Written by Elena Yunusov
How did Datenight get started?
I wanted a date night! My first child never slept and my second did but got into everything — I was desperate for some time away. I figured it was a scheduling problem, so I built that solution and no one really seemed to care. Then I thought, ‘this would be so much easier to use if I had a babysitter’ — that was the actual pain point. Datenight in its current form was born shortly thereafter.
What were your early days like? How was your background instrumental to starting it and keeping it going and growing?
In the early days it was a lot of hustle — it still is, really. I was putting up some homemade posters around my neighbourhood and someone from the Toronto Star called and asked if he could come to our office to interview us. Office? I was two days post-surgery, working in my pajamas from home. We weren't totally ready for the floodgates that opened; CP24 and CityTV called, and I was on the radio. It definitely helped us with name recognition!
As to my background, having the technical skills definitely helped. it would have been far more expensive — probably prohibitively so — if we had to contract this work out. When you're trying to find product-market fit, you have to keep evolving your product. You make something, see how people use it, what they complain about, and then you try to make it better.
What kind of support and feedback have you heard from the community?
We have a really supportive community on both sides of our platform. Connecting parents with caregivers is pretty important and we take it seriously. We help parents get a bit more balance and babysitters get some steady income. It's pretty nice when your platform can come through like that, and people are super appreciative.
What stage are you at with your business? What are your plans for growth?
We are steadily growing — much of it is organic as we get such strong word-of-mouth referrals. Obviously we face some challenges; we’re women and we operate in the childcare space, which are both tricky things to overcome when you’re looking to raise money. We've got something pretty big up our sleeve, though. Stay tuned!
Why do you do what you do? What keeps you going?
I love building stuff. I love solving problems. I love writing code. Running a startup is the best of all worlds — our team gets to creatively solve problems. It feels awesome. That being said, it's a journey. There are valleys. But you have to know that there are good things on the other side; a team that sticks together through the tough times is a must.
There are always challenges. Access to capital, for sure. I think most female entrepreneurs would say that. Surprise, surprise.
Any advice you would like to share with other founders and entrepreneurs?
Just do it. Make sure you talk to people. Go to events sometimes. It often seems like your time could be better spent, but awesome connections can come out of events and serendipity is helpful. Sell your wares for what they’re worth. People will pay for a good service.
Photo Credit: Rebecca Tisdelle