For a first-time mother, it is usually her own mother who becomes the primary source of motherhood advice. Other female relatives and friends who already have children are often second on the speed-dial. And while online communities and forums are a popular source for information, they can be unreliable.
Inspired by all this, SuperMama was born.
Launched last October, SuperMama is the first of its kind, a website and online parenting community targeting mothers and mothers-to-be around the Middle East. The bilingual Arabic and English site provides essential information on almost every aspect of mothers’ lives and childcare.
Two dynamic young ladies, Yasmine al-Mehairy and Zeinab Samir, are the masterminds behind SuperMama. In June, prior to the launch, they teamed up with Sherine al-Sammaa, the marketing director, aiming to complement each others' experience.
Samir and Mehairy had worked in web and media project management field for six and eight years, respectively. Sammaa has five years of experience in IT marketing solutions.
After early brainstorming sessions, the co-founders settled on the name “SuperMama,” which happened to be the first name they had thought of. “It first started as a joke, but eventually we realized 'SuperMama' implies what we are working on: bringing out the inner strength in mothers,” Mehairy says.
The idea for SuperMama stemmed from personal experience. “When my sister-in-law got pregnant, we realized how lucky she was because her entire family is doctors and she can easily read pregnancy books in English,” Mehairy explains.
However, this is not common in the Arab world. “Most Arab women cannot read English. And from here we discovered that there was a need for a trusted Arabic source verified by professionals for Arab women," Mehairy points out.
SuperMama acts as an information hub, offering content for all aspects of a mom’s busy life, including pregnancy, parenting, cooking, home maintenance, and the mother’s own personal lifestyle and interests. All content is created by specialists, such as physicians, nutritionists, behavioral psychologists, professional cooks and home management experts.
The unique aspect of the site is its localized content, which distinguishes it from foreign websites that often offer advice irrelevant to Arabs' normal lifestyles.
Sammaa explains through an example. “European mothers are advised to give their children Vitamin D for bone development. In the Arab region, however, Vitamin D is naturally formed in the body as a result of having stronger sunlight than in foreign countries.”
Before starting up the business venture, preparing the localized content was not easy.
“We had to carry out a lot of surveys and focus groups asking mothers about the most crucial topics that must be addressed and common problems they are facing,” says Sammaa.
SuperMama has succeeded in establishing a strong online presence by bringing mothers from all walks of life together for discussion.
Noha al-Guindy, the website’s community manager, describes their “online parenting community” as one of the keys to boosting the website’s readership. On a message board on the website, mothers share their experiences, concerns about their family lives, and reviews of nurseries and schools.
The site features two blogs written by mothers — one in Arabic and one in English. Guindy also authors an Arabic blog called “Um Koko” (Koko’s mother), on which she writes stories based on her daily life with her little girl and offers general advice on how to raise a child.
SuperMama is not limited to motherhood issues, also maintaining a section called “Daddy Darling,” which tackles parenthood from a father’s perspective.
However, SuperMama's entry into the Egyptian start-up scene was not without its obstacles. The three co-founders waded through a series of early challenges, which they say ultimately gave them more experience and a better business vision.
The team competed in five different competitions in 2011.
“We were the first prize winners of the e-nnovation competition in Poland, NexGen Startup Competition and Startup Demo at ArabNet Cairo,” Mehairy says, before proudly mentioning that they were semi-finalists at the MIT Arab Business Plan Competition.
Embarking on another ambitious journey, both Mehairy and Samir applied for the “StartupBootcamp” competition and won three-month internship training in Denmark, which turned out to be their career turning point.
“On a daily basis, we encountered expert entrepreneurs who taught us how to turn our small project into a viable business and gave us constructive feedback on our ideas,” Mehairy explains excitedly. “Eventually, we met over 80 mentors who empowered us with necessary knowledge for managing efficient internet startups and adopting an appropriate revenue model for our venture.”
Hitting more than 2,000 registered users and over 20,000 unique visits in the first month of the launch, SuperMama has already proven a success.
“Our aim is to become, in the near future, the first website for women in the Middle East and North Africa,” Mehairy says.