How to Be a Successful Mom & Startup Entrepreneur | M.H. Lines | Automaton Marketing | ENTREPRENEUR


Hello world good morning I’m Joia and
this is the Founders and Innovators Morning Show and today I’m so excited to
be here with MH who is the CEO and founder of Automaton and we wanted to
start our discussion today with something that I know I think doesn’t
get talked about enough in our entrepreneurial community which is all
about being both a mother and an entrepreneur so tell me what’s been your
experience with this phenomenon yeah it’s one of those things that I think as
founders were almost taught not to talk about like anyone who has been a woman
in a big profession we kind of almost sweep it under the rug you find that men
have all of their pictures of their kids out and women tend to not until really
recently it’s something that I think is kind of perpetrating some of this mommy
penalty myth in our society where women are penalized in their careers for
having children and men actually get a bonus they’re promoted they’re paid more
when they have children so it’s one of those things that I think we have to
talk about more and explore more and those of us who are in the really
fortunate situation to be a successful woman and mother we have to run around
screaming about that yeah I’m a mom I’m a startup founder and I can do both
proud probably not I was gonna say really well but we’re moms right like
passively well yeah I mean I’m not a mother yet but it’s definitely something
my husband and I were practicing but it’s definitely something that’s just on
the forefront of my mind is how do you be a successful mom and the successful
entrepreneur so I’d love to even hear a little bit more about your story and and
some advice you have for for those of us who are thinking about going on this
journey yeah I think we’re all thinking about it lately like if you look at
Melinda Gates equality can’t wait campaign talking about how women won’t
reach parity in this country for another 208 years which is just totally
disturbing and then you look at that this is happening when you graduate
college or when you gradually graduate school women
are at parity we have equal numbers of women actually more women graduate
college than men and they graduate and they have similar similar salaries so
we’re at near parity but it happens in our late 30s when women really are in
the kind of key childbearing age whether you actually have children or not that
we start to see the the parity decline yeah it affects all of us it’s there’s
85 percent women have children by the time they reach 40 and so there’s just
kind of this sweeping generalization that happens with all of us so I think
we need to fix that and so I actually didn’t think of any of that when I
started my company I really started my company I was a consultant I wound up
having to be a consultant because I was laid off while pregnant and turns out no
one will hire director or vice president who is very visibly showing and I’m not
one of those cute pregnant people I’m one of those like big..everyone knew I was pregnant. So I went into
consulting kind of by accident but wound up trying to build these massive
technology teams and just needed a DevOps style testing and quality product
for my marketing operations teams so my engineers and I helped build an internal
products and one of our clients was watching me use it and a meeting one day
and he’s like oh what tool is that I’d buy that no I kind of saw it as my
ticket out of consulting I admire the people who can do it but it’s it wasn’t
built for it so yeah so started I think I was pregnant with my third when we
started the company I had a two-year-old and a four-year-old at the moment mm-hmm
I loved that video of the executive on CNN where his like kids like strolls
into the back of his of his video interview mm-hmm I feel like that’s
pretty much all of my client interviews like they just accept that if I’m
working from home my kids are gonna be there most the time it’s it’s been
really a fun journey oh and I think the flexibility
you know sure I might work 12, 14 hours a day but I can take an hour and go walk
my kids to school and get to see their teachers and be a little more present
you have some control over my day so it’s it’s been a benefit being an
entrepreneur even in a space like I our company does SAAS integration technology
we help make sure that if someone’s got their marketing stack and their ad tech
stack that all of those things are hooked up and working as you expect
before you start pumping all of those millions of dollars into your AdWords
spend for instance so for us it’s not something that’s like kid centric right
like my kids being around doesn’t help make my product better so it makes our
funding journey even harder but oh there was a really cool research done a couple
of I think it came out about six months ago where they showed that all of the
progress that’s been made and women receiving venture capital all like
ninety nine percent of that has been going into female focused industries so
women who are solving problems for women are solving problems for children kind
of gender lens based investing so it hasn’t really reached those of us who
are audacious enough to try and sell something to enterprises for instance so
it’s the next problem we’ll solve right we’ll find a new problem every day and
we’ll take that on to that’s what we do as entrepreneurs so give us an insight
what is like your daily routine like being both mom and founder and CEO sure
so most mornings I try and get up about 5:00 because that’s you know everyone
has their own time when they’re most creative and most effective – early in
the morning so I try and get up for a couple hours before the kids do and in
work and then I head into the office generally about 7:00
and my husband oh gosh the work/life balance thing I thank God my husband is
so active and amazing so he takes over the kids until our nanny gets there
and then I’m in the office for the morning wound up spending as expected
half of it in meetings the other half with investors right now we’re we’re
funded so that’s a whole joy of of like non rejection and it feels like getting
ghosted by a boyfriend in college like we love you this is amazing we’re so
yeah that and the investor thing is so like not not rejection rejection it’s
such a weird little groove to be in but we’re officially starting raising in
October so hopefully it’ll get it easy once we officially start asking so I
spent lots of lunches lots of phone calls lots of visits and coffees with
folks right now pretty frequent trips to Silicon Valley we’re in Seattle so just
a little a quick flight down and then get home I get home at 4:00 and I
generally play with my kids at the park for a couple of hours get them to bed
and try and watch like jeopardy have a glass of wine and work on a blog post as
my as my normal at the moment nice let’s dive deep into your work though because
I feel you’re in just a really fascinating space so so tell me more
about that like what what do you see is like the really interesting trends going
on well I think the sass trend is the ones that were pretty directly over like
there’s tools like zapier and mule soft and all of these really cool integration
tools that let what they call it like democratizing IT right like right let
the everyday user be able to build their own integrations and build their own
really cool tech stocks and unfortunately we haven’t democratized
the tools that allow you to scale that and do it with quality so 78% of all
marketers are running a massive technology stack I mean spending and the
enterprise they have 91 tools and they’re tax and they’re managing nose
without any support from IT in the engineering but all the really cool QA
tools like New Relic or circle CI or page or duty all those really fun things
to use you have to be able to code so we’re trying to build a tool set like
that that the average business user can use to manage their technology stack
their Salesforce comm their Marketo HubSpot things like that to me that’s
absolutely fascinating because I see that as sort of this new wave of
startups and entrepreneurial ventures you know I feel like you know 10 15
years ago when the startup community was really starting up that’s what it was it
was this opportunity for people who could code for people who could be in
tech to start up a company and now I think we’ve reached this new level where
because of all this exciting SAS technology that’s been developed and
being developed it makes it possible for anyone who has connection to the
internet who has a computer and a cell phone to be able to use this technology
to build any kind of business whether you’re a coder or not yeah it makes for
an exciting new world that I think we’re just stepping into so I love to hear
stories of companies like yours that are really making this possible for the
everyday person who doesn’t necessarily want to be a tech coder person to be an
entrepreneur yeah no I think that’s a really great case hilariously for us
even though I’d manage development teams I don’t code much myself I can code some
in HTML and web development my my original co-founders and I built a
product partnering with an really amazing offshore team so we we built a
product as an MVP got it into the hands of customers and our development just
was going a little too slow not having like a true technology co-founder even
though all three of us were pretty technical hilariously we recruited our
newest co-founder is a guy named Eric Peterson that we recruited out of tableau
who just blows me away every day with his level of talent but when he got in
and looked at our product when we were interviewing him he was like oh okay
I can see how this product serves the need but you’re not gonna delight anyone the perspective of a technical
co-founder to come in and really see things from that technical perspective
can actually be pretty valuable too so yeah it’s it’s a really cool line that
we could build something ourselves but it’s been an incredible value to have
someone really brilliantly technical on our co-founding team so we’re almost out
of time but for people who want to know more how can they find out more about
you your company everything you’re up to sure where our website is www.automatoninc.com you can find the products you can find our blog where we talk about
women in technology and raising money we can also find links to our new developer
platform called crank which is really exciting so it’s it’s a fun journey and
also I would encourage any woman who needs help to reach out like I’ve been
amazed by the women who supported me helping introduce me to investors and
helping me get my head on straight and get through this so please feel free
anyone who needs me to reach out on LinkedIn I’m at linkedin.com/in/mhlines please feel free to connect with me and I’m happy to get back to this
community they’ve done incredible things for me so if you could give one piece of
advice to all the women out there who were looking for funding for their
company what would that be? There are a ton of blogs on medium and Twitter so
I would be really good at starting there because the investors are
everything they want you to understand about them and read start with those
blogs like there’s great communities like the Female Founders Alliance, Women
and Cloud they have amazing resources but sometimes we can be a little bit of
an echo chamber it’s really a place where we get supported not where we
necessarily get the hard truth so it’s nice to hear the hard truth from the
investors mouths themselves so Twitter and Medium seem to be where they’re
talking where do you get the hard truth from?
I mean I’m I’m fundraising and selling for my business right now so I get a lot
of the hard truth and like just you know waves whether it’s actual truth or it’s
their perception on a daily basis so close us out so just tell us what you
see next on the horizon for both your family and your business oh gosh I mean
I see my children with crayons and sharpies running down the hall for my
family for business I really see a tidal wave like this Melinda Gates stuff has
really lifted me up in the last month mm-hmm I see people really getting the
bias I think people have tried to solve the bias by putting women in financing
position but just because you have boobs doesn’t mean you’re not biased I think
this whole quality can’t wait campaign is really gonna kind of put a mirror in
people’s face and rising tides lifts all ships well thank you so much for being
here with me oh this is amazing it’s my first podcast well you acted like a pro
so thank you so much it was so thank you bye everybody see you next time good
morning thanks for joining us today please don’t forget to subscribe review
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