Michelle Kennedy/Team Peanut
How your clients refer to you:
Insta @Peanut @michellekennedylon Twitter @peanut_app @shellkennedylon
How many years have you been in business in NYC?
Approaching 4 weeks this week!
How did you get your start and what was your initial inspiration?
Peanut was born out of 2 main issues:
The first was the emotional aspect of becoming a mother. My girlfriends weren't at the stage in their lives where they were having children yet, and even if some of my wider friendship group were, we all lived in different parts of the city (and leaving the house to go anywhere further than 10 minutes from home with a newborn felt like a military operation). I suppose what I felt most prominently, which isn't particularly comfortable for a 30-something woman to admit, is that even though I had lots of friends and was successful professionally, I felt quite isolated. This was further compounded by the fact that I was working in an industry (dating), where it was my day-to-day to produce products people could use to find a match, or a date, and I was struggling to find a woman who was like-minded to go for a coffee with.
The second was my frustration with the existing products on the market aimed at mothers. I didn't recognize the tone of voice the products used, or the UX/UI being used. They felt outdated, old fashioned, and in some cases patronizing. To me, I didn't feel like I'd suddenly aged, or become less modern, less cool, just because I'd become a mother, and yet, the products seemed to have that expectation. I found that confusing. I still had an expectation of great user experience, from products like Uber, or Instagram, but I wasn't getting that from the products for mothers that were out there.
What do you feel differentiates you from others in your field?
I suppose I am coming from a pretty unique vantage point-I don’t know anyone who has made the move from working in dating to working in the mama space! Taking that positioning, understand what it means to build a product which connects people, and then applying it to a personal pain point that I understand intimately means that I will always have a product perspective that’s unique. (I was formerly Deputy CEO of Badoo, and integral to the formation and launch of dating app, Bumble).
What do you feel gives you longevity in this big city with so many options?
I suppose because I’ve built apps before. I know that we have to stay on our toes, be aware of what other people are working on, and most importantly, listen to our users. Their feedback and insight is golden. This is the most important part of building any product-you can’t build it for yourself. We have already had a national impact on the US and the UK, with our focus being NY and London, I think that’s the key to success.
How do you positively impact your clientele?
Peanut’s mission statement is Meet as Mamas, Connect as Women. If we can positively impact the lives of millions of women, by connecting them with like minded women, by making motherhood a little less isolating, by giving them an interaction which helps them with a professional contact, well that will be success for us. I never tire of reading emails from mothers who have found the app to support them when they need it most (and that’s simply in the few short weeks we’ve been in existence).
What is your favorite part of your job?
Right now, the favorite part of my job is how well Peanut has been received, and how the most frequent comment we receive is “Why has no-one done this before?”. The best ideas are always the most simple and elegant in their execution. The other huge highlight for me is the founding team of Peanut. We have such an incredible team, they’re focused, ambitious, and in my opinion are some of the brightest minds in tech right now.
What is your favorite secret NYC spot?
Ahhh I’ve just become acquainted with the courtyard of Laduree in Soho...so pretty.
How do you benefit mamas?
By taking the sometimes isolation out of motherhood, and connecting mamas with a user interface and tone of voice they will be familiar with….
What is the most memorable feedback a client has given you?
Ahh we’ve had so many but my favorite was most recently “I think I'm addicted to Peanut”. That made us all laugh, it’s pretty addictive...
Pay it forward and name your top colleagues in the same field or related field:
Ahh so many incredible women doing incredible things. I recently met Rachel Blumenthal of Rockets of Awesome, they’re not in the same field as me, but anyone who can dress my 3 year old in cool clothes (and give him a box to occupy himself with colouring in), is a genius!
What is the best advice anyone’s ever given you? Or what is your mantra/ words to live by?
Be kind always. Kindness doesn’t make you weak, and it doesn't’ make you a pushover, it makes you human. You never ever know what someone else’s personal struggle is. You don’t have to be any less tough in your negotiation, you don’t have to concede a point which you disagree with, you don’t even have to like the person. But there is this notion that kindness is weakness. It’s not. Anyway, it’s far more disarming to be what people don’t expect you to be. I try always to be kind, but I am strong, and determined, and ambitious. And yes, those qualities can all fit together. I’m not ashamed of that.
As moms, the day can escape us, what is your best time-saving trick?
I had bangs cut in, so I didn’t have to wash and dry my hair so often-I can just wash and dry my bangs and pull the rest back! (Is that gross?!)