Becoming a parent brings along new financial responsibilities and woes – more than what you could ever imagine. But what if you could find a way to ease that financial stress by raising money for your new bundle of joy as an expecting mom or dad?
Kimberly Jolasun, the founder of the Gender Reveal Game, created her startup to help expecting moms raise money by having friends and family guess the baby’s gender with money.
The Bronx native never imagined being a startup founder. After finishing college in New Jersey, getting married, and landing a promising career in the pharmaceutical field, the entrepreneurship world was never in Kimberly’s career trajectory.
However, her career journey took a turn down the road less traveled once she became pregnant with her first baby and moved her family to Atlanta.
This was about two years ago, and Kimberly and her family were very excited about the new bundle of joy coming into their lives. Kimberly’s family was really pressing the idea of Kimberly and her husband having a gender reveal party, because who doesn’t like a gender reveal party? If you’ve never heard of a gender reveal party, it’s an exciting event where the parents-to-be join their family and friends to, as one, figure out the sex of the baby. Typically food and games are involved, and some kind of creative way for the parents to reveal the gender of the baby is displayed.
As you can see, gender reveal parties is a time for fun, food, and fellowship, but Kimberly’s husband and his family weren’t as pumped up to have one. On Kimberly’s husband side of the family, it had been about 20 years since a girl was born, so to them, they knew exactly what sex the baby would be.
Inspired to challenge her husband and his family, Kimberly ended up having a gender reveal party and asked family and friends to bet on whether she was having a boy or girl. Within a few days, she raised $800 for her baby.
From there, she had a few other expecting moms play her gender reveal game and they too were able to raise a good amount of money for their baby. Her success and the success from the other expecting moms showed her that her idea was viable and one that could make money.
Soon after, Kimberly started working on her startup idea, Gender Reveal Game. Because Gender Reveal Game is a tech product and because she was becoming a founder, Kimberly knew that it would be important to immerse herself in the tech and entrepreneurship space. If there was a networking event, a tech meetup, or a pitch competition, Kimberly was there.
“One thing that I learned about doing this is that you can really see and learn how people are pitching, what type of questions founders are getting, and it’s normally an open bar so that’s a plus,” Kimberly shared.
The next thing Kimberly did was look for someone to help build out the first version of her website. Since Kimberly isn’t technical, she knew how important it would be to get at least a public beta version launched so that customers and investors could see and use her product.
Later around November 2018, Kimberly launched her site, and a month later she decided to quit her job to pursue her new startup venture full-time. Kimberly was encouraged to make the switch from part-time founder to full-time founder because she got into an accelerator and was able to get funding. As Kimberly told me, “I figured if someone believed in this enough to give me money, I may be on to something.”
Seeking out funding was critical for Kimberly because she knew that if she had financial backing and support, it would help her scale faster and further develop her product. Launching her business and getting funding has taught Kimberly so many things about starting a business.
If you are an early stage founder or looking to get into entrepreneurship, here are 3 quick pieces of advice from Kimberly:
1. Don’t be scared to answer the hard questions
“One of the other things that I did was literally apply for everything, even if it seemed like it was out of reach. Doing this helped because each time I had to fill out a very long and exhausting application that asked me new questions that I had to think about. These questions ranged from asking about my business model, or about my team, or how I’m succeeding and building without a core team. The more you fill out these applications, it forces you to think harder and it helps you shape your company better.”
2. Get yourself out there
“Along with attending several networking events and pitch competitions, I was also meeting new people. I believe that there is one thing to fill out a cold application and send it in. But there is another thing when the person that’s reading your application, recognizes your company name or your name, then they look at your application a little differently.”
3. Consider an accelerator
“I don’t care what anyone says, unless you are extremely lucky to where your product just takes off, and you wake up one day and your business unexpectedly has half a million users, there is an art, or really a complicated equation, to raising money and running a business. Unless you have the investor already in your network and you are close to them like a friend or family member, there is a particular way on how to raise money, gain trust, and how to approach an investor. There is truly a science to this that I didn’t realize until I got into the accelerator.
The accelerator route is really good for first-time founders because it helps you learn and expand your network. If you choose to not go the accelerator route, you need to intentionally surround yourself with other founders. That’s essentially part of what an accelerator is; an accelerator is comprised of different founders learning and building their startups.”
Since being in the accelerator and getting funding, Kimberly is looking to raise more capital and is laser-focused on growing her team and scaling her business. Keep up with Kimberly and her startup Gender Reveal Game on Instagram, and if you’re expecting, be sure to use her product to make you and your baby some money.