MyWhanau is the world’s best family calendar assistant app. The idea for the technology sparked when founder, Michelle Forster‘s struggled juggling her corporate role with three busy children, and feeling overwhelmed with the hours she had to devote to organising the family activities. Day after day, she’d exhaust herself having to organise everything, including her children’s sport, special days at school, permission slips, excursions, play dates…and the list goes on.
Working 50-60 hours per week in the corporate world, Michelle would find herself spending at least 30 minutes each morning organising the family activities before leaving for the office. But, eventually, the juggling was getting too much for her. “I was really struggling. The time spent sorting out the kids with all the forms and scheduling just added to the hours I was already working and I found it very stressful. Something had to change and that’s when I decided to do something about
it. I thought, if I’m struggling, I’m sure other parents are struggling too,” Michelle says.
“Then, I saw an app called “Tripit” where you can organise all your travel plans. I also noticed Apple was starting to translate dates and put them into your calendar. So, I thought, ‘Why can’t we do this for family schedules and really automate the process?’ So it was that way of thinking that really got me started.”
Michelle, a New Zealander living in Sydney, created “myWhānau” (based on the Maori word for extended family) as the ultimate family backup.
MyWhānau is the first calendar assistant app that ‘automates’ your family calendar; taking on the role of a virtual personal assistant for your family’s scheduling. It works by automatically adding your family’s events and tasks, saving time and frustration building your calendar. myWhānau automatically creates entries for school events, parent tasks and any activities outside of school, sourcing them directly from emails, portals and websites. Your calendar is 100 percent personalised
for you and your family.
Michelle was so inspired to make myWhānau a reality, she quit her job and launched the pilot in July, 2019, testing it on 21 families using the google calendar. “I was still using automations behind the scenes but the families were using Google calendar, which worked as a preliminary MVP. This was great, as it didn’t cost me anything but my time. It showed me what my customers were needing, what they liked and what they didn’t like,” Michelle says.
“So, I had customers using it for a year and loving it, giving me great insights. Then I officially launched the app in October 2020, designed specifically for parents’ needs and dedicated to making their lives more stress-free.”
“My long-term mission to save parents ten hours a week that they spend on chores. Currently the app is being used across 26 schools in Australia and New Zealand but in two years, I hope to have 300 schools using myWhanau.” Initial challenges “One of the challenges was that for me, coming from corporate land, I had an expectation that this could be done quickly. When you’re building everything from ground up, including financial modelling and all departments, it does take time, so don’t think for a moment that it is going to be a
Michelle’s advice for startups:
“You must focus on delivering the best product for your customer. This means spending time patiently with your customers. Your product doesn’t have to have all the bells and whistles, but it has to have designed specifically for their needs. That’s why the 12 months I spent with customers was so valuable, because I’m still adding features, as I now know exactly what they need and want.
“Also, in the very beginning, get to Fishburners, because when you’re working on your own you really have no idea! But at Fishburners you have so much education and support, I couldn’t imagine how difficult it would be on my own as a solo founder.”
Learn more about MyWhanau here.