Mommy Spotlight: Q&A with Allyson Downey of weeSpring

One of the things I get most excited about while working on Tyckled Tales is coming across innovative ways that parents today are helping one another. We’re seeing a wave of great parenting startups started by real parents who want to share their experiences and lessons learned to make it easier for others when planning for parenthood.

weeSpring is one of those great parenting startups that I came across late last year.

So what is weeSpring? Their website says it best!

“weeSpring is a platform that helps you share advice with your friends about baby essentials, like bottles, strollers, and diapers. You can compare products within a single category, like high chairs, or browse a trusted friend’s favorite.

Expecting parents use weeSpring to ask their friends about the things they couldn’t live without, and find out what they wish they’d never bought. New parents use weeSpring to pass along their own tried-and-true advice, while continuing to learn from their friends.”

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KEY TIP: Use weeSpring when you want one site focused on products with feedback from real parents to help simplify your purchasing decisions or an easy to share your product recommendations with your friends.

And in this week’s Mommy Spotlight, I spent some time with Allyson Downey, Cofounder of weeSpring, to talk more about the company.

 

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How did the idea for weeSpring come about?

My husband Jack and I met in 2004 on Eliot Spitzer’s campaign; we joke sometimes that we worked together so well we decided to get married. We’ve both always been idea people. We love thinking about problems and how to solve them, and being a new parent felt to us like the ultimate problem-solving opportunity.

I had this idea that pregnancy and parenthood would be radically simpler if you could crowd-source advice from your friends. I’d been getting these spreadsheets from people, listing their must-haves and don’t buys, and I’m definitely a culprit of the “what _____ should I buy” Facebook post. But it was still so overwhelming.

So Jack and I started doing what we used to do in politics: getting out and talking to everyone we could, asking their advice, and (gently) begging for their help. One of the first people we met with connected us with an incredibly talented engineer who was looking for a fun project.  We’ve heard since then that finding a technical co-founder is as likely as getting struck by lightning, so we feel very lucky. Then, one of the moms I had befriended when both of our babies were just a few weeks old introduced us to a designer who immediately grasped what we were trying to do.  A friend who had an amazing background in digital marketing joined the team after her twins were born. And in that moment, the team we are today was born.

Allyson-Downey-weeSpringWhen did you launch weeSpring?

We quietly went live with the site in December 2012, and our users have been rating like crazy… after just a few months, we have more than 20,000 product ratings.

Where did the name weeSpring come from?

People ask us all the time how we came up with the name weeSpring. When I was in business school, we covered “systematic creativity” in one of my classes, which sounded like an oxymoron to me. It’s basically the old go-to of brainstorming, but with more structure–and a LOT of the ad campaigns you know and love were developed using this method.

You start by coming up with a list of all the things you want people to associate with your brand. For us, it was babies, community, and advice.  Then you exhaustively list every word you’d associate with each one; you can start from a thesaurus, but you also want to include the more free-flowing ideas. We had hundreds of words, and they were all over the map.

Then, you start to hone in… Look for interesting or surprising combinations. We loved that wee was a homonym for both little and community. Spring came from offspring, but it also connoted beginnings — and the two together happened to be available as a domain name.

Why do you think there’s a need for weeSpring?

When you search strollers on Amazon.com, you get 24,431 results. Literally. Figuring out what you need when planning for parenthood shouldn’t be that hard.

Can you provide an example of how you can use weeSpring?

 

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So say you are looking up strollers. When you go into weeSpring’s stroller page, you can see them ranked in order of popularity — amongst your friends. This immediately solves the painful problems of you spending hours sorting through spreadsheets or having repetitive conversations with parents.

We accomplish this by having our users login through Facebook. That way, you will be able to see that 12 of your friends love the UppaBaby Vista and why.  For example, when you click on the product, you can read that your best friend from college and bunk mate from summer camp both think it handles really easily–and swear by the huge storage basket. Or your friend who just moved out to the suburbs says it’s pretty easy to fold up and put in a car.

UPPAbaby-VistaOr, if you don’t even know where to begin, you can just browse a trusted friend’s favorites. My friend Brooke had her first baby the year Jack and I got married, and she made it look so EASY. Sweet, adorable, happy baby, parents who still went on enviable vacations and cooked great meals.  I knew it couldn’t possibly be that simple–but I was ready to just replicate everything she had done.

And I did: we use the same diapers and baby food and bottles, bought the bassinet and travel crib they have, swear by the Happiest Baby on the Block (which Brooke introduced us to), plus a zillion other things too numerous to even remember. We got to the point where Brooke would send me am Amazon link, and I would just click “one-click purchase” without even really looking at what it was.

That’s the simplicity we were aiming for with weeSpring.

What has been user feedback been like since launching?

While we have never-ending lists of things we want to improve, it has been amazing to hear feedback from users who have felt like using WeeSpring has been an epiphany. One called it “Cliffs Notes for Babies.” Another said she would have saved thousands of dollars on useless products had she had weeSpring before she had her twins.

And we like to take the not-so-good with the good… so if something isn’t working as well as it should be (we’re in beta, and tons of stuff is still bumpy), please reach out! You can get us anytime at hello@weespring.com.

What are your top 3 products you like to recommend the most?

Baby-Essentials-weeSpring-Allyson-Downey

1) Infantino Sash Mei Tei 2) The Happiest Baby On The Block 3) Nosefrida.

And I leave you with the parenting quote of the week.

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