Angela McIver started her first business, an after school math club called Trapezium Math Club, when her children were in elementary school. As her Philadelphia-based business continued to grow McIver looked to find new math games and activities for children. And thus her latest spin-off business, Dinner Table Math was born. Dinner table math is technology-free and empowers parents to build strong, confident math learners at home.
McIver’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
Dinner Table Math is a spin off of Trapezium Math Club — an after school math program I started when my children were in elementary school. We began developing math games and activities for elementary-age children to build skill and confidence in math at an early age. This year, we took what we learned from Trapezium Math Club and created Dinner Table Math, games and activities to empower parents to build strong, confident math learners at home.
Success to me is continuing to keep your head down and your focus on your work when few people believe in what you’re doing. The success is not at the end of the road, the success IS the road and a willingness to continue even in the face of rejection. Those who do that are the most successful people I know.
I have a PhD in math education and study how children learn math. When my own children started elementary school, it became clear that the curriculum used in most elementary math programs was not adequate for preparing strong math students. We know this because 60% of 4th graders in the U.S. are not proficient in math (according to the NAEP). However, my criticism of elementary math programs was rebuked and my calls for changes in my own children’s elementary school math program were dismissed. So I started my own after-school math program and this year, the only students from my children’s school who tested in honors math in the selective high school in our city were Trapezium Math Club kids! THAT’S WHAT I CALL SUCCESS (and validation, and vindication)! It took 7 years, but I proved the naysayers wrong!
When we launched Dinner Table Math I just thought “if I build it they will come!” But, I’m realizing now that creating a name for ourselves and selling takes almost all of my time. I decided to hire a manager to run Trapezium Math Club and I’m cycling down on other commitments so that I can focus full-time on sales for 2019 which includes building a sales team. The best business decision ever made was when my husband and I decided that he would not have an ownership stake in my business. I no longer talk with him about my business and it has saved our marriage. We’re both much happier as a result.
I have many role models and most are names I can’t remember. They are mostly female entrepreneurs who have endured difficult challenges and overcome these challenges to build strong businesses. I listen to (or read) their stories and it continues to motivate me. I am also surprised to discover that my children are my role models. I learn so much from their developing personalities and have often tried to model their behavior. I try to be like my youngest daughter who leaves absolutely nothing in the pool when she races, or my son who so willingly does chores he hates without complaint, or my eldest daughter who has developed such an incredible thirst for knowledge that she is the one recommending podcasts to me!
This post has been updated to include the owner’s expansion