easier for more innovative companies to do the same.
1. Play to your strengths
“Turning our YouTube channel into a business felt very organic,” says Elle. “I had a background in production and had created many YouTube videos before, so I knew I loved the platform, but had no idea how people would react. Meg and Brooke had business and design backgrounds, and picked up the filming aspect extremely quickly as we started creating content. We were fortunate that advertisers like Kohler, Glad, Tide and Motts took notice of what we were doing and believed in us and our mission early on so that we could afford to keep it going.”
2. Be authentic
Early viral success helped spread the word and propel the trio further, faster. "Our video ‘I’m So Pregnant’ is now at almost 28 million views. That definitely helped to get the word out!” explains Brooke. “We work very hard to create compelling content that parents want to share with their friends. Do what you love. Viewers can tell when you are making content that you have a connection to,” says Meg.
3. Listen to your audience
“It’s about trial and error,” says Meg. “YouTube is a great for trying a bunch of ideas and seeing what viewers gravitate towards. We are constantly changing our editorial schedule based upon what we learn from how our audience is responding.” Brooke explains, “We focus on building an audience that is both loyal and inspiring at the same time. We get a lot of ideas from our community.”
4. Hire for talent (period)
“One of the most rewarding aspects of our job now is being able to hire talented moms who might otherwise not be working,” says Elle. “As moms, we have all had those days when we’ve had to rush out of the office to pick up a sick kid or come in late because of a field trip. It’s important to us to be there for as many family moments as we can, but it is equally as important to set an example for our kids to see us working hard for something we believe in,” explains Meg. “We’ve always said that we want the most talented people working for us regardless of whether they’re single, married, male, female, have kids and so on. If the best person is a mom (and many of them are!) we want to have a culture that makes working with us exciting and easy.”
5. Make it mom-friendly
“Every mom struggles with balance and I love that we have an open and supportive dialogue about it. We are fortunate to be able to sometimes incorporate our kids into filming, and we have a special area in our office for them,” says Elle. “When the kids aren’t at the office with us, we are very focused so that we can wrap in time for dinner and bedtime routines, even if that means (and it often does) that we continue to work via email after our kids have gone to bed.” Brooke weighs in, “There are a lot of inspiring companies taking innovative approaches on helping moms balance careers with families. We always believe that creating flexible schedules for both moms and dads is important.”