Recently, the Nurture Parenting team heard about the hot new Peanut app and made a note to find out more about this social network which aims to connect lonely and isolated mums. A few days later we were thrilled when the team at Peanut contacted us to see if we would be interested in interviewing their founder Michelle Kennedy.
Michelle (pictured above with her son Fin) is one clever lady. She was part of the launch of the dating app Bumble, and designed Peanut with the aim to connect likeminded women (who happen to be mothers) and in doing so make motherhood less lonely. This was a challenge Michelle struggled with personally and she knew she had the experience to make a difference.
If you haven’t already, we suggest you check it out (www.peanut-app.io). Apple has called it ‘the mother of all social networks’. Already available in the UK, US, Canada and now Australia. The app launched here in August and has been dubbed the new ‘Tinder’ for mums. Apparently over 5,000 Sydney based mothers signed up in the first two weeks of launch!
Read below for our interview with Michelle!
What was it that inspired you to start up the app?
Peanut was born out of two main issues.The first was the emotional aspect of becoming a mother. Before Fin arrived, I felt prepared. I had bought everything I needed, I’d read a few books. Turns out, the arrival of a baby isn’t just about planning. There are feelings and demands that you can’t plan for. My girlfriends weren’t at the stage in their life where they were yet having children, and even if some of my wider friendship group were, we all lived in different parts of the city (and leaving the house to go anywhere further than 10 minutes from home with a new born felt like a military operation). I suppose what I felt most prominently, which isn’t particularly comfortable for a 30 something woman to admit, is that I was lonely. I had lots of friends, I was successful professionally, and yet, when I was at home, I felt lonely. This was further compounded by the fact that I was working in an industry (dating), where it was my day to day to produce products people could use to find a match, or a date, and I was struggling to find a woman who was like minded to go for a coffee with. A little like dating, I also experienced a lot of “I have to introduce you to my friend, she’s a new mommy too”, only to go through an awkward date where you realize the only thing you have in common is the fact that you both have a child. You don’t share the same outlook on life, values, interests. That’s actually even more isolating to be honest.
The second was my frustration with the existing products on the market aimed at Mothers. I didn’t recognize the tone of voice the products used, or the look and feel of the products. They felt outdated, old fashioned, and in some cases patronizing. To me, I didn’t feel like I’d suddenly aged, or become less modern, less cool, just because I’d become a mom, and yet, the products seemed to have that expectation. I found that confusing. I still had an expectation of great user experience, from products like Uber, or Instagram, but I wasn’t getting that.
Can you tell us more about your background and experience?
I was formerly an M&A lawyer at leading international law firm, Mishcon de Reya. I was working frequently for one particular client (in life sciences) who asked me to go to work for them as their in-house counsel. During my time there, I received a call from one of the partners I used to work for at Mishcon who had a new client, a ‘young guy with a killer business’. That young guy was Andrey Andreev, founder of Badoo. We met, and over spaghetti carbonara, I started to learn more about the business of (then) online dating. He was funny, intriguing, and it sounded exciting (this was before tech was even a ‘thing’ in London really). I joined Badoo and eventually rose to Deputy CEO, and working day-to-day with Andrey as his right hand. As part of my tenure at Badoo, I was integral to the launch of Bumble and part of the inaugural board. I left in January 2016 to start Peanut.
What do you see Peanut doing for new mothers?
Whether you’re a new mother and feel like you need the support of other mamas, or you have older toddlers and children, but feel your social world has shrunk in size since the arrival of motherhood, we want to provide a platform for a community of likeminded women who want to connect. The other main benefit is feeling a connection with the way the product looks, and the tone of voice it uses, you want to use a product which
you feel represents you and the time of woman you are, not something that feels outmoded, and out of date…
How many children do you have? How old are they now?
I have a 4 year old, Fin. He was the reason I created Peanut.
What was your experience like as a new mother?
I entered motherhood, and I genuinely didn’t have that support network (my girlfriend’s weren’t at that stage). So, I wanted to take everything I knew about connecting people romantically and apply it to women who were mothers.
Can you please paint a picture of what life looks like for you bringing up your children, e.g. Where were you living, is your husband supportive, your work/life balance etc.
Balance! I don’t think that exists! I live in Northwest London with my husband, and he’s brilliant. We’re a team in every sense of the word, because we have to be. We work together to manage work and life. That means we take it in turns to work late if we need to, and I can only do what I do with Peanut because of that relationship. But I do believe we should stop telling women about balance. Because when they feel they don’t have balance, they feel like they’re failing. We’re all juggling, and that’s ok.
What things did you do with your baby?
Everything! Reading, playing superheroes (constantly at the moment!), painting, and just chatting. He’s the most interesting little person, and I love hearing his view on the world.
Do you enjoy motherhood?
Motherhood is everything to me. It has been the most intense, rewarding and challenging chapter of my life, which continues to evolve, and it continues to surprise me. I’m learning as I go. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don’t. The art is learning to forgive myself when I am not living up to what I thought the perfect image of motherhood would be.
What is the best thing about motherhood?
Seeing the world through Fin’s eyes. He is so completely innocent. He questions things which are wrong. He has such a strong and rooted sense of natural justice, I just love to see that.
What are the hardest things about motherhood?
Will I ever sleep past 630am ever again?! I accept a constant state of feeling tired, I think that’s just my life now! That, and on a more serious note, I feel a huge sense of responsibility to do the right thing, to educate Fin, to show him right from wrong. Siometimes I worry about getting that wrong.
Can you please share your favourite online parenting resources?