Anna-Lena Gerber is a mission to improve the lives of families through community-building and social innovation. She is the Co-Founder & CEO of Mello, a Berlin-based startup and Techstars Accelerator alumni, which aims to help parents build strong local support networks online and in the real world. Find out how she entered the startup world, what is it about entrepreneurship that particularly attracts her, and which lessons for founders she shared with us.
1. Hi Anna-Lena, thank you for agreeing to do the interview. Could you tell us a bit about your background and how you entered the startup world?
In my early 20’s I studied two supposedly unrelated subjects: Early Child Pedagogy and, later on, International Business and Entrepreneurship. During my studies, I worked in several babysitting agencies, and my desire to become an entrepreneur grew. I started my agency together with my sisters while I was still in university.
2. You’re the Co-Founder & CEO of Mello, a Berlin-based startup and Techstars Accelerator alumni, which aims to help parents build strong local support networks online and in the real world. Tell us more about your mission and the idea that got it all started!
Mello started as a childcare exchange app called SitEinander (meaning ‘sit each other’) that functioned as a digital babysitting co-op. We wanted to help families who were struggling without a proper social support network. Soon, it became clear that the problem was bigger than just childcare, and our solution was only tackling a tiny part of it. We widened our focus towards helping families make connections with other parents in the neighborhood and for all kinds of needs: playground dates, friendships, and of course, babysitting swaps.
In summer 2020, we re-launched and rebranded the app from SitEinander to Mello and have seen a massive boost since then.
3. What is it about entrepreneurship that particularly attracts you?
I think it’s simply wonderful to take an idea and bring it to life. When the idea happens to influence the people around you positively, that’s a fantastic feeling.
It’s always interesting as well. As a founder, you are learning on so many levels: from marketing strategy to technology. I’m challenged to grow my mental and emotional capabilities every day. Of course, it’s also hard and painful from time to time. That makes the sweet times even sweeter.
4. As a successful entrepreneur, what are the top 3 lessons for founders you would like to share with our readers?
- Start your company with a person or a team that shares your vision. The most successful startups that survive the first 2 – 5 years tend to be a team. That’s important because your ideas should get challenged. People who partner up with someone tend to survive longer than one-person businesses
- Embrace randomness
- Build your network before you need it
5. What’s the next big thing in the startup world? What do you predict for the German startup ecosystem in the near future?
Definitely, the new parentech economy. The demands of digitally skilled Millenials and Gen-Z parents are changing family life.
Thank you for sharing your story, Anna-Lena. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors!
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