Like most first time entrepreneurs, I started working on a idea I am deeply passionate about, found a team that shared the same vision and got working on the MVP. We are two women co-founders and when it came time to start meeting people and sharing our ideas to get feedback, mentorships or investments three questions were asked almost every time we met someone for the first time. (without the male co-founder)
- What does your husband think about the idea?
So why is this important the first time you meet me? I am coming to you as a potential investor, mentor, guide etc so shudnt it matter to what you or my customers or others in the ecosystem think about my idea? I do not deny that without my husbands encouragement I couldn’t have come this far, especially because we are raising a child and managing finances for a secure future are a big part of the decision. But why does my husbands justification in the idea be the basis of anyones belief in it! The first time this question got asked I was at a loss of words because to be very honest I didn’t know the answer myself ! I am working on an education startup and my husband is a finance guy, he probably does not have a great idea on the education ecosystem but he does believe that I am educated and skilled enough to take on a challenge. Then when this question popped time and again, I just choose to roll my eyes and answer ” he thinks its a great idea” and quickly changed the topic.
2. What does your husband do?
90% of the meetings I have, especially, with men this question is asked. Not that I have a problem answering it but I really wonder if men get asked this question the first time they are meeting someone professionally? This question usually pops in the first 5 mins of any meeting when I really think the first five minutes should be about me, my team and my company. And most of the times the answer to this question gets a person pose other unrelated questions like – Oh he works for a bank, does he know John Smith? Does he work in this XYZ building? How is it to manage on one salary? And now annoyingly I have to steer the conversation back to business.
3. Working from home?…long pause…and how old is your kid?
Heres when I can see the mental math going on in the guys head – she is working from home and raising a kid so that means she is not serious about her business or not working “full time”. Why is it ok for a full time employee of great companies like IBM, Microsoft work from home and not me? Most startups operate from home till they raise capital and thats the stage I am at, so what if I happen to be a mother and take 2-3 breaks for max 5-15 mins during the day picking up my son from school or serving him food. I work 10-12 hours everyday and here’s the math – 4 hours (while my son is in school) + 3 hours (while my son is home, being looked after by my househelp) + 30mins -1 hour of calls (while my son plays in the park) + 1 hour (while my son watches TV) + 2-3 hours (at night after my son goes to sleep). Yes I take those short breaks, but so do full time employees for coffee or office gossips! My lunch is in front of the laptop, I have least TV time or time for a hobby because I rather spend my free time with my son. And yes most weekends are working too because thats when I can step out for a longer time and meet these amazing people who ask me the above questions.
For most women and more importantly mothers it is very very tough to build something without being judged. My husband and how I raise my son should not matter in my choice of work and how well I do my job. My family is my life but my business is my identity and its true that I strive to be best that both.