Lisa Merryweather-Millard & Marina Wild

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Interview with Lisa Merryweather-Millard & Marina Wild

We look for startups and businesses solving problems to help inclusion and equality. FamilyPA is a Buildily Sponsored Startup helping them to reduce their burn rate through the access of the Buildily Business Benefits

Hi, can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?

We are Lisa Merryweather-Millard & Marina Wild and we are the founders at FamilyPA. FamilyPA, makes it easier for any family to juggle their home-life and work-life. If you’re a parent, working or not, who could use help with the family admin and organisation of childcare and out-of-school activities, FamilyPA is for you. The ‘eureka idea moment’ came when Marina and I were both panicking about the imminent summer holidays. We had a stack of work and lots of meetings scheduled and no one to take care of our children over the six week break. Both of us ended up spending hours on various providers websites, on the phone, on social media searching for childcare that worked around our schedules. It was then, stressed out, frustrated and at our wits end, that we realised the additional strain put on working parents in terms of the admin (and mental load) of finding and booking suitable, safe, vetted, fun childcare. Through further research we found, according to the ONS, mothers of school-aged children spend roughly 36 hours per week on unpaid work including the household and family admin as opposed to the average 16 hours per week put in by men. Not only is this inhibitive to a healthy work/life balance but it’s also a huge inhibitor to equality in the workplace and at home – and a potential contributing factor as to why there continues to be fewer female entrepreneurs and fewer women in senior and executive positions.

You are solving such a big problem for working families, how did your experiences in the industry help you to address the right market fit?

(Lisa) In a previous life, I was an Assistant Principal for a large secondary school. When I resigned from education I set up a graphic design studio called Rather Nice Design with my husband, an established and highly experienced graphic designer. Through the design studio, in between client projects, we set up a family lifestyle magazine called The Little Things Magazine which is when Marina and I met. Marina had been working in the art world and most recently had been supporting SMEs with marketing and event planning. Through working on the magazine we were able to really explore the issues facing working parents. At the top of the list was juggling home life and work life, specifically the admin involved in sorting school holiday childcare and out-of-school activities. That’s when we hatched a plan to make life easier for parents with FamilyPA.

You’ve really found a great market fit which is one of the keys often related to business success. Is that one of the reasons you’ve had such a great start to FamilyPA?

Since inception in July 2019, we’ve been working hard on the foundations of FamilyPA. We’ve undertaken extensive primary and secondary research to make sure FamilyPA meets customer needs and engaged a range of innovative thinkers and doers in the tech industry to ensure the best user experience. We’re physically based in the South West of England but have global ambitions to support working parents. We’ve been extremely fortunate to have the support of so many amazing people along the way – our mentors and colleagues at the NatWest Accelerator Hub in Bristol, Yeovil Innovation Centre for believing in our idea from the start, Business West for great introductions and mentorship, Innovate UK, the University of Bristol Physics and Team Entrepreneur staff and students for their fresh thinking, new ideas and know-how, Spin-Up Science in Bristol for putting in touch with tech wizards and of course Buildily for providing us with access to the Buildily Benefits worth £35,000+. There is so much support and good will on offer if you are willing to be open to each and every opportunity.
“If you have that passion for entrepreneurship, pursue it. “ Lisa Merryweather-Millard & Marina Wild

What’s been your lessons in entrepreneurship and key tips to others considering to become an entrepreneur?

Each and every week week we take a kicking. It’s what happens when you start something new. You’re not very good at things at first and you get told often that you / your idea / your execution of your idea isn’t good enough. It’s exactly that feedback that makes you / your idea / your execution of your idea better. As an entrepreneur, being told you’re great doesn’t move you forward. Be grateful for your kickings and be sure to learn from them. Consider every bit of feedback or advice you receive, especially when it makes you angry. That’s where the learning is. If you have that passion for entrepreneurship, pursue it. Find out what you need to know, find the people to help you and go for it. Use other’s doubt to propel and inspire you. Be ready to fail, then get up again and again and AGAIN.

Great insight, from your experiences what advice do you think every startup should know?

  1. Speak to anyone and everyone. Tell them about you and your idea. often they will be able to help or will know someone who can.
  2. Research. Find out everything there is to know and seek out opportunities.
  3. Apply for anything and everything that is relevant to your idea – grants, programmes, workshops, awards all of it.

Thank you, such an amazing story and business. Lastly what three tools make your business run better?

As a disruptive tech startup we’ve been researching the best use of tools and emerging tech – we’ll let you know when we’ve found the best. As for what we use to stay on top of things? We like Asana for project management and keeping track of thoughts, tasks, notes, ideas and meetings. We use Dropbox for documents and file management and Zoom for staying connected and for meetings with people all across the UK.    

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