Talking to Katie Massie-Taylor, Mush
A Life Well Lived
As part of our journey to redefine Wealth we are exploring what “A Life Well Lived” means: interviewing artists, entrepreneurs, explorers, and change-makers as they share their stories and ask “what is my life well lived?” Here we talk to Katie Massie-Taylor, co-founder of the social network app, Mush, about her business and what living well means to her.
After meeting in a London playground, Katie and her co-founder, Sarah, both realised that as mums to two young children, they had a very similar need. Their chance meeting, that had blossomed into a friendship, was something that all young mums needed and yet so often struggled to find. And so, in April of 2016, Mush was born.
“Mush was born from a very real need that me and my co-founder Sarah experienced when we had our second babies. We were floored with tiredness and those days with kids were endless and hard to fill. We were used to offices and people and chocka diaries, and suddenly we were ‘home people’ at the beck and call of tiny kids. It was really isolating (we since know that 90% of new mums feel lonely). Sarah approached me in a playground and we became great mates. A few months later we were getting all soppy about how the friendship had ‘saved us’, and we thought, “why isn’t there an easier way to make local mum friends?”. The idea of a friend-making app started to gain traction, and we quickly took it to investors to raise seed funding and get it off the ground.”
A free app that connects mums with others in their local area, Mush has since become the #1 local social network for making “mum friends”.
On Launching the App
“Motherhood opened a brand new set of problems I was desperate to solve, and a renewed drive to do something that ‘counts’.”
“The fateful teatime chat with Sarah (whose background was in advertising) happened in April 2015, and the app launched in April 2016 (getting an app off the ground isn’t an overnight thing!). That period was an evolution, from ‘let’s see if people invest’, to handing in notice, to getting nannies and working full time. Mush now has hundreds of thousands of mums from the UK and Australia and we have been responsible for over 1.5m friendships, which we are extremely proud of.”
At the time both Katie and Sarah were juggling young children – and everything else that comes with raising a young family – when they decided to launch Mush. So what was that journey like?
“The journey from concept to launch was so exciting. We had ad hoc childcare which was always challenging, but we were basically trying to impress each other as new mates, and competing on what we could achieve over nap time or after the kids had gone to bed. We were the queens of list making and document sharing, iterating on proposals to get investment, jumping in cabs to get to investor meetings organised that morning, calling each and every contact that knew anything about apps or raising money. We hustled, we read books and we tried to get a base knowledge of every aspect we would need to know about. It was the most fast-paced and efficient progress either of us had ever made, but it never felt like work!”
On Being an Entrepreneur
“There are some things that will never feel 100% fun. Reconciling accounts, managing spreadsheets, reporting bugs. But on the whole, Mush has been my third baby. It’s part of the family. It’s not work.”
From the outside you might think that would allow you more freedom or flexibility. But is that really true?
“Running your own business means that for a long while, you are on call day and night. But (mostly) everything can wait a couple of hours, so yes, clocking off to work flexibly around other life stuff is less complicated when you are in charge of your own thing. We would love to see everyone able to work as flexibly as founders can.”
“I joke that Mush is my third baby. At the start, Mush and my kids were entirely the same thing- attention went to the baby who was the most in need at the time. The minute we formalised our working hours and hired nannies to look after our real kids, it started to separate. It’s no different now to other working parents… A constant juggle!”
On Living a Good Life
“Feeling safe, getting out in the fresh air, working on something meaningful, spending time with my kids, drinking wine with my husband, haribo sweets.”
“Personal fulfillment for me – selfishly! – is usually at 7.30am on a riverside run listening to happy pop playlists.”
Wealth for Katie is “Being able to do everything you would like to do, at least once, even if it means sacrificing in the short-term.” And when it comes to retirement, Katie says that she pictures “The water. A river or sea view – better still – a boat travelling from place to place and seeing the world.”