You know how the saying goes: “Necessity is the mother of invention” and we love to share stories of dreams spun into reality by inventive mothers here at Cork Kids and Moms! Some of the best family products, services and ideas come from moms and dads who identify a parenting problem and set out to solve it, often becoming accidental entrepreneurs along the way!
When I first heard about the Eat Play Change App, I thought it was genius- and I also thought based it’s lovely design, functionality and great branding that it must have been launched by a large tech company with a great marketing team. I was very happy to be way off the mark! This amazing app is actually a homegrown invention by a Cork mum Úna Maguire.
Úna is a Corkonian mum of 2 who lives and works full-time in Dublin. In late 2018 she launched her digital bábóg, the Eat Play Change App. This Free App on iOS and Android helps parents, grandparents, childminders and anyone looking after children to share and find family-friendly places to eat, play, change or all 3, nearby, at a destination or en route from A to B. It is based on actual user ratings and experiences.
I wanted to find out more about the app, the process of developing it and the woman behind it- we are delighted to share Únas story.
Úna, what inspired you to create Eat Play Change?
Part of the inspiration came following a particularly frazzled nappy explosion when Senior was just a few weeks old. I was in an unfamiliar town, wrestling with that familiar mustard-coloured “stuff”. As a nervous new mum, I didn’t know where to find a changing table, never mind the rest. We muddled through, of course, albeit with a minor dent to the confidence.
This was followed by a few more hairy outings, where the changing facilities or high-chairs were less than user-friendly. Even when two parents were on duty, we found it could be tricky to get the timing right for feeds, pit-stops and nappy changes if we were somewhere new, let alone planning a journey for a “holiday”. Many of us have learnt the hard way what it takes to get out-and-about; anything that can help really is precisely that – a help!
So, during one drowsy night-feed, it occurred to me that a handy App could pull all of this stuff together. The arrival of Junior delayed things somewhat, but I eventually got myself in gear during that maternity leave.
With 2 tots in tow, the third element, “play”, came into play! Siblings rarely need the same thing at the same time – part of their charm… . A place where Senior can stretch his or her legs while Junior fills or empties his or her boots can be a little slice of heaven; even better with a little slice of cake!
I designed the App in such a way that you can scroll between the different needs – Eat, Play and Change or all 3 – at the top of the results page. It is also essential that you can use it with one hand!! You might need a place where you are, using the Near Me function, or be going to a specific town, which requires the Near Destination function.
We were travelling a lot to Cork or Donegal and I found things would go so much more smoothly if we new where we were headed for out pit-stops – hence the En Route functionality.
One of my new parent lifelines was the group of local mums I met when Senior was just 12 days old – my “booby group”, as I call them! There are 8 of us and we share the hilarity and challenges of motherhood – I would be lost without their friendship, fun and wisdom. Having welcoming places to go to with tiny tots was so important in forming this group of friends.
Úna, please tell us about yourself
I’m a Mum of 2, originally from Cork City. I’m a proud Corkonian, living in Dublin – in fact, my middle name is Benvan, which translates as Bean Mhumhan or woman of Munster! I am an accountant and tax adviser by training and work full-time in professional services. Our two boys are the centre of my world – free time at the weekends is spent with them swimming, reading, exploring and hanging out with family and friends. It’s so lovely to be in touch with Cork Kids & Moms – would you believe my Mum and pals set up a group called Kids & Kin in Cork in the early ’80s as we had moved to Cork just before I was born? It was all about meeting with other parents and children and sharing the joyous rollercoaster so it’s lovely to know these vital connections are being made through Cork Kids & Moms in a modern age now.
There is a great buzz around your launch! Please tell us why we need this app
Whatever age our kid or kids are, any outing is going to be made better by knowing that your pits-tops or destinations for food, playing, changing a nappy or a bathroom break, or all, have the facilities that you need. It can be tricky to get timing right with little people and needs differ as they get older and siblings come along. You may be in an unfamiliar town with a “hull breach” nappy, meeting a new pal in a new town or planning a road-trip with kids – knowing that their food, nappy/toilet needs and leg-stretching requirements will be met can make for a much happier day all round! As it is based on user input and reviews, you know it is tried, tested and honestly reviewed by parents, grandparents, childminders and others looking after little people just like you.
Sharing has taken off through social media in modern life and parenting and I really believe that by registering or reviewing locations in the App we can all help a new parent, grandparent or anyone minding kinds by telling them about family-friendly places. The App also supports businesses that are going that extra step to have family-friendly facilities.
What has been the high point of your journey as an entrepreneurial journey so far?
There have been lots of mini highs and lows, and more to come, no doubt! There have been two highs that stand out. The first was seeing the App logo on the App Store and Play Store as part of the approval process – I thought to myself “this might actually happen!” The second was getting shout-outs and supports from amazing Mums and groups on Instagram – the support has been incredible and made me think “maybe others agree that this idea has legs!”
What has been the biggest challenge as an entrepreneur so far?
That’s easy to answer – the 2 Ts!! Time and Technology. The boys are the fulcrum of my life and I work full-time in a role that I love so it was all squeezed into late evenings, especially at the weekends, and stealing a few minutes on the early morning train. I would send my developer emails at 6.30 a.m. and he would be sending replies at 2.30 a.m. It reminds me of when I was working and studying for my accounting and tax exams. Now it is a hobby that I adore and feel very passionate about – others do triathlons or bake – I have Eat Play Change!
The second challenge is technology – I am not a natural techie so it can be hard not to get lost or led a merry dance. Luckily, I have been extremely fortunate with the providers I use. Technology is expensive too, so that’s a challenge.
What was the best piece of advice you received when you were starting out your venture?
I remember so clearly my Dad saying to me: “Úna, just do it!” The simple, clear advice drove me on – I knew I would regret it if I didn’t give it a whirl! My Mum and Sister have also been instrumental in terms of keeping me motivated and researching and adding tonnes of places. I wouldn’t be doing it without the support of this trio and, of course, “Beloved”.
What advice would you give to other women looking to follow their dream?
Don’t avoid doing it because of fear of failure. If you crash and burn, at least you gave it a go and have a good story to tell. Work out what the loss might be – time, money, sacrifice – and if you can live with that then give it socks and don’t question your decision to go for it!
What’s the future for Eat Play Change?
There is a huge amount I want to do on the technology behind the App. I want to enhance the core functions and the ease of adding places, as well as bringing in other features that users might find supportive. It’s the age-old struggle of time and resources but I’m excited about it. I suppose the short-term next steps are to encourage people to share locations and support each other through the App – users have been extremely generous so far so I’m very hopeful.
You can now download the free app on iOS and Android. For more information about the Eat Play Change App, please visit www.eatplaychange.com