Stephanie Feltus is an Omaha based entrepreneur helping working moms find work/life balance success while achieving startup success of her own!
Tell us about the biggest mistake you made with your business. What did you learn from it?
More than a specific incident, the biggest mistake I made was not looking outside of myself to others to assist in helping solve a problem. Not admitting that I needed help. Many times there are people who are knowledgeable and experienced in helping you achieve your goal. Leaning on experts and being transparent with your issues gets you where you need to be faster.
In the beginning, I spent hours researching a specific topic. For example: pricing. I researched what my competitors were doing, what was the national average, and how much profit would we make in the long run. I ended up learning the most from asking our current customers if they thought they were getting a good value. Also asking the potential target market what they would pay for our services.
Besides learning from mistakes, we can learn from successful moments as well. Have you ever learned something from a great success?
My Robyn has been fortunate to have celebrated many successes. For every success, there is a lot of hard work and dedication that has been behind it. The lesson I learned is to always celebrate hitting milestones, no matter how small you believe it is. However, I wouldn’t recommend celebrating a success too long. The next milestone is usually bigger, so you better be having fun along the way.
“The lesson I learned is to always celebrate hitting milestones, no matter how small you believe it is.”
One example, was when we hit our month recurring revenue goal. We were so proud to hit the goal, we strutted into a venture capital company. They were very proud of us as well, however, they asked us to double the number but in half of the time. With dedication and passion, we achieved it.
What is one thing you’ve learned that you wish you knew when you got started?
There are very few companies which have achieved overnight success. All successful companies have an amazing amount of passion and hard work behind the “idea”. After hearing many successful founders speak, I realize each one of these companies went through a time they wanted to give up due to what seemed like an insurmountable hurdle. You have to have a solid support system to be able to pick you up when you are in pieces.
I remember receiving a call on a Friday night from a good customer who was also a great referral source. She was furious. The Robyn had made a mistake with the water line, flooded the family’s home, and the family was scheduled to have their child’s birthday party at the home the next day. I thought we were done for. Fortunately, we were able to correct the issue and the customer is still with us (and referring others) to date.
In your opinion, what are 3 key elements for starting and running a successful business?
Persistence, Passion, and Follow through.
What do you wish you would have done differently? And what did you nail from the start?
As I mentioned earlier, advice is good, but there are TONS of people offering advice. I listened and took everyone’s advice in the beginning, but being selective about the advice given is imperative.
I have always lived by the motto, “under promise and over deliver.” It appears as if I go above and beyond, but I just don’t promise things I know I can’t deliver. Or deliver ahead of schedule.
Let’s talk about advice. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? The worst? What advice would you give to a young woman thinking about starting her own business?
I’m starting with the worst. I like to end on a positive note. The worst advice I ever received was to convert all of my customers to a new business model with the “appearance” of having greater traction to appeal to investors. You should never do something to give the “appearance of.”
The best advice would be to be selective about who you take funding from. You have to remember you will be working with investors for the life of your business. They should be on board with your vision and ready to let you lead.
We know all about St. Louis, and not much about Omaha! Tell us about the startup scene there. What resources are there for women entrepreneurs? Is there easy access to capital? How have you been involved in the startup community and how has the startup community helped you with My Robyn?
Honestly, I feel as if the startup scene in Omaha is very fragmented. It is definitely improving, but could use some collaboration work. The Omaha Startup Collaborative sees the need in partnerships and is strengthening the community.
In Omaha, there are very few, I actually can’t think of any, resources strictly dedicated to helping female entrepreneurs. I fell into the startup community by attending 1 Million Cups in Omaha which was recommended to me by a mom in a Working Mother’s Group that I host.
Hiring help or an assistant is generally a tech free process. Many people probably just use word of mouth referrals. How are you using technology to change the way women, especially mothers, find (and be matched with!) reliable help?
85% of our new business is from word of mouth referrals. And working mothers are BUSY! They are rarely found “hanging out”. However, we do know they like to decompress on social media sites before going to bed. We also know they are interested in learning more about work life balance. Company sponsored emails or articles have been extremely valuable for My Robyn to educate working women on how to breathe by having help at home.
What are you plans for growing My Robyn? Are other markets in your future? We read in an article about My Robyn that in the beginning your team was personally matching assistants with families. How do you make sure you have a scaleable business model?
We are currently developing an app to help busy parents find and schedule their Robyn quicker and easier. We are launching the website in the north suburbs of Atlanta shortly, so we have a lot to be excited about. And a lot of work ahead of us.
We have now automated quite a bit of our matching process, but understand follow up customer service to continually review our automation is vital. For both the families seeking help and those Robyns looking for work.
Follow Stephanie and My Robyn on Twitter and Facebook @MyRobynAtHome and check out their website www.myrobyn.com.
Founder and CEO, Stephanie Feltus, wanted to achieve a better work life balance after having her first child. Each provider had specific skills (child care, housekeeper, launderer), but none of them overlapped. Stephanie developed a successful service based business in 2012, Mommy Assistant. After wanting to help more families at an affordable price, Stephanie developed My Robyn to launch at a national level.
My Robyn’s mission is to help families find affordable, trusted, reliable help around the house. Phone interviews as well as detailed background checks are conducted on every Robyn. Robyns are designed to come in-home weekly, to help lessen the stress of ongoing to-do lists and the unique needs of each family. Robyn helps finds the best person who not only can do the job, but fits well each family.