Mummyfique is building a mothership for mums of the world

18 Jun 2018

The magnificent Mummyfique team. Image: Mummyfique

Our Start-up of the Week is Singapore-based Mummyfique, which is building the go-to resource and marketplace for mothers globally.

“Mummyfique is a multichannel community platform for mothers, by mothers, that includes an e-magazine, a creative consultancy arm, a mobile app and, in the pipeline, an e-market place,” explained Mummyfique co-founder and chief executive ‘mummy’ Dolores Au.

“We are plankton in the sea of digital and tech companies; little anchovies in the lake of mobile app start-ups. My vision is to become the go-to resource for all things new mummies need, globally.

‘50pc of mothers in developed countries are employed and this percentage will continue to grow’

“This app will become their much-needed companion when travelling with their little ones. It will tell them exactly which baby-friendly restaurant to go to, the nearest paediatrician, confinement services.

“Mummies who need party supplies will find the best ones there, just like how they will also find the top pre-schools and educational/sports programmes. Search by geography, by closest distance and by categories. This is but the mere tip of the iceberg of what I hope to achieve with this app. Next up: a global marketplace.”

The market

Au said that the start-up is targeting the maternal market, specifically new mothers from pregnancy to pre-schools (six years).

“Research has shown that these are the years that new mothers need the most support from their peers and other mothers who are going through similar experiences. In most major cities, these new moms are also juggling work and family commitments on top of caring for their newborns.

“With Mummyfique, we hope to improve and be part of the lives of these busy mothers. 50pc of mothers in developed countries are employed and this percentage will continue to grow.”

The founders

Chief executive mummy Dolores Au

Chief executive mummy Dolores Au. Image: Mummyfique

Chief executive mummy Dolores Au has been a PR and marketing practitioner for more than 18 years, having launched and successfully exited two agency businesses in the past.

“In the past seven years, I have been focusing on the family’s food and beverage business until my personal experiences as a mother inspired me to start Mummyfique in 2015 with my partners.”

Chief marketing mummy Gidania Wong

Chief marketing mummy Gidania Wong. Image: Mummyfique

Chief marketing mummy Gidania Wong began her career in journalism. “But the lure of marketing soon got to me and I ventured into consumer public relations, working on fashion, lifestyle, beauty and F&B accounts.

“I then set up my boutique public relations agency and am still managing it.

“In 2015, shortly after the birth of my son, my personal struggles with motherhood, work-life balance, and hunting for relevant intelligent information regarding mums and ‘bubs’ led me to the nurturing arms of my partners and we co-founded Mummyfique.”

Chief business mummy Jessica Loo

Head of business and operations, Jessica Loo. Image: Mummyfique

Head of business and operations, Jessica Loo has a decade of  experience in marketing, communications, new media management and branding.

“My career spans the hospitality and lifestyle industries. As an early adopter of digital and social marketing, I have led in-house teams for some of the most notable Singapore-grown brands to manage and create to-market strategies and campaigns. With the creation of Mummyfique, it is exciting to see how such a digital platform can impact and improve the lives of other mothers.”

The technology

The Mummyfique World app is available on iOS and Android and, as the name implies, brings the motherhood world to mothers who are seeking a solution in their time-starved, multitasking world of nappies, school runs, work and sleepless nights. It serves as a one-stop parenting directory to target all their needs.

‘The ultimate goal for Mummyfique is to become the world’s largest support community of mothers, by mothers’

The app is a directory of thousands of curated products and services that have been given the seal of approval by the Mummyfique team. At the moment, it has 10 sections that include: confinement services, party needs, restaurants and cafés that are baby- and kid-friendly, schools and childcare centres, entertainment and play centres, medical services and more.

“The app allows users to contact the vendors direct through the in-app mailing system,” Au explained. “It has a transparent rating and feedback system that gives mums the opportunity to share their experiences of the service and product with other mums.

“What’s more, mums are able to search for specific products and services in the search-by-nearby function, which will show them the nearest vendor within a five-kilometre radius.

“Right now, we are planning to take the app global. So, when mothers travel to another country with the brood in tow, this handy solution provider will also be able to help them navigate their way around the city by showing them where all the family- and kids-friendly options are.”

Mummyfique’s two-and-a-half-year-old magazine is chock-full of useful, well-researched articles that cover the gamut from medical trends to lifestyle content.

“We highlight real problems and offer up solutions and answers by certified experts and doctors.

“And what really gets the mothers excited is the events page – where to bring the kids out over the weekend. Our editorial team scour the land to look for unique places and events that parents can take their kids to, other than the malls.

“We’ve also built up a strong and reactive online community of readers who frequent our magazine and social media platforms, sharing their expertise, experiences and just engaging us frequently.

“The ultimate goal for Mummyfique is to become the world’s largest support community of mothers, by mothers. To do that, we plan to scale fast and expand into new territories to ensure our network keeps growing.”

Baby steps

Au said Mummyfique started off conservatively, bootstrapping and getting down-and-dirty by learning and building everything there is know, with help from friends and Google.

“The first year was a lot of experimentation with business model and content, as we kept on refining our methods. It was tough as we did not have external financiers and kept it all within our own means, not taking pay and having to plough into my personal coffers.

“We knew what our vision was and we kept at it. The Mummyfique World app was a 12-month labour of love and sweat. We invested heavily in the infrastructure and put our faith in one of Singapore’s leaders in enterprise solutions, not wanting to have a product that will give us issues down the road.

“We launched the app in January 2018 with plans for a hard-hitting marketing and publicity campaign. However, we have had to put some of our plans on hold as we have just started seed-round fundraising.”

The birth of a start-up

Au said that like all start-ups, the biggest challenge was funding.

“However, we have been able to be nimble and expand a key vertical to encompass consultancy and events as a revenue stream to help tide the company along as we grow the internal team so far.

“But we are well aware that to acquire the numbers we are targeting [and] grow the team regionally with key staff in place, we will need to fundraise.

“From the perspective of a working mum, the biggest challenge, I would say, is sacrificing time spent with the family to get work done.

“As a small start-up, we work with an all-hands-on-deck mentality, and many weekends and late nights are burnt in the process. While it has been tiring, to say the least, we are motivated by the thought of doing good for the global mummy community; that while we fight to grow this into a viable, profitable business we can all be proud of, the real legacy is in the happy, balanced community of mummy that will be bringing up happy, balanced children for the next generation.”

The Singapore start-up scene

As fans of start-ups all around the world, we recently highlighted some of the Singapore start-ups to watch.

Au said that the start-up scene in Singapore is really opening up.

“In Singapore, we have a supportive government and individuals in private sector who have been championing and stoking the fire of entrepreneurship through start-up assistance plans.

“This has seen the burgeoning of brave spirits who have embarked on this oft-precarious but exciting adventure. However, in as many start-ups that will launch, almost as many will fail. I am not ignorant to the fact and it scares me that I might become one of the statistics. But it is precisely this fear of failure that’s the biggest impediment to an open, honest start-up narrative in this country.

“Generally, we are slow to accept failure in this country; that today’s failure might be tomorrow’s biggest unicorn is a concept that many still cannot reconcile. So, many decisions that a start-up entrepreneur makes are largely still done out of not wanting to be seen as being worse off than the competition.

“In the Asian context, it’s called ‘saving face’. Hence, we get very charismatic start-up entrepreneurs who embark on a rosy PR campaign, winning accolades with no real conversation on the realities of their business closing shop a year or two after, then disappearing from the scene. No one talks about it. No one analyses why. But, week after week, I get invited to talks and seminars and conferences that celebrate the successes.

“To me, knowing the reasons for failure in this start-up world is just as crucial, if not more important than the reasons for successes. Hearing from the very people who have tried, failed and tried again is instrumental to a more vibrant start-up ecosystem.”

Au echoes many start-up founders in her advice to peers who are burning with ambition for their ideas: just do it.

“My advice for all tech self-starters, based anywhere in the world, is to take the first step out. Adopt a ‘just do it’ mentality. Because, if you don’t start working on your dream, someone else is going to hire you to build their dream instead.”

Good advice.

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years