If you’re an aspiring, expectant or new parent who is feeling a little lost, Alli Kasirer, the founder and CEO of Robyn, hopes her digital marketplace can help you. After living through the emotional and physical rollercoaster of her own fertility journey, Kasirer wants to help other families by giving them the tools they need from pregnancy to early parenthood. Kasirer is also on a mission to make these resources accessible to everyone.
“There’s never been a more pressing time to invest in parental wellness and digital education,” Kasirer says. “The maternal mortality and morbidity stats are staggering. According to the CDC, every twelve hours in the United States, a woman dies from complications from pregnancy or giving birth, and sixty percent of these deaths are preventable.”
Kasirer discussed with Jessica Abo how her company is bringing virtual childbirth and parenting education to parents all around the world and shared her advice for entrepreneurs.
Jessica Abo: Alli, can you tell us a little bit about what made you want to start this company?
Alli Kasirer: Robyn was very much born out of my own personal fertility journey. When I was trying to conceive, we were trying and trying and trying and ended up going through IVF. And during this time, I became really passionate about the intersection of fertility and wellness.
In my personal journey, in addition to going through IVF, I also changed my diet. I changed my exercise routine. I started seeing a reproductive therapist. I started going to fertility acupuncture. But then the biggest thing that happened when I was going through my own journey was, I just started sharing what I was going through publicly on social media. And this was three or four years ago before people were really talking about these vulnerable topics like miscarriage and loss, infertility and IVF. All of a sudden, it started to garner a community.
After I shared my own personal path to parenthood, we started sharing other journeys from women and families going through different things. Fertility journeys, pregnancy journeys, postpartum stories. And Robyn really started with those community roots as a place where you can go and not feel alone in whatever you were going through and potentially connect with other women and families who were going through similar things.
As the community started to grow, we really started to listen and hear pain points and challenges from women and families within the community. And what we heard over and over again was, “Look, I love this collective wisdom that I’m getting on Robyn, but I feel like there’s a real lack of accessibility to expert resources.” This was a light bulb moment for us when we heard this feedback from this community that had grown over time and said, “What if we could combine that collective wisdom of the community with the expert providers and the resources and the classes, and really set out on a mission to make parental wellness and parental education accessible to all?”https://secureframe.doubleclick.net/container.html?ecs=20201219
Now on Robyn, you can find and book a provider as easy as booking a restaurant reservation. You can also take our virtual childbirth education class called “Parentbirth.” A lot of those in-person hospital birthing classes have been canceled right now, so we made that option virtual and accessible and modern.
Is there a woman named Robyn who inspired you to name this company after her? Where does the name Robyn come from?
Kasirer: You are Batman. We are Robyn. You are strong as a patient, as a parent. You can self-advocate for yourself, but everybody needs a Robyn. Everybody needs a sidekick. Everybody needs a partner, especially along this path to parenthood where we need so much support. Robin, as a bird, symbolizes rebirth and renewal and springtime. It’s a sign of hope, and that’s really the feeling that we hope that people get when they come to Robyn.
What advice do you want to give to the aspiring, expecting, and new parents out there?
Kasirer: It is a really challenging time to be either trying to conceive, to be pregnant, to be a new parent. So really thinking about building your village. Birth is so much more than just that physical event. It’s a whole life transformation. That’s why we like to use the term parentbirth, because really a parent has been born and that parent needs nurturing and needs the care, very similar to the way that a baby does. And unfortunately, we live in a country where I think 89 percent of mothers don’t feel supported by society. We really have to recreate that village for ourselves. We really have to take ownership of it.
Whether it’s building your village with family, with friends, with an in-person or a virtual new moms support group, that’s all great and that can really contribute to supporting your success, but also know that there is professional support out there for you. If you’re looking to connect with a fertility coach, a doula, an infant sleep coach, a lactation consultant, that that can be a really nice compliment to the community support that you’re getting from family, from friends, from new mom groups, because those professionals have studied and really have been trained in the best ways to support you as a new parent.
This is such a challenging time for so many people. What advice do you have for entrepreneurs to power through this?
Kasirer: There are a few things that I really try to remind myself on a day-to-day basis. The first being, listen and pause. As founders, we have a tendency to want to go really fast. We want to get that new product feature out the door. We want to get new funding in the door. And it’s just so important as a leader of the company to just learn how to respond consciously instead of reacting. And that’s just something that’s really helped me along the way, especially during this time where there’s been so much change.
Pay attention to what brings you joy as an entrepreneur and as a founder, because if there’s no joy in the work, what’s the point? That goes along with reaffirming your why and why you started this in the first place.
Get more comfortable with uncertainty. The more comfortable I get in not knowing what’s going to happen next, I think the less fearful I am as an entrepreneur, the better leader I can become. And leadership doesn’t mean that you have to hold yourself to that unrealistic expectation that you need to know every single step along the way.