Funding Lab: Meet Michele Veldsman, Founder of playroom.
Meet Michele, founder of playroom. playroom connects parents of young families and builds a safe and secure network around your children.
Michele participated in this year's Funding Lab, our new fast-paced, two-part programme for founders looking to raise investment from a VC. The course is designed to help early-stage founders tune their pitch and prepare for a raise with straight-talking, actionable learnings direct from our VC investors and industry specialists from our Studio team.
We caught up with Michele to find out how the idea for playroom came about, what she’s working on now and where she’s planning on taking the business in the future.
Tell us a little bit about your business.
I founded playroom with the aim of connecting, supporting and protecting families online. I want to make it easy for families to make meaningful connections with each other, use tech to ease the mental load of parenting and provide a safe space for parents to make and share memories of their children online. It takes a village to raise a child, and in a world where we are more connected but lonelier, I am trying to help parents build their village.
How did the idea come about?
Have you ever seen the face of a disappointed three-year-old? As a busy working mum, it broke my heart when I couldn't get in touch with the parents of my daughter's best friend at nursery. The nursery can't give out that information, so I had no way of inviting my daughter's best friend to her third birthday party. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that I spend hours online finding activities, sharing photos of my kids, sending endless Whatsapp messages to organise playdates and searching for events and clubs for them. There are hundreds of apps to organise and ease my work life, but nothing to help with my family life.
What's the story so far?
playroom is at a really exciting stage. I'm participating in an accelerator programme run by ‘The Centre for Entrepreneurs’ culminating in a pitch day in October. I am working with nurseries and parents to create something that will really help parents reduce their mental load and connect to other families. I have a blog series documenting the highs and lows of parenting and sharing parenting hacks from other mums and dads, and building a strong community of parents.
What are you hoping to achieve in the next 12 months?
I want to build a community of parents who can support and connect with each other. The app is being built, and I am excited to get it out to parents and nurseries. I am hoping to build up our partnerships, working with anyone in the early years and prenatal space, who is looking to create communities for their parents.
What advice would you give to other early-stage founders looking to launch a company?
Go to as many networking and entrepreneurial training programmes as possible. Join start-up networks and find other start-ups working in a similar area to your business. I have made some incredible connections through accelerators and courses like Forward's Funding Lab, that have really helped build momentum and refine my ideas. Get feedback and opinions from lots of different people, most people are happy to help early-stage founders because they know how tough it can be!
What did you learn during Forward's Funding Lab?
One of the most useful things I learnt from Funding Lab was a VC's perspective on investing in start-ups. I gained really useful insights about how VCs might be assessing my company and the sort of decisions they are making. I gained a lot of useful insider tips. I also learned a lot about branding and building a community. The feedback on my pitch was extremely useful and I have refined my pitch and pitch deck as a result.
We're keeping our eyes peeled for Michele’s next movements! You can find out more about playroom here.
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