Mamalette provides tools and resources that help Nigerian mothers and mothers-to-be connect with others going through similar experiences. Founded by Anike Lawal, Mamalette launched in late 2013 and since then has become the go-to community for Nigerian mothers. Over 70,000 mothers and mothers-to-be look to Mamalette as a home to discover and connect with information that can help shape and improve their lives. Taking the community offline, Mamalette is organizing a motherhood expo – Mamalette Live which will hold on the 14th of November 2015.
Techpoint spent an afternoon with the industrious founder to discuss the journey so far and what is to come.
Can you give us a brief introduction of yourself?
Hi, my name is Anike Lawal, I’m the founder of Mamalette. I started Mamalette in November 2013. Prior to that, I got a B.Sc. in Business Studies and French from Trinity College, Durblin Ireland and then an M.Sc. from London School of Economics. I was in France for a year but that was during my undergrad at exec business school. That’s pretty much the long and short of it.
It seems you’ve always had an interest in business
Yes I have. Probably because I come from a family of entrepreneurs. Both my parents were entrepreneurs – they started their own thing. My grandmother was an entrepreneur as well and you know I’ve always seen people work for themselves and not other people so that has been a part of my background.
Where are you from?
I’m from Abeokuta, Ogun state – that’s where my father is from….
Interesting… I would have assumed everybody in your family was like Igbo or something
What’s your work history like? Have you ever worked for someone?
Yes I have, I initially started work at KMPG at their management consulting unit. I did that for two years and I knew it wasn’t for me so I jumped to Dealdey limited. I did that for 6 months and then I knew it wasn’t for me and then I started Mamalette.
That’s a lot of experimenting… so why Mamalette?
Well…. It’s something I had been thinking about for a long time. I’m really into research, you know. I have research skills from my management consulting experience. So the first time I became pregnant, I started Googling and looking online for Nigerian moms and I didn’t find anything that was comprehensive and rich enough and I was like ok so there is a gap here so why not fill that gap. Working at Dealdey helped me see how I could achieve that because prior to that I really didn’t know what tech was, I really didn’t understand the industry. Working at Dealdey opened my eyes and helped me see that there are tools that can help you grow your idea and make it scalable.
What exactly were you doing while you were with Dealdey?
I was in the finance unit. I was helping the company iron out their processes and everything so I was still using my management consulting skills to organize the finance unit. Actually my role was financial controller but it sounds like a very big job, that’s why I don’t like saying outside. (Giggles)
So how has the journey been so far?
I didn’t expect it to be easy though… you know I’ve had the good days, the ups and downs but I think the reason I’m still sticking to it is because I believe in it and I believe that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel while maybe a lot of people can’t. I have some family members who probably think “what’s she doing?’’ and I remember one of my cousins asking me “When are you doing to get a real job?”. I can see the vision of where I want to take Mamalette to. I’m not there yet and that’s why I’m still sticking to it.
Okay, What exactly are the challenges you faced?
Well I think the greatest challenge for every business or startup is you have to know who your customers are and if they are willing to pay for what you have to offer. I don’t think anything else is a challenge because to be honest I feel when you have a passion for something or an interest; you turn your problems into challenges that motivate you to want to solve them.
What inspires you… what keeps Anike going?
What keeps me going… (pauses) I believe I have a calling, I believe that Mamalette is an idea that found me and not me necessarily finding it . There are so many dimensions to it that I see and I’m like “How am I able to cope or adapt to a lot of things… all the balls that keep getting thrown at me. I get inspired by music. I’m sure when people ask “what inspires you” most people pick a name or mentor or role model but for me that’s not it. I remember seeing a quote by one of the Williams sisters. She was asked who she wanted to be when she grew up and she said “I want to be me” and that was her at age 8. I think that’s it for me… I want to be me. Yeah there are a lot of people that inspire you and motivate you and things like that but I think I motivate myself to be honest. I have my own goals and I strive to reach them.
What are the future plans?
What are my future plans… to dominate, to take over Africa. I want every single woman once she becomes a mother and is pregnant or is even thinking of getting pregnant, the first thing she thinks about is Mamalette and Mamalette for information, Mamalette as a guide to help her through her journey; because a lot of people just assume that when you get married and you have sex you should know how to cope with everything else that comes but really it doesn’t work that way. You know a lot of women find it very strange because different things are happening to you and to your body and you have all the symptoms and then the baby comes and every baby is actually different. Oh you might feel your first child and second child should be the same but it is totally different. So you have questions and you have concerns and a lot of mothers are modern you know we have tools that our parents did not have – so many apps you can use, you can just Google stuff. So basically when you have a mother or mother in law telling you outdated stuff you kind of question it and want to know what other women like you are going through. That’s what Mamalette is – to create that community where women feel they are not alone especially new ones. So that’s the aim – to dominate and take over.
What will you say to inspire other ladies out there?
I would say find something you are passionate about and once you find something you are passionate about, put all your energy into it. If you decide you have an idea and you want to do other things on the side, I don’t think your idea can take off like that. Sometimes you have to put your energy and passion into something and even if it fails, you know you gave it your best. So find something you are passionate about and give it your best shot!
Nigerian startups raised $178m from 166 deals in 2018. Find out more when you purchase Techpoint’s Nigerian Startup Funding Report 2018 here.