At Interactive Accounting, we have the privilege of working with a diverse range of clients – many of whom are looking to change the world or disrupt their own industry niche through the products they build or the services they provide.
Our Client Spotlight features one of our amazing clients sharing their stories of success and the learnings they’ve picked up on their journey along the way.
For this month’s Client Spotlight, we caught up with the founders of Circle In – Jodi Geddes & Kate Pollard, two working mums turned entrepreneurs who shared a vision on how support for working parents, navigating career transitions and workplace parental leave policies, could be a whole lot better.
Tell us a bit about Circle In’s mission…
Circle In was first established to help women take control of their parental leave journey and return to work with confidence. Today we have evolved into a one stop solution that elevates the way organisations support working parents and carers. We offer easy to follow tips and advice for parents as well as hands-on support that enables managers to stay in touch with their employees when on leave, and successfully re-onboard them while offering continual support.
How did you decide to start your business?
Kate: Both Jodi and I had our kids around the same time so our experiences, during parental leave and after we returned to work, were similar. We often found that we did not get the support we needed and were left off of key communications upon return. This impacted our confidence as well as our career development and we knew there were others in the same boat. So it was over the multiple play dates and coffee catch ups that Jodi and I had during our first few years as mums that Circle In was born.
What were some of the challenges you faced initially?
The hardest part was landing the idea and how to take it to market. We knew that there was a real need to improve the experience for working parents like us but it took a while to work out how to build the platform and choose our name, Circle In. The next challenge was how to scale. It was the tension between staying small or growing too quickly. When it was just the two of us, things were in some ways easier but the workload was intense. We worked every spare moment while juggling two small kids each. Now that we have a team, the workload has obviously eased but our focus has now shifted to building a globally scalable business.
Being the first global mover in this market, what sets your business apart?
When a business signs on with us, our service offers support every step of the way. We’re talking right from onboarding the employees, customising their portal based on their business needs, supporting their managers and employees with off-boarding, staying in touch and re-onboarding while offering a holistic suite of content to keep them engaged. Everything we do we are also measuring the impact and the insights that we provide back to our customers are very powerful.
Tell us more about your ‘Stay In Touch’ program for parents?
Our Stay In Touch Program is unique and delivers results. It’s a fully personalised program suitable for small businesses to global enterprises, with manager coaching and detailed reporting capability. Importantly, our online platform gives employees career and parental advice tailored to their journey.
Why is it so important to help organisations and working parents with more gender neutral policies and support for career transitions and a better work-life integration?
As a society, we often speak about equality and treating both genders the same. However, if policies and employee culture do not support this, we will not get very far. The same way we encourage women to come back to work, we also need to encourage dads to take time off and enjoy the special time with their children. We’re proud to be partnering with clients in Australia, NZ, UK and the US that share our vision and sentiment around this matter.
“As a society, we often speak about equality and treating both genders the same. However, if policies and employee culture do not support this, we will not get very far.”
Circle In had some big wins last year – closing a $1.5million funding round, expanding to the UK & US and partnering with some big names in business such as L’Oréal Australia & Coca Cola Amatil.
What factors have played a role in helping your rapid growth and success?
We launched our business at a time when the conversation around parental leave was starting to shift, more people were talking about sharing the load and encouraging dads to go home. There was a huge need in the market as well as a knowledge gap which we met. We also partnered with progressive companies who shared our vision for change and quickly evolved our product as their needs grew.
Overall, I think we’ve been very focussed on our purpose and razor-sharp in our ability to execute quickly and adapt to the market.
Our funding enables us to supercharge our business and realise our future growth plans. It’s really exciting to explore the opportunities globally and further drive a better experience for working parents.
What have you loved most about your startup journey so far?
Every day is a different adventure. New wins, new challenges, new everything! It keeps you on your toes and encourages a constant growth mindset! You also meet some amazing people in the space – people who help you further your business because they believe in what you are doing. It is all very uplifting!
What difference has it made to your business by having a virtual CFO?
It’s really important to put the right rigour around your financials as your business scales. Having Gareth as part of our management team ensures that we are making informed business decisions and he also keeps us accountable for delivery. Having a good CFO in place is essential to scaling and growing your business and having a partner who can guide us through this period of growth has been invaluable.
“Having a good CFO in place is essential to scaling and growing your business and having a partner who can guide us through this period of growth has been invaluable.”
What advice would you give to other businesses looking to improve their workplace policies to support their working parents?
Just do it! Your parents will love you for it and will repay you with increased loyalty, lower attrition rate, and all-round more productivity and job satisfaction.