For three years I've been building The Founding Moms. It's a collective of offline meetups and online resources for mom entrepreneurs in more than 30 cities around the world.
When we launched our first Founding Moms' Exchange (or Meetup) in one city, no one asked questions. When we grew to three cities, people started to ask me, "How do you monetize your company?" Initially, I thought: Why Is it their business how I make my money? But spend enough time around entrepreneurs and you come to learn that it's our currency: Give me a few tricks of your trade and I'll give you a couple of mine.
As we grew to 10 and then 20 cities, more and more people asked me how we monetize. I was always honest. We had no plan to monetize. I never wanted to charge our members. It didn't feel right, and if I were a member, I would never pay to attend. (I could spend many lengthy paragraphs on the merits of charging; the number of times I've been lectured about the perception of value extends into the thousands at this point.) Turns out our members find a lot of value in the education and information that we offer. But with a customer base used to receiving value for free (read: in exchange for intangibles like brand-building and exposure,) there are bigger questions that have come up. When we want to start charging, will they pay? At what price point? Do they trust me enough only three years along to pay for new products that we offer? After a lot of questions and even more answers, it was clear that if we could make launching a business a lot easier for entrepreneurs -- as simple as that sounds -- we could potentially have a viable product.
Enter The Founding Kit. We've gathered our favorite providers in the whole wide world to help entrepreneurs get up and running in no time. From graphic design to building a website to CPA and attorney time to having an accountability buddy, we've bundled spectacular services at exceedingly affordable prices. My co-founder Tamara Nolte and I put our heads together to come up with a shortlist of the services that members need most. That they need fast. And that they don't know how to source. Since Tamara and I have built about four companies in our careers, we knew we'd understand what many entrepreneurs seek when they want to launch their company. After assembling our stellar team and figuring out how to make all the working parts work together, we're hopeful that small business owners will see the value in what we offer and know firsthand the headaches we'll be saving folks. Oh, and making money while we're at it.
At least I now have an answer to those who ask me about monetizing my company.
Jill Salzman is currently growing her third entrepreneurial venture, The Founding Moms, the world’s first and only kid-friendly collective of monthly meetups for mom entrepreneurs. (She also just launched her fourth, The Founding Kit which helps startups get started.) A graduate of Brown University and law school, she started a music management firm and then launched a baby jewelry company before creating her current venture. Jill has been featured in national media outlets including People Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, Daily Candy Kids, NBC5 and WGN TV. She is the author of Found It: A Field Guide for Mom Entrepreneurs, a columnist for NBC Chicago, and she gave her own TED talk on 11/11/11. In her spare time, Jill enjoys kloofing, baking, and erasing her daughters’ crayon artwork from the kitchen walls.