cafe mama

entering the mind of the married mom

Life, redefined - September 5, 2004

I'm "moving on" from my position at JanRain, and I have a lot of mixed feelings about this move. Mostly, it's a good thing - I am looking forward to the freedom to develop projects of my own choosing, at my own timeline. I am looking forward to the (at least for now) flexibility to go to gym class, and our cooperative play dates, and coffee shops. I am not looking forward to my financial concerns.

After years of being the primary breadwinner, I might take a secondary role for a time, which would be tough on my husband, and our credit rating - to date, I've demonstrated significantly more earning power than he has. Not to say he doesn't have it - one day I'm sure he'll find that perfect match where he vaults over me into some dynamic sales position - but he hasn't found it, yet. We'll have to sell our not-so-beloved anymore Mercedes (note to car buyers out there: the ML320 is just a terrific dud, our driver's side window mechanism just broke, today, for the FOURTH time), unless something amazing happens.

I'm restless, and eager to develop one - or many - of my mama-focused business ideas. So as of today, cafe mama is transitioning into the development of a tangible cafe mama, a place for mamas - and dads - to hang out, with kids, with coffee and "facilitators" and excellent food, and places for the kids - in their different age groups - to play.

I have some pretty well-developed ideas and I plan to start looking for investors/grants/cooperative members immediately. But first I have to decide which direction towards which I should head off half-cocked. Maybe you can help.

In this corner, we have "traditional" angel financing. If I go after angels, I'll be looking for one or two individuals to invest $30K to $50K in me and my business idea. They'll, of course, want a healthy return on their money. I think I can give it to them, but in all likelihood, they won't be my target market (most angels are older wealthy men).

In the other corner, we have the cooperative model. This could go a number of different ways, either by simple solicitation - I ask 30 or 40 friends, family, and complete strangers to invest a couple of thousand dollars each, more of a loan than an investment - or I go full cooperative, selling shares for maybe $100 each to 500 of my eventual customers. Under the full cooperative model, profits (even if they were quite small) would be distributed among the members, and everyone would be asked to volunteer their time as employees, facilitators or in other creative ways (carpentry, decor, accounting, lawyering, you name it).

Sometime this evening I'll develop a more detailed description of cafe mama / play cafe here, so you can think more deeply about what I should do. And either way I go, I plan to take liberal advantage of all the offers of help I have received from my wide group of mama friends and the dads, too. If you have ideas/offers/pointers/criticisms/heaps of praise, please heap them at cooperative @ cafemama.com.