"The environment doesn't necessarily make it easier for mothers"

Margarete Koch is a mother of two and founder of mapadoo, a learning platform with online courses for expectant parents. In the interview, she talks about what it's like to take the step into start-up founding as a mother, what advantages it offers and where there is still a lack of support.

How did you come up with the idea of founding your start-up?

I'm incredibly fond of continuing my education. In fact, I always just have an online course on a topic where I'm learning something new. I immensely appreciate the freedom here to learn when, how long, and where I want. I am also very IT-savvy and love digital innovations. When I was pregnant with my first child and had no idea what to expect, I wanted to find out more about having a baby. Unfortunately, well-founded digital offers are scarce here. Non-fiction books and on-site courses are in the foreground. On-site courses are quickly booked up and when the baby arrives you run into the challenge of having to organise childcare. An emergency course for babies, which was very close to my heart, was fully booked when I wanted to register in the 4th month of pregnancy. The next available spot was after my delivery date. Babies not allowed. So my husband went by himself.

How did it go from there?

At that time, the idea that there was a lot of digital catching up to do in this area had already occurred. It wasn't until my second pregnancy, when I was faced with the problem again, that the decision was made to take it into my own hands. During my pregnancy, I continued to work on the idea and was then able to convince my founding partners to do the same. Mapadoo launched in 2020, in the middle of the Corona crisis. What was it like founding during the crisis?

Surely there would be better circumstances. Formally, everything was no problem. What we're missing as a team is that shared startup time: . Sitting together, brainstorming on flips, team building, laughing together and just thinking of crazy ideas. We've been working remotely since we started our company. That works too, but developing a "we" feeling is much easier in a shared office. Economically speaking, we are not suffering from the crisis, rather the opposite: parents are certainly booking an online course with us that they would otherwise have rather done on site. The increasing general digitalisation and its acceptance is also beneficial for us. If anything, our business model is a winner from the crisis.

Photo: mapadoo

You founded your start-up mapadoo during your second pregnancy. What is it like to start up as a mother?

For me, this combination is perfect. I have maximum flexibility and can arrange our family life and independence as we need it.

The challenge of being a mom is not the actual startup itself. Moms are used to improvising and being flexible. It's more the environment and what's on offer that's hard to take in as a mum. Founder meetings at 8pm, nice, but not in it as a mum. Not with such small children anyway. I'm also taking a continuing education course in sales psychology right now. A lot of the calls are at 5:30. Sure, convenient for anyone who might want to listen in after their work day. As a mom, 6pm is usually when the evening program with the kids starts. The environment doesn't necessarily make it easier for moms.

What advantages do founding mothers have?

Statistically, mothers are the ones who go on parental leave. This time is very special. During parenting time you take a break from your previous job, you are confronted with thinking about your priorities in life, your child completely mirrors your emotions and you are forced to think: What values do I want to pass on to my child? What kind of world do I want for my child? How do I want to be co-responsible for the use of resources in the world?

What else would you wish for the future of Baden-Württemberg as a business location?

I was a student and lecturer at the University of Stuttgart myself and unfortunately I didn't even come into contact with the topic of start-ups. And I studied business administration. I think that is really a pity. I would wish for more actions here, so that the students are sensitized for the topic of founding.

Thank you very much for the interview.

Personal details:

Margarete Koch completed her doctorate in economics and business informatics at the University of Stuttgart. During this time, she worked as an academic assistant at the Chair of Business Informatics and dealt with the topics of Business Intelligence, Big Data and Industry 4.0. After working as a project manager in the private sector for five years, she decided to start her own company.

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