Erin (Morgan) McConaghy began teaching movement-based development classes for children 0-6 years old in Tribeca’ over 15 years ago, creating curriculum and leading staff training.
After receiving her AMS Montessori certification in 2009 Erin co-created a Montessori based pre-preschool program in downtown Manhattan, focusing on observation of little ones ages 16 months to 3 years old, studying common characteristics, developmental milestones, disciplinary tactics, and educational strategies.
Working with a fellow mom Marlene Veloso, Erin co-created CuratedCare.com, an online marketplace & app that connects families with local artists and teachers for souped-up babysitting, at-home enrichment & more. CuratedCare.Com makes life easier for families and inspiring for children while also offering creative opportunities for teachers, artists and childcare specialists.
Where did the idea for CuratedCare.com come from?
Years and years ago, my co-founder and I met because I was her daughter’s very first teacher. Organically, she came to me seeking a souped-up sitter, in her case a Montessori-trained sitter, to cover child care and infuse it with more enrichment. At the time I was also managing the entire enrichment staff of this children’s facility and was blown away by how every dance teacher, sports coach, or music instructor, was doing some sort of babysitting on the site and organically incorporating these skills. At the time there was no way for providers to market this extra awesome babysitting service specifically or for families to articulate this request, but there was clearly a two-sided marketplace naturally co-existing. We leveraged tech and marketplace mechanics to help these sides connect to the benefit of each other and to kiddos.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Like most founders, your brain is perpetually split into a dual focus of small picture tasks and big picture growth. To achieve this 50% of my day is ticky tacky daily tasks (meetings, emails, marketing initiatives, etc.) and the other 50% is spent thinking creatively on larger scale problem solving and new ideas. It keeps the wheels turning for me but also for the company in order to ensure scrappy creativity and that the ability to pivot is always available and timely.
How do you bring ideas to life?
While you always want to put your best effort out there (you never know when someone is stumbling upon your company for their first time and forming a first impression) never let perfect stand in the way of good. Sometimes you just need to plug away and get the work done. Don’t overthink, just start muscling through the task and the idea will form as you work. Plus timeliness is critical and coming in first with a pretty good idea, offering, service etc is better than coming in third with a more finessed, sleeker one.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The past year and half has been an overwhelming upheaval of life as we know it, but a benefit is that everything is fair game to rethink, rework and redo. Times of transition can be scary for your financial bottom line or your sanity, but it represents the opportunity for newness and growth.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Prioritizing my time. Knowing more confidently where to allocate my time and brain space and when to say no or turn down an opportunity is key. Early in business you try a million things and you should. Quickly identifying what works and what you do well, even if it flies in the face of what you had assumed, is so critical to finding the idea that sticks.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Admit when you don’t know something and ask a thousand questions. Being quick to say you don’t understand something and asking for more information is such an admirable trait in all humans. You’re only going to do this life once so you’d better actually grow versus pretending you’re grown 🙂
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
You should vacuum every day. Seriously. People are filthy.\
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Respond quickly to emails. I’m not saying you need to have an immediate answer or prioritize everyone’s requests as they come in, but a quick response to say “roger that and let me get back to you” let’s people know you are aware & reachable but also allows you time to get back to someone on your timeline so it’s thoughtful and not rushed.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Work every day and make money. Don’t just make ideas, don’t just talk out of your butt, do work every day and aim to make an actual business that grows.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I assumed some folks in the room knew the more correct choice because they had more experience in a particular area. I firmly believe in bringing in experts and listening to a wide array of opinions, but if you have a gut instinct about something that matters & it should be weighed heavily. It’s your vision and passion on the line.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A subscription service that picks up all of your old, unwanted goods and sources them to the appropriate charities and organizations to ensure those in need have resources and waste is reduced.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Drinks at Bemelman’s Bar. Cocktails + jazz + good company is like a mini vacation for your soul.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I’m a google everything fan. Gmail, calendar, docs, drawings, analytics.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Tools of the Titans. Tim Ferriss is so extra but it’s a fab compilation of snippets and tidbits from awesome visionaries.
What is your favorite quote?
I’m on it.
- Ask questions
- Roll your sleeves up and do the work
- Prioritize your time
- Be open and available to people
- Be open to change and be honest with yourself about your product and skillset
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.