SXSW Startups: Moms Can: Code

The Forrest Four-Cast: February 11, 2018

Fifty startups have been chosen for the 2018 SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event and will show off their skills on March 10 and 11. Winners in each of 10 categories will be honored at the Accelerator Award Ceremony at 7 pm Sunday, March 11, at the Hilton Austin, Salon AB. The SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event takes place within the Startup & Tech Sectors track of programming.

A finalist in the Social and Culture Technology category, Moms Can: Code is a membership-based community for moms learning how to code. It provides opportunities to connect, learning resources created by moms for moms, real-life inspiration and peer-based accountability coaching. Founder and CEO Erica Peterson (pictured above) took time from her home base in Pittsburgh, Penn., to talk about her new venture. See Moms Can: Code in action at 11 am Saturday, March 10, in the Hilton Austin, Salon AB.

You can also connect with Moms Can: Code and the other 50 finalists on Monday, March 12, at the SXSW Accelerator Demo Day, at the Hilton Austin, Salon C.

What has the startup experience taught you about life?
That anything can happen. Look at us: Moms Can: Code was just an idea less than a year ago. In under a year, we have connected with so many amazing women and now have the chance to pitch at the largest music and innovation festival in the U.S.

What inspired you to apply for SXSW Accelerator?
It really came down to one question: Why not? My husband and I were sitting on the couch one evening wrapping up some local applications in Pittsburgh when I stumbled across SXSW. I’m so honored to be one of the finalists.

Since you’ve never been to SXSW before, what is the most intriguing thing that you heard about the event?
What I’ve heard is that most startups develop relationships that ultimately lead to funding at SXSW. I read that 63% of companies that have participated at the SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event have received over $2.6 billion worth of funding since the start of this event many years ago. That’s amazing!

Has Moms Can: Code been involved with other pitch events before?
I was one of the winners of Pittsburgh’s Invest In Her pitch competition at the end of 2017. The most important lesson that I learned from that event is that you can never prepare enough for the types of questions that judges may ask. There is always going to be a zinger in there!

How long has the Moms Can: Code team been together?
Moms Can: Code is an extremely young company. We went from concept to launch in under two months and officially launched MomsCanCode.com in August 2017. Our longest standing contractor began with us in August as we prepared for the launch, but our current team has been working together since the end of November.

If you weren’t involved in building Moms Can: Code, what would you be doing?
In 2016, I started Science Tots, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that connects families with the tools to power early STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) learning. I’m President of the Board of Directors and still very much involved. If I wasn’t involved in building Moms Can: Code, I would be organizing Science Tots events around the country and teaching high school biology.

For what you do on a day-to-day basis at Moms Can: Code, what does work-life balance look like?
I’m fortunate that I can afford childcare for my youngest who is a toddler. While he is at daycare, I try to get as much work as possible done. It’s not easy! We have members all over the U.S. and around the world so the work doesn’t always end at 5 pm. In the evenings, my focus is on my sons. Around bedtime, second shift begins. When you’re an online startup, the conversations keep going at all hours and on the weekends. The nice thing is that it doesn’t feel like work because I am doing something I genuinely love. I very much enjoy connecting with the other moms! In fact, I’ve made it my goal to personally connect with each and every single mom who is a member while we’re still small. It’s important to me to learn what their needs are and how Moms Can: Code has impacted their lives.

What inspires you to work harder?
The badass moms in our community inspire me to work harder every single day. I am so proud of what they’ve accomplished. My sons also inspire me to work harder. My oldest son, who is 5, tells everyone about Moms Can: Code. He is our biggest supporter!

Look for interviews with other SXSW Accelerator finalists in this space between now and March. Startups already profiled as part of this series include 70MillionJobs, ARwall, Bluefield, Cambridge Cancer Genomics, Commutifi, DashTag, FanFood, Goalsetter, HealthTensor, Instreamatic, Leaf, Pawame, PolyPort, Sceenic, Switchboard, UPGRADED, and USHR.

Or, click here to browse the full lineup of startups for SXSW Accelerator 2018.

Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.