Sid Singh, 36, recently joked with a friend that everyone he knew apparently had their third baby while giving birth to something very different. He had just quit his consulting job to start a financial coaching company. It dawned on him that he might be throwing a baby shower for his new endeavor.
âIt’s a big change for someone in their thirties to quit their job and start their life over,â said Mr. Singh, who lives in Brooklyn. “It’s probably one of the most momentous things you can do.”
In November, well before he had investors, a public relations budget, or a stream of clients for the company he called Ready.Steady.Money, Mr. Singh gathered about 30 friends at an outdoor Italian restaurant in the area of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Over pizza and beer, he explained his vision and asked for support. The event went so well that he held another shower on a Williamsburg rooftop in April, with gold balloons in the shape of dollar signs and lots of toasts over rose bottles.
“Some of my friends would say, ‘Send me your deck’ or ‘I know people who would be great for it,'” he said. “I also had about 15 friends who signed up for the program.”
All over the United States, especially New York City, entrepreneurs are adopting the Baby Shower, an event previously reserved for parents-to-be, usually mothers. The idea is that if building a business is as big (and expensive!) As giving birth to a baby, why not build in the same kind of community support?
Some business showers include games, decorations, and catering. Some founders even ask for gifts and provide links to business registry websites that have also become popular. Business showers are generally different from launch parties because they happen in the very early stages of a start-up, sometimes when the company is still maturing as an idea.
âI would say the beauty of a business shower is that it’s a new concept, and that’s what you want it to be, so to speak,â said Dulma Altan, founder of Makelane, a master class for women founders. It offers a free virtual kit called Startup Stork that helps people plan business showers. Over 1,300 were downloaded in 2021.
Some invitees don’t like the idea of ââthese âbusiness showersâ. But investors seem to be doing it. Having the change to throw a party yourself is a promising sign.
“Investors value someone who went out of the way to be sloppy and go out of their way to start your business,” said Ms. Altan. âIt shows that you are resourceful. It shows that you can win people over to your brand. “
“Hopefully,” said Mr Singh, “it shows that I have a sense of humor and can think a little more creatively about traditional ideas of entrepreneurship.”
Women founders in particular are drawn to the idea of ââa business shower because it helps them formally celebrate something that is not a life cycle event.
“We no longer live in a world where the greatest milestones, especially for a woman, are getting married and having a baby,” said Ms. Altan. “We’re overdue to talk about how we celebrate women.”
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In fact, Caitlin Kelly, 36, who lives in New York City, started her new company, Vivid + Co, a company that uses technology to help companies interact with the media more effectively when she found out she was pregnant .
“I remember when I started telling people I was pregnant, I’ve never been so congratulated in my life,” she said. “I know people came from a place of love and excitement, but to me, starting the company was that to me.”
Not wanting her to celebrate one growing business for another, her mentor suggested combining a baby shower with a party for her business. Ms. Kelly ran the invitations: “It’s just business, baby.”
The event took place on a Saturday in May. A small group of family and friends were invited to the first half of the celebration, which resembled a more traditional baby shower with a gift opening and a contest to guess when the baby would arrive. In the evening the bigger party took place with customers, investors and employees. Caterers passed mini steak fries and avocado toasts around while a bartender served cocktails and wine. Mrs. Kelly gave a speech about the deal.
“I don’t want anyone in my company to feel like my baby is a separate part of my life that I don’t want to share with them,” said Ms. Kelly. âPeople understand that life is complex. Everyone has a lot to do. “
For other founders, a business party is a much-needed opportunity to solicit gifts.
Thkisha Sanogo, 41, recalls how helpful it was to have gifts before the birth of their three children, who are now 9, 11 and 13 years old. “You have to make so many decisions and buy things, it’s overwhelming,” she said. “But when you know your family and friends are there to support you, it makes it easier.”
When she founded MyTAASK, an office management software company, in 2019, she had an entire baby shower in a co-working space. There was homemade gumbo, games like âGuess my company’s sloganâ and a lady of honor who helped decorate the room in the company’s colors.
There was also a gift list.
Using Business Gift Registry, a website launched in 2019, Ms. Sanogo, who lives in New York City, registered items she needed for her start-up. She received subscriptions to Calendly, event planning software, and gift cards for Staples. Others paid registration fees for conferences she wanted to attend, such as Atlanta Black Tech Week, or contributed to the cost of airline tickets to meetings. “I got about $ 10,000 worth of gifts,” she said.
She also received $ 5,000 in cash gifts. âI leveraged another $ 5,000 by going back to investors and saying, ‘I’ve already been able to raise that amount of money. Do you mind supporting us? ‘”
The Business Gift Registry saw 25 percent growth in the second quarter of the year, said founder Zuley Clarke, who is also based in New York City. âIt’s hard for founders to ask people for help, but I see more and more people willing to do so,â she said.
Founders who took the plunge encountered some resistance.
“Some people didn’t understand why I had a registry for my business,” said Ms. Sanogo. âSome people saw it as a guide. They believed I should be tough and take the burden on myself. “
“I said to these people, ‘I would be happy if you were open-minded,'” she said. “But I will say that I was received much more warmly than negatively.”
Mr. Singh received some confused responses. “Some people thought I was hosting a baby shower for someone,” he said. “Others thought I was going to have a baby with someone.”
He laughed at it, but explained to his friends why he was doing this. “People have to understand that I basically put my whole life into it,” he said. “I’m taking the greatest risk I can.”