No matter who you are, life changes — whether it be a new city or job, marriage, a child — can be seriously overwhelming. When Michelle Kennedy had her son Finn, she found her world transformed. Kennedy shared her insights about why you need failure to get clarity and how channeling your passion helps you build up an inner resolve to go to bat for your business when it truly counts.
Kennedy saw the online dating industry grow and change over the past few years as general counsel and then deputy CEO of Badoo and then as an advisor and member of Bumble’s board. She understood how to connect people, but throughout her pregnancy and as a new mom, she felt isolated.
Kennedy wanted to build a network of other moms, a support system who she could call for help, advice or just an afternoon out. It occurred to her that she had all the tools she needed at her disposal to do just that, not only for her, but for other women in her position.
“On those long days it felt obvious — why don’t I just use the algorithms that we use in dating to help me find that network?” Kennedy told Entrepreneur. That initial frustration turned into a promising idea and platform: Peanut.
Since it launched in September 2016, Kennedy and her team have grown the business to 170,000 users and counting, who are generating more than 100,000 swipes per day. More than 15 million profiles have been viewed and 700,000 messages have been sent.
Interview edited for brevity and clarity.
What advice do you have for someone who is going to take the leap and start their own business?
You have to have the thickest skin. Like a rhino. And even if you think these things aren’t going to knock you and hurt, they do. So you have to kind of be resilient enough to be prepared for that. That’s what I wish I would have known. I think building a business is all consuming. You are absolutely living and breathing it. You don’t sleep because you’re thinking about it. It consumes you. And that means that if someone does something that is unsupportive, that seems magnified because it’s so important. We sometimes forget that there is an emotional cost, and it’s OK to talk about that. It doesn’t make you less of an entrepreneur. It doesn’t make you softer or less effective or any of those things. It means that it is just another factor that I think perhaps we don’t talk about.