How one mother felt so lonely, she designed a Tinder-like friendship app for mums.

Meet the brains behind the highly successful parent networking app, Peanut. After the birth of her son, Michelle Kennedy felt cripplingly lonely and isolated. The entrepreneur – previously working at social networking site Badoo and dating app Bumble – turned the situation into an opportunity. Alongside Greg Orlowski, (co-founder of food delivery startup Deliveroo), Michelle designed the new Peanut app helping mothers that connects nearby mothers with similar interests and same-age children. Here Michelle looks back at her business journey, her biggest mistake and turning her husband into an app widow.

I came up with the idea when… I had no mama friends! I had been working in the dating industry for years, and it felt like a natural progression to take the dating algorithms and apply them to helping women connect with like-minded women!

The biggest challenge is… localising Peanut quickly enough to meet the demands of mamas globally. We receive requests all the time, and I want to be able to satisfy the need. We’re getting there.

There is no average day at Peanut... Sometimes we’re working on product, sometimes we’re thinking about a campaign, other times we’re speaking to mamas. It’s part of my passion that we never know what we’re going to be doing. Last week, I had Good Morning America filming at my house. The next day, I was at an intimate Mama meet-up talking about the importance of building a network.

The team consists of… There are five of us. We’re small, and perfectly formed! Greg (my co-founder) and I are joined by three others: Head of Mobile, Design, and Brand. Each brings something different to the table, and those vantage points give us our unique DNA.

My favourite quote… WHO RUN THIS MOTHER - Girls (thanks Beyonce)

I am where I am today because of… my incredibly tenacious mother who told me I could do anything; Taking a chance and leaving the law to start working in an industry which wasn’t very cool at the time (dating), and later seeing it had potential to be applied to another completely different market; My refusal to let people tell me women didn’t need an app to connect on; Developing elephant hide for skin; I have had knocks from the most unexpected of people and I’ve learnt to get over it quickly and move on; It hurts a little less after the first time.

I am who I am because of.... My son Finlay! My little Peanut who inspired Peanut. He makes me a better person everyday.

The best advice I've been given... 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. Kindness is not the same as weakness. Anyway, it’s far more disarming to be what people don’t expect you to be.

In five years I’d like to be… continuing to transform the lives of women in some way. It’s something I do, and always will, care passionately about. My ambition is for Peanut to become synonymous with modern motherhood.

The thing no one ever tells you about running your own business online… Um, I have an app! Less about me - I think it’s one for my husband. He’s become an app widow as I spend so much time using Peanut!

The website I most frequently use… Amazon - Receiving a product the same day that I ordered it is priceless – it saved me when I’d forgotten to get Fin a fancy dress outfit for school next day.

Our biggest mistake and what it taught us… was to not have Android ready to release at the same time as iOS. The demand for Android has been insane, and I feel so badly for the women who want to use Peanut but haven’t been able to yet. It’s coming at the end of the month mamas! It taught us that women wanted to use Peanut, and that we needed to condense development time as far as possible.

What apps do you use to be more productive…Calm, I am obsessed with it. Anything that can help me sleep well is worth gold-and makes me so much more productive.

The most rewarding experience we’ve had to date… being featured by Apple at WWDC 2017 and also press attention both sides of the water. But for me, the most rewarding experience is receiving the emails every day from users who have had their lives changed by Peanut. They’ve met another mama, or started a group, or even started a business. All of these things wouldn’t have happened but for Peanut, and that, well, that’s why we do it!

August 2017