Any parent will admit that tackling a professional career while raising children is challenging, to say the least.
The majority of workplaces don’t comprehensively support parents, new or otherwise, meaning there’s often not enough time to juggle the responsibility of looking after a child versus progressing in a career.
While many fathers are affected, this issue remains of particular concern for mothers in particular.
Looking to help fix this problem, Western Australian entrepreneur Elio Adragna and his team have developed an app to help stay-at-home mothers connect with others in their local area and offer each other their professional services.
The idea for the platform came as Adragna, who originally worked as a chemical engineer in Italy, saw his wife take on the challenges facing women who take on the responsibility of looking after a child at home.
“Society today is structured where if you become a parent, almost everything is against you. If you want to take leave from work and come back, it’s often difficult,” he said.
As women in particular are constantly warned, parents leaving the workplace to raise a child at home, even temporarily, often puts them ‘behind’ others who continue to work, as they’re not able to progress their career or continue to enhance their professional skills.
As he saw his own wife experience this, Adragna saw an opportunity to help stay-at-home mothers continue to practice their professional skills, by offering them to other mothers.
By putting into practice their professional skills through Jugglr, Adragna explained that users will be better equipped to re-enter the workplace in the future if they choose, while the app also gives them an opportunity to begin developing their own business from home.
Either way, he believes exchanging services through the app helps develop a support network for mothers that is more accessible than the traditional meetup group networks.
The app works by having the identity of a new user verified by at least one existing Jugglr user. After this, a social media scan is undertaken for further verification.
Once on the app, a mother is able to see a list of other users nearby through a map or list view. From here, the user is able to select another and view their profile, revealing what service they’re looking for and what work they have to offer.
“You can then chat with that person to organise stuff. For example, I’d like to exchange personal training for music lessons,” explained Adragna.
Exchanges aren’t always service-for-service based, however, as mothers are able to offer their skills to other users for money. In this case, Jugglr will take a percentage as a fee.
The app provides a marketplace with search categories that allows users to find a mum offering a particular skill, which, according to Adragna, can involve almost anything.
Personal training, teaching a language, psychiatry sessions and catering food were just a few of the services named as examples, with Adragna explaining, “The fact that a user can access a specific service is what keeps them coming back.”
He said, “It’s not just simple favours you can offer, but really detailed skills. The more services there are, the more reason for mums to come back.”
The user who creates a job ad is able to specify the price they’re looking for, with this able to be negotiated through the app’s messaging system. If a job is selected the user is directed to the ‘to-do list’ section, which allows them to track and organise any service they’ve offered or selected.
Here a user can pay, rate other users, look at data, organise a place to meet, and keep track of what skills you’re offering or need.
To help bolster the reliability of the network, if a user receives a substantially low score after a service is completed, the Jugglr team will investigate the report to see why it happened by contacting either user. Like all connection platforms, the app also allows its user to flag, block, or report another user.
The idea of Jugglr helping women on the road to starting their own business is an interesting one; as the rise of the term ‘mumpreneur’ has shown, it’s becoming a popular concept.
Despite being all about women and aimed at women, there are no women in the app’s founding team. However, discussing how the features, content, and design of the app were formulated, Adragna said the wives of all the cofounders were fundamental in the development process.
“We wouldn’t be able to achieve or shape anything in Jugglr without our respective wives,” he said.
While this feedback may have been key, however, one could surely be forgiven for thinking it doesn’t quite equate to having a women as part of the startup’s core team.
Launched mid-2016, Adragna said there are around 3,000 users on Jugglr. As it looks to grow this number, Jugglr has been invited by Austrade to participate in a pitching event at SXSW festival in Austin in March.
Image: Elio Adragna. Source: Supplied.