The Story Exchange, Victoria Oldridge, MoxTreeYour Name: Victoria Oldridge

Business Name: MoxTree, an online social network for mothers

Type of Business: Social Networking

Business Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

Twitter   @Moxtree

Reason for starting
Motherhood is a time of great growth, challenge, strength and vulnerability. It’s also a journey in which we have no manual, map, or compass. Moms need other moms to share their range of emotions with and experiences and as a mom to two children under 2 years of age two years ago, I noticed a gap in the way moms were connecting. Moms were coming together based on one common denominator of having a child; it wasn’t enough to form sustainable connections. When I spoke to other moms about my observations, there was an overwhelming sense of agreement with the idea that there needed to be a more efficient route. In an era where more than half of moms are headed back to work after maternity leave and have a myriad of interests, I couldn’t figure out why we weren’t connecting more often based on OUR interests, opposed to all child-centric interests. After some market research and tech development, the MoxTree beta-phase was born.

How do you define success?
Differently than I may have ten years ago. There are the stereotypical parameters of success: volume, growth, dollar value, etc. Those matter to an extent but my ideas of success have evolved immensely over time. The person who takes a leap of faith and a risk on something they believe in is a success right out of the gate. It requires courage to either leave a stable career or add more ‘work’ on to an already long work day, to pursue a dream based on just that, a vision with no guarantee of any ROI. Taking that first step is an enormous, successful step because it’s one of the toughest parts and because that first move breaks the barrier for more future ‘first steps’.

Biggest Success
Hearing testimonials from moms that they’re forming some great connections. This exemplifies the vision for MoxTree, so it’s the epitome of how I define ‘success’ for the platform.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Top challenge is two-fold, one being professional and one personal. From a professional standpoint, men an women speak different languages to begin with. Augment that with a female non-engineer and a male web developer, trying to communicate; it’s a bit of a mess initially. Trying to convey a vision for functionality of a site is very difficult to translate to a developer and the expectations can be misaligned. Someone told me at the beginning of our process that ‘expectations will be your biggest challenge’ and she was absolutely spot on. What we have learned along the way is to write very specific and detailed documentation to provide the developers and to stay in very close contact along the development process. Fortunately, my husband is an engineer and has learned a lot of the backend coding, so he has been a great technical liaison along the way, between myself and the developers.

Who is your most important role model?
Arianna Huffington is a great role model. I originally listened to her speak at a Women’s conference in San Francisco years ago. She inspired me then in her insights and strength, woven with her comedic personality. It was a real struggle for her when she proposed the idea of Huffington Post; people repeatedly told her she couldn’t do it. Look at it now! And, I received some wonderful news yesterday, that I’ll now be a contributor to Huffington Post! Who knew? I like this quote: ‘Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life that the more I exercise it the more natural it becomes to not let my fears run me’. -Arianna Huffington