Michelle Forster recently spoke to SBS journalist Sandra Fulloon, explaining the inspiration behind myWhānau and the positive ways it’s impacting on so many lives. The “Small Business Secrets” segment highlights Michelle’s entrepreneurial journey and the support she’s received from startup hub Fishburners.
Michelle told Sandra Fulloon myWhānau began when she was completely overwhelmed with working full time and managing three children. Frustrated with existing services that did little to ease her stress, she created a clever new way to ease the juggle of work and child raising that’s changing thousands of lives.
The Family Calendar Assistant app myWhānau is now helping working parents better manage their time by automating tasks and meetings in one place.
“Parents were particularly struggling since the pandemic arrived, wondering whether school was on, or cancelled, whether excursions were happening or not, or whether kids were being moved to remote learning – it was very over whelming for many parents,” Michelle says.
“Many people like me would turn up to sporting events at the wrong time or miss events – so I was living and breathing the challenges of household scheduling and I knew there had to be a better way.”
“Apps and services that I’d found just haven’t been designed from a ‘parent-first’ perspective.”
Michelle was so determined to help others, she traded her career in marketing to focus on myWhānau and help others get in control of their family life.
The automated Family Calendar Assistant works by collating events and appointments, so you no longer need to waste time having to read every email and check every portal. myWhānau provides a service that is similar to a virtual PA.
“We have a setup appointment with the family, so we know what the children are doing; the app brings in all the information and puts it into the calendar. So all you have to do is open the app and all the information is simplified in one place,” Michelle says.
Michelle admits starting a new business during a pandemic was a bold move, particularly for female business owners who already juggle so much. She feels lucky to have valuable support from Fishburners, the biggest startup hub in Sydney. Fishburners has helped more than 3,000 people start a business since it was founded in 2011. Its female founders grew to around 14 per cent in recent years. But in 2021, women-led startups have dropped to fewer than 10 per cent.
Fishburners CEO Nicole O’Brien says she’s seen a lot of collateral damage within the startup community during the pandemic.
“Women are always disproportionately impacted by any economic shock. So obviously, this one was no different,” Nicole says.
“But I think it’s been hard for people, startups and small businesses generally. Home schooling had a huge impact on female founders and we know women are still doing the majority of the care taking. So any female founder that had a business at Fishburners all of a sudden found themselves at home for home schooling,” Nicole says.
Michelle is thrilled that the feedback she’s received about myWhānau is overwhelmingly positive, with 94 percent of people saying they now feel more organised and 83 percent saying they have more peace of mind.
“So the servic is not only saving people time, it’s also making them feel better and improving their well-being, so that’s phenomenal!” Michelle says.
Take a look at SBS “Small Business Secrets” to hear about Michelle’s journey and you can also see what Fishburners can do to help your entrepreneurial journey!