Dreaming of Baby Entrepreneurs Segment
A conversation with Goergene Huang, CEO and Co-Founder of Fairygodboss
At two months pregnant, a management shake-up at work left Georgene Huang jobless. As she traveled from one interview to another, her concerns about maternity leave and work-life balance started to mount. Having exhausted her personal network in search for answers, she turned to the internet and found nothing. Fairygodboss was born out of her need to ask questions on unfairly stigmatized subjects and find the information that no one was giving.
CJ DeGuara: Welcome to Dreaming of Baby, we’re with you on your journey to parenthood! We have with us a special guest today, a Mompreneur whose business is focused on helping moms navigate the corporate world; I will, however, hand over to her to tell you a little about herself. Georgene Huang, would you be so kind as to tell our readers a little about yourself and what you do?
Georgene Huang: Hello everyone! I’m the CEO and co-founder of Fairygodboss.com, a career community where women share the inside scoop on jobs and employers in the form of free and anonymous job reviews. Our site is for women, by women, because our social mission is to improve the workplace for women. I started Fairygodboss a couple of years ago when I was pregnant and suddenly found myself fired in a management shakeup. I was only two months along so wasn’t showing yet and nobody knew. I found myself going on interviews, wanting to ask about maternity leave policies, whether women progressed at these companies to the highest levels of senior management, and whether the company’s culture was flexible vs. full of facetime. Because you run out of people to ask in your personal network, I turned to the internet and found it really hard to find answers to my questions within existing job review sites.
CJ DeGuara: I was going to ask what made you decide to open your own business instead of finding another job; if I’m understanding correctly you saw a gap in the market and jumped on it?
Georgene Huang: That’s right. I was trying to solve my own problem of finding hard-to-ask job information. There’s still a lot of stigma and bias around these topics, that’s why I think women and mothers need to share this information with each other.
CJ DeGuara: So tell me a bit more about your journey. Once you decided you were going to do this, what was your plan for paying the bills with it?
Georgene Huang: Well, I was interviewing at the same time that this idea came to me, so I treated it as a side project at first. Meaning, I wasn’t working on it full time because with a start-up idea, I felt that I had to test it until I felt confident enough to try it fulltime.
CJ DeGuara: So did you get another job or did the business take center stage as you progressed through the interview stage?
Georgene Huang: Well, remember I was two months pregnant…so by that time I was about to have the baby. I was about to go on maternity leave so I knew I had seven months to make a decision about whether to pursue this full time. I took that seven months living off my savings and spending on small-scale experiments to test the idea for Fairygodboss.
CJ DeGuara: That makes sense, did it grow fast enough? Have you taken a job since the seed for Fairygodboss was planted in your mind?
Georgene Huang: No, fortunately, we got a lot of validating feedback from women in the workplace about the concept. Added to this, the pilot site we developed grew quite quickly so I never went back to work after having my baby. I just delved in full time into Fairygodboss and its been growing rapidly ever since!
CJ DeGuara: So your business is what could be termed an online business, is that correct? Do you have any client visits in your day-to-day work?
Georgene Huang: We are a marketplace. On one side of the marketplace are women who use us as a purely online, digital website, on the other side of the marketplace, we monetize the fact that women are coming to our site to do job/career research by selling recruiting and branding services to employers (i.e. companies). On the employer side of the marketplace, we do visit clients in our day-to-day work. Many of our interactions are over the phone, email and video conference, but we absolutely come in person to clients and prospects whenever we can.
CJ DeGuara: That is excellent; so Fairygodboss is more than just a website it also works as a recruiter (or as a recruitment platform)?
Georgene Huang: Yes! Women come to us both to get career and job information as well as apply for jobs.
CJ DeGuara: Quite the business you started there! I want to talk a little about time. Grant Cardone was interview by Daymond John of NBC’s hit show Shark Tank and had this to say about time. What are your thoughts and how do you manage your time especially as a parentpreneur?
Georgene Huang: Ruthlessly. I manage my time ruthlessly.
CJ DeGuara: Any tips for parents-to-be?
Georgene Huang: It’s absolutely my most precious thing. I have 2 children, a third on the way, and my company is also my baby. For parents-to-be, I would say that if you are starting a business, outsource as much as you can possibly outsource. Whether that’s in the form of paid help or help from family/friends, you need to make time for your business if you want to succeed. An alternative is to build a business that is less time-intensive or that you feel you can just treat as a “side hustle”. Not all businesses need the same time commitment and have the same demands in terms of growth trajectory or time. So you need to be honest with yourself about how much you have and need.
Georgene HUang: “Not all businesses need the same time commitment and have the same demands in terms of growth trajectory or time. So you need to be honest with yourself about how much you have and need.”
CJ DeGuara: That is an important note, there is, of course, a difference between a side hustle and dreaming big! Catherine Zeta-Jones, another amazing person featured in Rise and Grind, had this to say about Dreaming Big:
CJ DeGuara: Whichever path a person takes they will choose what’s most important to them but in your case, would you say you dream big?
Georgene Huang: Yes, I dream big. If every woman in the workforce uses Fairygodboss, we will be a very big business! Plus, we will be able to improve the workplace for women because that is a lot of eyeballs looking at you in terms of whether you’re a good place for women to work. So we have huge financial and social ambition!
CJ DeGuara: You have some very big names on your site. For parents thinking of joining the workforce, what should they be asking future employers to ensure they get the right job for them?
Georgene Huang: I think parents joining the workforce need to understand clearly what they will be measured by on their job by future employers – and whether they think they can deliver. It can be hard to ask head-on and directly about things like work-life balance and hours and flexibility. But if that is important to you and you feel like it’s a deal-breaker, there is no downside to asking. On the other hand, if you don’t feel like asking directly about these issues for fear of losing out on getting the job, you can use our site, or you can do sleuthing in various ways (e.g. ask for an interview at 5 pm and see how many people are leaving the office or still around).
CJ DeGuara: That is smart, I think you are really on to something with your business. I do have to ask though, why ignore men; in this day and age a lot of dad’s take on a more active role in parenting, do you think you may branch out and give us men a Fairygodboss to watch out for us too?
Georgene Huang: We focus on women because, in society and culture in general, we believe women’s voices don’t get enough focus. I believe that all the other generic review sites out there address what it’s like to be both male and female in the workplace. And remember, they didn’t talk about the subjects and have the answers that I – as a woman – was looking for and which prompted me to start Fairygodboss in the first place. Had women’s voices been at the forefront there, I believe I wouldn’t have had to start Fairygodboss. Unfortunately, the same dynamic can happen in mixed gender groups. When a space is for everyone, certain voices just get drowned out. And of course, male allies are important for making progress in gender equality. We crowdsource things like paternity leave, etc. Nobody stops a man from using the information on our site, it’s just that they don’t get to leave job reviews.
CJ DeGuara: I can appreciate that; I still think what you are doing is amazing. For parents thinking of going into entrepreneurship; let’s say your best friend was thinking of doing so with a baby on the way, with hindsight, what advice would you offer? What is the hardest part of being a parentpreneur and what is the most rewarding?
Georgene Huang: The best part is that you know when you’re away from your baby that you’re working on something meaningful to you. The hardest part, of course, is trying to juggle everything and spending time away from your new baby when you’re filled with emotions and hormones and just new at parenting. If your work as an entrepreneur is meaningful to you (and I assume it would be since you chose to start something rather than just take a job for the pay), it’s easier to justify to yourself being away from your newborn child and family. So I think that’s the best part: that you have essentially decided for yourself that your work is “worth” being away from your family for. Whereas if you’re not an entrepreneur, you may not feel there is that meaning to your work.
CJ DeGuara: Thank you, Georgene, you have been an amazing guest today.