Here’s how two Raleigh entrepreneurs are creating a gig economy for women juggling work and life transitions.
Trying to schedule a call with Brooke Markevicius and Anne English—while also juggling distance learning and remote working—was actually a great introduction to their company, MOMentum. Markevicius, the founder, and English, chief strategy officer, created a market platform for women to connect to gig work like web design, podcast editing and personal assistance to earn money during life stages where they might not want a full-time job, like after having a child, while caring for a relative or to transition back to work as kids get older. The goal is to help women contribute to the household even if they’re not working a typical 9-to-5. We spoke about the origins of the company and what’s coming down the pike.
How did you come up with the idea for MOMentum?
Markevicius: I finished grad school at Boston University, I got a job working in operations at Postmates. I’m originally from Raleigh and helped launch their Southeast region. While I was working there, I got pregnant, and even though I loved the fast-paced environment of the startup, as I came closer to having a baby, I started questioning what the work-life balance would look like when I went back to work. Sure enough, after a quick maternity leave, my daughter was in daycare and my husband and I were like ships passing. It was such a bro culture at work, such a hustle for not much money, that I quit my job with no plan and became a stay-at-home mom. While I was home, I stumbled into freelancing. I was able to work in web development and project management as a freelancer, and I loved the flexibility. My clients were mostly small businesses and early-stage startups owned by women.
When I was pregnant with my second, one of my clients outside of Seattle (where I lived at the time) talked about opening a coworking space for moms, so I helped her get that up and running. It opened two weeks before I had my baby, but it was the perfect place for postpartum: I had support and community, I could jump on a call and a mom would grab my little one while I talked. MOMentum came out of that. Within the coworking space, we were helping each other sell goods and services and referring people to each other, and we created the microeconomy. And I thought, how can I scale this?
So how did you get started?
Markevicius: I wrapped up my work with the coworking space—though I’m still on the board—and pitched MOMentum at Seattle Startup Week. I pitched it to a group of predominantly men, but there were some dads who understood, and women who were supportive, so they went for it. I started the company in fall of 2018, and in early 2019 I went full-time with it. Because I have the development background, I was able to build the platform, and I started by building up the brand through a podcast. I basically used it as a lead generator. We launched officially in fall of 2019, and now we have 50,000 users and are about to have a big new product release this summer. I moved to Raleigh last summer, and it’s a great place to launch a company.
So Anne, how did you get involved?
English: I grew up in North Carolina, and right after university went to the Northeast, working at a financial software start-up and then in management consulting before and after business school at Dartmouth. I’ve been in Hong Kong for the last nine years, working as a strategy consultant for mostly women-owned businesses. I moved back last summer and was on a panel for empowering women together, and I talked to Brooke then, and then we met up again as a female founders happy hour, and from there I knew I wanted to get more involved. I officially came on board in March. I”m the chief strategy officer, focused on national and international partnerships, grassroots marketing and special projects.
So what does MOMentum do?
English: Ultimately, we’re a platform of goods and services powered by moms, it’s a gig economy for moms. We’re here for the whole woman’s journey, but in particular for the in-between phases, like maybe they’re not sure if they want to take time off, or if they’re dealing with postpartum or caring for a family member. We allow for any services that are project-based, including web design, branding, podcast editing, social media and virtual assistance.
Markevicius: We’re predominantly targeting small businesses and early stage startups as our buyers, that’s where I had the most connections, but we already have interest from other places. Most of our moms hear about us through word of mouth, because everyone knows someone in that in-between stage, and MOMentum works for that whole journey of motherhood—we’ve even had some women who are not moms interested in joining, and of course they can, too.
English: We’re planning a city-to-city launch this summer, and we have a virtual summit on The Future of Work for Moms in a few weeks, where guests can tune in to hear amazing female leaders speak.
Tell me more about the summit.
Markevicius: We were originally planning to have an in-person summit later this year, but with everything happening with COVID-19, so many events were canceled. And people who might normally not be able to do it were available. Some of our speakers include Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, designer Rebecca Minkoff and Raleigh’s own Melisse Shaban of Virtue Labs.
The other benefit of a virtual summit is that many of the women we wanted to target are still the primary caretakers even if they have a freelance side gig, so this works for someone who might not have been able to travel to a location, or needs to watch the talks at their own pace. Our platform is integrated with Zoom, so there are opportunities for breakout sessions and conversations, and we’re doing stuff like a virtual coffee hour and mom’s night out.
English: We’ll also be grouping people into mini networking groups, we found that many people are really missing out on networking right now. It’s very different and fun, and I feel like it captures the flexibility that we’re offering through MOMentum, as well. The Triangle has so much great talent, so many female leaders, and we’re happy to have them involved in the Summit.