A trained singer and actress, Genevieve calls herself the “first opera-singing entrepreneur.” She started Sittercity while studying at Boston College after watching a very pregnant mom try to post her own flyers around town. Genevieve had no prior business experience, and no knowledge of web design or programming.
What she did have was an uncanny ability to sell herself, a thriving network of moms from years of babysitting, and an unstoppable determination to make her idea work.
Today, Sittercity is America’s first and largest network to connect parents with caregivers online – from childcare and pet care to home care and tutoring. It brings millions of users together in a two-sided marketplace that operates in the USA, Canada, and the UK.
Genevieve’s story is an inspiring one, especially for founders with non-traditional backgrounds. In her case, success came with healthy doses of persistence and creativity. When building her site, Genevieve achieved critical mass by printing nearly 20,000 posters and displaying them around college campuses.
She even chased down mothers in supermarkets (“I just pitched them in the frozen food aisle”).
When it came time to introduce Sittercity to the world, Genevieve was relentless. In our interview, I call her the “ninja” of startup PR. By intricately crafting and selling the perfect pitch to busy producers, Genevieve scored segments on Ellen, the Today Show, and the CBS Morning Show. She even spent time as the babysitting expert on iVillage.
In the full video below, Genevieve gives us all a crash course on how we can be better promoters of our businesses. She also talks about the details of finding the right price point in a bootstrapped business (they only sought seed funding after five years of operation), and the delicate but potentially rewarding practice of exiting the company.
We hope you enjoyed this interview with Genevieve, and look forward to the taping of our next Chicago Founders’ Stories@1871 with WyzAnt co-founder Andrew Geant on July 16th! Click here to sign up for the event.
Pat Ryan is a business and social entrepreneur who has created several high growth software companies as well as several innovative urban education initiatives as a social entrepreneur. Pat’s first company, FirstLook, was recognized by Inc Magazine in 2008 as the #4 fastest growing software company in the U.S. in its Inc 500 rankings – the highest ranking ever for a Chicago based software company. Pat is also the Founder of MAX Digital as well as the Founder and CEO of INCISENT Labs, a platform and incubator for innovative, industry-changing technologies that spin out into high growth companies. MAX Digital was created in INCISENT Labs where Pat and a team are currently incubating their latest start-up. Pat blogs at Coolerbythelake.com and can be reached on Twitter @PatRyanChicago.