Sid Singh, 36, recently joked with a friend who everyone he knew seemed to be having their third baby as he brought something completely different to the world. He had just quit his job as a consultant to found a financial coaching company. He realized he might have a baby shower for his new business.
“It’s a big change for someone in their 30s to quit their job and start their life over again,” said Mr. Singh, who lives in Brooklyn. “It’s probably one of the most important things you can do.”
In November, long before he had investors, a PR budget, or a flow of clients for the company he called Ready.Steady.Money, Mr. Singh gathered about 30 friends at a downtown Italian restaurant. air in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. Over a pizza and a beer, he explained his vision and asked for help. The event went so well that it hosted yet another rooftop shower in Williamsburg in April, complete with gold dollar balloons and plenty of toast on rosé bottles.
“Some of my friends would say to me, ‘Send me your deck’ or ‘I know some people who would be great for this,’ he said. “I also had about 15 friends who signed up for the program.”
All over the United States, especially in New York, entrepreneurs are appropriating the baby shower, an event hitherto reserved for future parents, most often for mothers. The idea is that if starting a business is just as comprehensive (and expensive!) As having a baby, why not incorporate the same kind of community support?
Some business showers include games, decorations, and catering. Some founders even ask for freebies, providing links to business registry websites that have also become popular. Company parties are generally different from launch parties because they occur in the very early stages of a start-up, sometimes when the business is still just an idea in the making.
“I would say the beauty of a corporate shower is that it’s kind of a new concept, and that’s kind of what you want to do with it,” said Dulma Altan, founder of Makelane, a class of master for the founding women. He offers a free virtual kit called Startup Stork to help people plan professional showers. Over 1,300 were downloaded in 2021.
Some guests don’t like the idea of these “business showers”. But investors seem to be doing it. Having the means to organize a party is a promising sign.
“Investors appreciate someone who has made the effort to be disjointed and do whatever it takes to start your business,” Ms. Altan said. “It shows that you are resourceful. It shows that you can rally people around your brand.
“I hope,” Singh said, “it shows that I have a sense of humor and can think a little more creatively around traditional entrepreneurial ideas.”
Founders, in particular, are drawn to the idea of a corporate party because it helps them formally celebrate something that is not a life cycle event.
“We no longer live in a world where the most important steps, especially for a woman, are to get married and have a baby,” Ms. Altan said. “We’re late to have the conversation about how we celebrate women.”
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Indeed, 36-year-old Caitlin Kelly, who lives in New York City, was starting her new business, Vivid + Co, a company that uses technology to help businesses interact with the media more effectively, when she discovered that she was pregnant.
“I remember when I started telling people I was pregnant I had never been praised like this for anything in my life,” she said. “I know people came from a place of love and excitement, but for me, starting the business was that for me.”
Not wanting her to give up celebrating one growing business for another, her mentor suggested that she combine a baby shower with a party for her business. Mrs. Kelly had the invitations read: “It’s just business, babe.”
The event took place on a Saturday in May. A small group of family and friends were invited to the first half of the festivities, which looked like a more traditional baby shower with opening giveaways and a contest to guess when the baby would arrive. The biggest party took place in the evening and included customers, investors and employees. Caterers circulated mini steak fries and avocado toast, while a bartender served cocktails and wine. Ms. Kelly delivered a speech on the company.
“I don’t want anyone in my business to feel like my baby is a separate part of my life that I don’t want to share with them,” Ms. Kelly said. “People understand that life is complex. Everyone has a lot to do.
For other founders, taking a professional shower is a well-deserved opportunity to ask for gifts.
Thkisha Sanogo, 41, remembers how helpful it was to receive gifts before the birth of her three children, now aged 9, 11 and 13. “You have so many decisions to make and things to buy, it’s overwhelming. , “she said.” But if you know your family and friends are there to support you, that makes it easier. “
So in 2019, when she launched MyTAASK, an office management software company, she hosted an all-out baby shower in a co-working space. There was homemade okra, games including “Guess My Company Slogan” and an honor maven who helped decorate the room in company colors.
There was also a list of gifts.
Using the Business Gift Registry, a website launched in 2019, Ms. Sanogo, who lives in New York City, signed up for the items she needed for her start-up. She received subscriptions for Calendly, event planning software, and gift cards for Staples. Others have paid registration fees to conferences she hopes to attend, such as the Atlanta Black Tech Week, or have contributed to the cost of airline tickets for meetings. “I received about $ 10,000 in gifts,” she said.
She also received $ 5,000 in cash donations. “I got another $ 5,000 by going back to the investors and saying, ‘I’ve been able to raise this amount of money already. “Do you mind supporting us?”
The corporate gift registry grew 25% in the second quarter of the year, said Zuley Clarke, its founder, also based in New York. “It’s hard for the founders to ask people for help, but I see more and more people willing to do it,” she said.
The founders who made this leap encountered some opposition.
“Some people didn’t understand why I had a registry for my business,” Ms. Sanogo said. “Some people saw it as a gift. They thought I had to be tough and take the burden on myself.
“To these people, I said, ‘I would appreciate it if you were open-minded,’” she said. “But I will say that I received a much warmer reception than a negative reception.”
Mr. Singh received confused responses. “Some people thought I was having a baby shower for someone,” he said. “Others thought I had a baby with someone.”
He laughed at it, but he explained to his friends why he was doing it. “People have to understand that I am dedicating my whole life to this,” he said. “I’m taking the greatest risk possible. “