Every month we feature the work of one of our members, who range from business owners to artists to nonprofit leaders. This month we sat down with the wonderful Amy Atherton, founder and CEO of Packed life.
Tell us how the venture got started. What compelled you to create it?
I'm a mom of three, ages 2, 5, and 6 and all are enrolled in school. On a daily basis I'm bombarded with daily folders, weekly folders, invitations to Facebook groups, apps, robocalls, and more. I missed several important events because the invitations were crumpled in their backpacks. It is information overload for parents. There is too much information coming at you and it's too hard to keep up to date. On average there are 40 forms of communication from a teacher to a family from websites to apps to papers. So I created a software solution that aggregates all communication into one daily email per family. So each family gets one daily email with all of the information you need, from field trips to reports, to sign up links. It eliminates paper and paper waste and cuts back on all labor, printer, and ink costs, as well. It can save a school district $400K a year and $40K per school building a year, and those are conservative number.
Who are your customers and how do they find you? What lessons have you learned building a customer base?
The end goal is that our customers are school districts. We are starting out working with individual schools and PTA presidents have been great allies for us. They are good advocates for the school, the teachers, and the administration. Our software is free. If we can ease the load of labor and costs as well as help parents who are feeling information overload (and it's free) it's a win win. What I've learned is that it has to be individualized for the school, so we have to be flexible and listen to what they need.
[I've] overcome [fear by] doing something everyday that scar[es] me. Every single day. It's a muscle that I'm exercising and it's getting easier and easier.
Tell us about one of the biggest obstacles you have faced in your work and how you overcame it.
The biggest obstacle is just having the confidence to pitch to the big guys, and anyone and everyone possible. You need to know your stuff. Also, being one of the youngest in the room and one of the only females can create fear. How I've overcome that is doing something everyday that is scary to me. Every single day. It's a muscle that I'm exercising and it's getting easier and easier.
Where do you see the venture five years from now?
We see going global. We can be in private, public, and independent schools. It's a software system we are planning to patent, so hopefully it can disrupt the education communication industry and put more money back in the schools. That is uniform for all of the schools I have talked to- all of their budgets are getting cut, so anything that can save them money is a good thing.
What motivates you?
The fact that I am the only woman in a lot of these meetings, especially in tech, motivates me to push through and be very successful. I also have two daughters and I want it to be a different environment when they're adults. Also, when I was in 7th grade my teacher told me I wasn't good in science, so I want to prove him wrong!
What do you love about Tacoma?
So many things! I was born and raised here. I've lived all over the world (I was a teacher for 10 years in Thailand, China, and Korea and in private and public schools. I went to university in San Diego) and I have come back. I love that a lot of famous companies have started here, whether it is The Mars Chocolate company, Baskin-Robbins, etc. There's an entrepreneurial spirit in Tacoma and I love that. I love the history and architecture. There are a lot of people really excited in Tacoma and investing in it. Ever since UW Tacoma came, it's been a really exiting time. I love the mountains, the water, beaches, islands, ferry everything is accessible but you don't have to fight the traffic.
There's an entrepreneurial spirit in Tacoma and I love that.
What made you choose Union Club? What has your experience been like and who would you recommend it for?
I think it's a beautiful building. I've always loved it. I love the location. I love that you can walk to a ton of restaurants, and with the link nearby it's all accessible. Gorgeous views. And like everything else in Tacoma it's very cool now but has huge potential and I wanted to be a part of that. I'd recommend it for anybody who wants workspace! Who works from home and wants to be a part of something bigger in Tacoma. Someone who is trying to get involved in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tacoma, regardless of their industry.
Where can people go to support your business or buy your product?
Check us out at: www.packagedlife.com. If anyone is connected to a school (pre-K through college) we'd love to give you a free demo and show you ways you can have the school communication more efficient while saving you money. You can email me at email@example.com.