It was December 2018 — there were 7.6 million unfilled jobs and only 6 million people looking for work, yet moms were still struggling to find work. Mary Kay Ziniewicz, who had been sitting on an idea to solve this problem for years, looked at her daughter and said, “I have to do Bus Stop Mamas.”
In just a few hours, her 12-year-old daughter built her a website and Bus Stop Mamas was alive and kicking, and the marketplace for businesses to meet off-the-market talent was born.
How it all started
The idea for Bus Stop Mamas came from a time when Ziniewicz and her partner decided to make a necessary shift—her partner, who was the stay-at-home parent for their daughter, needed a change. He, like many parents who stay at home, wanted to contribute to the household income, be around adults, and to exercise other talents.
So Ziniewicz moved her business at the time in-house, and her partner returned to his career. It was at this time she got to stand at the bus stop with her 10 year old daughter, along with the other moms and kids in the neighborhood.
“I thought, ‘businesses need this talent, and these moms want to work’” Ziniewicz said. She recognized the obstacles preventing moms from returning to their career—their kids’ flexing schedules, the automated tracking systems on job sites that can’t see talent, and the 9 to 5 work culture— so she designed a new labor force platform that blends business with moms’ schedules.
Prior to the pandemic, 43 percent of women in the U.S. exited their career after their first child was born, she explained. In September of 2020 alone, over 865,000 women left the workforce to take care of their kids. In total in 2020, the U.S. saw 2.1 million women leave work to care for their family.
“We have real clear data about who cares for the family,” she said. “Moms are all different — different values, different kids, different support systems, different parenting styles — but there is a common thread that binds us. We all want the very best for our children.”
How moms get there is different for everyone, but the Bus Stop Mamas model is designed for every mom to achieve balance in a way that works for her. The model is designed for business success too, as businesses gain access to off-the-market talent quickly and affordably.
“[We’re] challenging the perceptions of who ‘Mama is’ and what she is capable of—’Mom’ has enormous value to business, family and community,” Ziniewicz said. “Bus Stop Mamas is a movement and a business.”
Told they couldn’t be both, she came back with her startup’s mission to make every mom know she is valued and truly the most vital part of the economy. “The truth is, without mom, there is no supply chain—no Mamas, no people!”
How it works
First, businesses post jobs on the Bus Stop Mamas website platform, knowing they will be reaching a primarily-female population who seek flexible work arrangements: Most of the parents in the network have gaps in their resume, and seek temporary, part-time, or full-time work. The job posts go out once a week to a network of about 5,000 parents.
Using a tech platform, Bus Stop Mamas puts job-seeking moms in direct contact with businesses looking to hire. Eliminating the AI feature, the platform includes an “introduce me” button that instantly introduces her to the decision maker.
“We put mama in the driver seat, Ziniewicz said. “She is selecting positions that meet her skill set, fit her interests, and that meet her schedule.”
She explained that the process is designed to remove all barriers between candidate and business. There are no black holes and businesses gain instant access to off the market talent that they need. Currently, when a business hires a Mama, that’s when Bus Stop Mamas gets paid, but the company is moving to a subscription model on May 1, 2021.
“Until now, Women were offered two options: Plan A, stay home with the kids and Plan B, go to work and pay someone to watch the kids. Bus Stop Mamas offers Plan C: Moms way,” she said.
Benefits of BETA
As part of the Fall 2019 BETA Cohort, Bus Stop Mamas won the Fall Showcase. “It was an amazing experience for us,” she said.
The booth was full of moms in the network holding “Mama” picket signs, sharing their personal experiences with BETA Showcase guests.
“As a result of BETA Showcase, we received a lot of media attention that served us well, and propelled us to a new level in startup development,” Ziniewicz said.
While going through the BETA Cohort provided her startup with solid resources and business information, her favorite part is continuing to connect with the community.
“The absolute best part of being a BETA alum is that I continue to build relationships with awesome people in the BETA community who care,” she said.
Showcase is a science fair for startups, where tech enthusiasts, reporters, investors, and the general public meet with founders from a dozen of the top emerging companies. The Spring 2021 BETA Showcase takes place on April 15, 2021 from 3-5pm on Hopin.
Bus Stop Mamas
BETA is a 501(c)(3) organization that develops Minnesota’s next generation of business leaders by inspiring and educating first-time founders. The BETA Group nurtures startups and small businesses with great scalability potential, so they can grow to become our next Fortune 100s. Learn more.