Every entrepreneur dreams of reaching a level of success where their business is a well-known brand-name to their audience, new users or customers are becoming interested in their product every single day, and of course, someone knocks on their door with a multi-million dollar offer to buy a company that once started as a tiny idea.
Last year, Whitney Wolfe, the founder of the “women-first dating app", Bumble, made headlines for declining a $450 M dollar acquisition offer.
While some might have read that headline and wondered what the heck she was thinking, others might have found themselves cheering her on.
Wondering why? For starters, the offer came from Match Group, a company that also owns dozens of popular dating websites and apps, like Match.com, OKCupid, and Tinder.
If you don't know much about Wolfe's background, know this: she was also the co-founder of Tinder and served as its VP of Marketing for two years. She ended up leaving with a lawsuit in her hands for the parent company, InterActive Corp, alleging sexual harassment and sex discrimination.
Perhaps that was all the fuel she needed to launch Bumble, an app that empowers women to find love, friendship, and soon business connections.
So not only did she turn down the cash from a company that now owns the dating app she once helped start and then left once she was taken advantage of, she also realized that the offer wasn't such a good one, even though $450 M dollars might seem like a whole lot of cash.
If we take a step back and examine what really happened when she declined Match Group's acquisition, we can learn these three important things.
Photo Courtesy of The New York Post
1. Don't Settle
While it might be tempting to go with the first offer someone gives you when you're doing business or hire the first person you interview, as an entrepreneur, adopt the motto that you just won't settle.
It's something a lot of us say to ourselves when it comes to love, so why don't we stress it more when it comes to how we run our business too? Just because a large acquisition was dropped on Wolfe's table, doesn't mean she had to agree just to play it safe. She exuded confidence and decided to go with her gut that the best is yet to come with her app and with future offers that might come her way.
2. Know Your Worth
One lesson to learn as a brand new entrepreneur is that you shouldn't let your excitement rule your decisions. It might be a huge milestone moment when a large company puts in an offer to acquire your company or product, but it doesn't mean you should sign on the dotted line immediately. Evaluate the worth of your company and the projected worth over the next five years. If the offer is lower, you may want to decline, counter-offer, or continue to build the company and take it public.
In Wolfe's case, she might have laughed at the $450 M dollar offer, since last year, Bumble had an expected evaluation of $500 M. Who knows what it's worth this year or will be worth in the future with all the expansion and new features that Wolfe is launching over the coming months.
Photo Courtesy of Vogue
3. Grow Your Own Way
One of the biggest potential reasons what Wolfe said “No, thanks" to this deal was that she has her own plans for expansion in the coming months and a potential acquisition could cut her and her ideas out of the picture. She's looking to add new features to the app, like an easier way to swap between dating and finding friends, adding a business connection service for networking, and a new look and feel to the app.
Perhaps the lesson learned here is that if you have a vision, go for it. Don't let money talk or change your course when you believe in your product or business and feel it's worth more than anyone is willing to offer you right now in the moment.
New parents re-entering the workforce are often juggling the tangible realities of daycare logistics, sleep deprivation, and a cascade of overwhelming work. No matter how parents build their family, they often struggle with the guilt of being split between home and work and not feeling exceptionally successful in either place.
Women building their families often face a set of challenges different from men. Those who have had children biologically may be navigating the world of pumping at work. Others might feel pulled in multiple directions when bringing a child into their home after adoption. Some women are trying to learn how to care for a newborn for the first time. New parents need all the help they can get with their transition.
Women returning to work after kids sometimes have to address comments such as:
"I didn't think you'd come back."
"You must feel so guilty."
"You missed a lot while you were out."
To counteract this difficult situation, women are finding mentors and making targeting connections. Parent mentors can help new moms address integrating their new life realities with work, finding resources within the organization and local community, and create connections with peers.
There's also an important role for parent mentors to play in discussing career trajectory. Traditionally, men who have families see more promotions compared to women with children. Knowing that having kids may represent a career setback for women, they may work with their mentors to create an action plan to "back on track" or to get recognized for their contributions as quickly as possible after returning to work.
Previously, in a bid to accommodate mothers transitioning back to work, corporate managers would make a show at lessoning the workload for newly returned mothers. This approach actually did more harm than good, as the mother's skills and ambitions were marginalized by these alleged "family friendly" policies, ultimately defining her for the workplace as a mother, rather than a person focused on career.
Today, this is changing. Some larger organizations, such as JP Morgan Chase, have structured mentorship programs that specifically target these issues and provide mentors for new parents. These programs match new parents navigating a transition back to work with volunteer mentors who are interested in helping and sponsoring moms. Mentors in the programs do not need to be moms, or even parents, themselves, but are passionate about making sure the opportunities are available.
It's just one other valuable way corporations are evolving when it comes to building quality relationships with their employees – and successfully retaining them, empowering women who face their own set of special barriers to career growth and leadership success.
Mentoring will always be a two way street. In ideal situations, both parties will benefit from the relationship. It's no different when women mentor working mothers getting back on track on the job. But there a few factors to consider when embracing this new form of mentorship
How to be a good Momtor?
Listen: For those mentoring a new parent, one of the best strategies to take is active listening. Be present and aware while the mentee shares their thoughts, repeat back what you hear in your own words, and acknowledge emotions. The returning mother is facing a range of emotions and potentially complicated situations, and the last thing she wants to hear is advice about how she should be feeling about the transition. Instead, be a sounding board for her feelings and issues with returning to work. Validate her concerns and provide a space where she can express herself without fear of retribution or bull-pen politics. This will allow the mentee a safe space to sort through her feelings and focus on her real challenges as a mother returning to work.
Share: Assure the mentee that they aren't alone, that other parents just like them are navigating the transition back to work. Provide a list of ways you've coped with the transition yourself, as well as your best parenting tips. Don't be afraid to discuss mothering skills as well as career skills. Work on creative solutions to the particular issues your mentee is facing in striking her new work/life balance.
Update Work Goals: A career-minded woman often faces a new reality once a new child enters the picture. Previous career goals may appear out of reach now that she has family responsibilities at home. Each mentee is affected by this differently, but good momtors help parents update her work goals and strategies for realizing them, explaining, where applicable, where the company is in a position to help them with their dreams either through continuing education support or specific training initiatives.
Being a role model for a working mother provides a support system, at work, that they can rely on just like the one they rely on at home with family and friends. Knowing they have someone in the office, who has knowledge about both being a mom and a career woman, will go a long way towards helping them make the transition successfully themselves.