Startup Stories: Woman (and husband) in tech startup at 50+

“Flexibility is a Life Skill” — banner in my daughter’s grade school cafeteria. At 50, I sold the company I had run for 22 years and made all the preparations to be able to move anywhere in the country with my brilliant software architect husband. Our youngest was off to college, and we wanted to start our own company – together.

When we got married 6 years ago, we wanted to find a way to blend our skill sets and work together, so we could spend every moment of our lives together. I have 20 years of volunteer school fundraising; I kept coming home to him saying “there has to be a way to apply technology to school fundraising.” We did some market research and found it’s a $5B/year business, and one in which local community businesses are completely left out of fundraising efforts for schools.

In late January 2013, we were accepted into the Seed Hatchery startup accelerator in Memphis. With 2 weeks’ notice, we found a furnished loft in Memphis, got a pet sitter to move in to our Indianapolis home, and reported for boot camp. It has been a wonderful ride spending all our time together working on our startup baby. We share the focus and vision to think big, and envision a day when our mobile payment platform will replace the traditional credit card monster with funds being raised for schools.

All the women in my family are amazing — literally trailblazers, like my pioneer great-grandmother who moved her young family all over the country chasing dreams. Or my mother, who started our high school’s first softball team so my sister and I could compete, and went on to be one of the first women in the Illinois HS softball coaches’ Hall of Fame. Or my sister, who gave up her teaching career for her most important student — her son Ben, who was nearly killed in a motorcycle accident at age 19.

Yes, flexibility is a life skill. But lay your plan out, and execute. As they say, you always miss the shots you don’t take.

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