I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Kennedy, the CEO and co-founder of motherhood app Peanut. After recognizing the need for real-life connections between women at similar life stages who share common interests and location, Michelle created Peanut to give women a network.
Now with over 320K+ mamas on the app, Peanut has become a safe space for women to have honest conversations about everything from motherhood and pregnancy, to love & sex, work & money, and more, as well as build in-person friendships with nearby and like-minded mamas.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I started my career as an M&A lawyer at leading international law firm Mishcon de Reya. Later, I joined dating app, Badoo, where I was able to transform the internal legal offering, and eventually became Deputy CEO at
the $100m+ revenue generative market leader. I also played an integral role in the launch of dating app, Bumble.
Having worked in the dating apps industry for five years, I’ve developed an in-depth understanding of the safety and growth elements needed to build a social product.
Why did you found your company?
I started Peanut out of a couple frustrations. Before I had Fin, I felt like I was completely prepared. I bought the products and read the books, but it turned out that having a baby isn’t just about planning. I had lots of friends, and was successful professionally, and yet when I was home with my newborn, it felt isolating at times. My friends weren’t yet at the stage where they were having kids, so I found myself browsing outdated, anonymous blogs for baby advice at 2am, while my girlfriends were out in clubs.
I was also surprised to find that when I became a mother, there weren’t any modern tech products to help make the process of finding information or meeting like-minded and nearby mamas more accessible. I was used to using beautifully designed apps for every other aspect of my life, so it was shocking having to revert to products for motherhood that had an outdated, old-fashioned and patronizing feel to them. I created Peanut to connect like-minded women who are mothers, and provide a safe platform for mothers to ask questions, share learnings and be heard in a meaningful way.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
Feminism and motherhood have a complex relationship. The topic of motherhood is not widely talked about in the media. According to The Guardian, motherhood comes up in fewer than 3% of articles, yet the ideas
around mothering impact all women, whether they are mothers or not. I created Peanut to be a platform for modern motherhood.
I am firm believer that providing a place for women to come together and having a supportive community is critical to evolving conversations around motherhood, so this generation can leave the world in an even better place than we found it, as our mothers did for us.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?
I’ve been really fortunate to have many mentors in my career. Some male, some female. I think with a mentor, you take the parts of them that you find most inspiring and try to channel that when you most need it. Whether
it’s the tenacity to never give up, from the founder of my previous company), or recognizing the need to be you, even if everyone around you is different, from my lecturer at university.
How are you going to shake things up next?
We are continuing to evolve Peanut, which has become a platform for mamas to talk about every aspect of
motherhood — from breastfeeding in public, to sex after having a baby. We are committed to evolving the
conversation around motherhood and creating a safe space for women to share experiences and ask
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey?
Why Not You: If you see something you don’t believe in or that you disagree with, why can’t you be the person
to change it? To challenge it? It’s within your control to stand up for areas which require change. That’s what I
did with Peanut. It isn’t easy, it will not be without challenge, but it’s more important to take action than simply
give lip service to what requires change.
What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking?
I love How I Built This. I love the candid nature of the guests, who have all reached success, to able to share the realisms of the difficulties they’ve face. Whether that’s as a result of fundraising, or developments as their product grows.
Everytime I listen, I develop a new, keener interest in how to develop Peanut, or I feel a sense of encouragement. Whether that is as a result of the Rent the Runway founder discussing male reactions to the product, or Stitchfix founder talking about breaking with her co founder, every nugget provides a sense of
“we’ve all been there”.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Oprah. Let’s have drinks.
Originally published at medium.com