Yasmine El-Mehairy, speaking from her new office in a co-working space, shares behind-the-scenes details on the process of building Supermama, the first online parenting community for mothers in the Arab World, which addresses topics from pregnancy and parenting, to balancing households and careers, and even cooking advice, in collaboration with Amman-based recipe and instruction site Zaytouneh.
SuperMama offers content in Arabic and English divided into six main sections: Pregnancy, Parenting, Kitchen (nutrition, recipes), Homes (cleaning, budgeting, planning a party), Me time (exercise, diet, health fitness, balance), and SuperPapa.
El-Mehairy, who built the platform along with co-founder Zeinab Samir, discusses her approach to monetization, and how the team worked to improve their business model in various startup competitions. Being semifinalists in the MIT Arab Business Plan Competition 2010, winning a slew of competitions last year, including the NexGen IT Competition, an Innovation Competition based in Poland, and Arabnet Cairo, and being chosen as a semifinalist in the Google Ebda2 Competition helped them gain not just prizes but friends and partners, she says.
El-Mehairy makes it sound easy, but building a portal by mothers for mothers has its challenges, she admits: "This week three of my volunteers gave birth."
Yet having moms onboard is also what makes the site authentic. "For moms it helps a lot to know that you are understood and heard, and this is why we're talking to you," she says. "It's not like you have someone in a [higher position] telling you what to do; It's more of, 'I've been there and I've tried that, and this is my advice to you.'"
The site isn't exclusive to women alone, however. "10 to 15% of our visitors are men," says El-Mehairy, explaining why the portal has a section dedicated to helping men better understand mothers and mothers-to-be.
Other sites serving women, such as e-commerce portal Mumzworld and job-matching and fashion and events resource Promomz, have cropped up this year, but they are more likely to be collaborators than direct competitors as Supermama's approach to date has been to incorporate new sections from partners and mutually share content. Their biggest challenge right now, aside from garnering funding, appears to be bandwidth as they handle requests from moms and work to address customers.
Feel free to ask Yasmine and Zeinab your questions in the comments below.