Yan-Ting Choong and Sarah Agboola knew that they wanted to run their own businesses. But neither knew where to start, or if they even could. I sat down with Agboola and Choong to find out what they've been doing, and how 3DS has helped turned their dream into a reality.
“I've always wanted to start my own company to create an impact, and drive societal change,” said Choong. “While waiting for the business idea to emerge, I attended seminars and hackathons, to develop my business skills.”
The Wade Institute’s 3-Day Startup (3DS) was one of the programs Choong signed up for. It was here that she met Sarah Agboola, who had, up to that point, also thought it was impossible for her to run her own business. “I thought it was something that I could only achieve once I had X amount of experience,” Agboola revealed.
I didn’t realise that the only thing you need is an idea, support and passion until 3DS. Sarah Agboola
Sarah Agboola and Yan-Ting Choong of m-Time
The idea for m-Time (a personal Mumcierge dedicated to making sure that you and your family's needs are always taken care of) was suggested by Choong to her group during 3DS. After learning about the Asian concept of 'confinement nannies' – specially trained women who are engaged for short periods after childbirth to give the new parents a helping hand, Sarah loved the m-time idea too. Choong had also realised that in Australia, no such service was currently available to parents.
Sensing a gap in parents being able to get stress and guilt-free time for themselves, the pair began investigating the best way to introduce this concept to Australian families. For both Agboola, of Nigerian descent, and Malaysian Chinese Choong, having both grown up in cultures that rely on help after childbirth, the saying ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ resonated strongly. They decided it was time for a change here in Australia.
“It works in other countries. We wanted to make it the norm in Australia too,” said Agboola. “m-Time's mission is to create an environment for busy parents to have time for self-care.”
How was the idea of m-Time conceived?
> Agboola: As part of the 3DS program, we had to pitch ideas for a startup at a brainstorming session. Ting pitched the idea for m-Time then, and I loved it as I had coincidentally just learnt of confinement nannies a few days prior on a parenting blog. We decided to explore this idea after 3DS had concluded and we both decided take on the Master of Entrepreneurship full-time. It took up all our spare time, but we’re glad we’ve put in the hours.
What did you think about 3DS at the end of the 3 days?
> Agboola: The experience was life-changing. We learnt so much from the program it led to us enrolling in the Master of Entrepreneurship. We thought, “If this is how much we can learn in 3 days, what will we learn in a year?” I think I can speak for both of us when I say that going to 3DS was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Meeting our initial team members was also great; we worked really well together. We are all still friendly to this day even though only Ting and I have continued developing the idea.
You’re in soft launch phase now – congratulations! What have your beta-testers said so far?
> Agboola: Beta testing was a fun experience. It really clarified for us why the problem we were solving was important. One of the most profound moments happened when we met up with a tester for an interview. We asked her what type of mums would need a product like ours. She replied, "mums like me", and started crying. Her whole family was interstate, her partner worked full-time and she felt isolated and overwhelmed all the time. She didn’t know it was possible to get help.
> Choong: Testers who have started using m-Time have been really grateful. A young mother was able to study for her exams, then put her feet up to read a magazine while her Mumcierge completed her chores. She said, “This is the life!” Another mum said it was the perfect baby shower gift that allowed her to take her kids to the park while her Mumcierge shopped for her groceries and did the laundry.
What aspect of 3DS was most inspiring?
> Choong: The mentors! The depth of their knowledge and experience was incredible. Having them on hand to workshop problems and lead us to consider our ideas in a new light was amazing. Having past 3DS alumni there was also really exciting. It let us see what could come of our ideas if we just stick to them. For me, a major discovery was "you don’t know what you don’t know!" 3DS made me realise areas I was lacking in, and provided the guidance and tools to fill in these gaps.