From a university assignment in 2018 sprang the kernel of Loviisa’s brilliant business idea that’s now meeting the needs of a growing number of international families based in the Netherlands.
The project was to develop an idea for a new company and part of it involved conducting a survey into parents of young children who she’d identified as her target audience. Their response was the first sign that she’d hit on something big.
“All of them loved the idea of a babysitting platform for international families that would help their kids connect with their country of origin,” Loviisa says. “They asked ‘is it up and running now?’ ‘can I book someone today?’”
By the end of the ten-week assignment, when she pitched the idea to investors, they were stunned to discover that there were no direct competitors. Her project quickly became a very real business.
Covid and a company depression
Fast-forward five years and the company is thriving.
While there are many online babysitting agencies, none have the USP of her business, Näpp, which matches international families in the Netherlands with babysitters from the family’s home country. That way, the children connect with their original language and culture through play with their ‘näppsitter’.
Despite the idea being one-of-a-kind and in demand, when Covid hit in 2020 no one was hiring childcare and Loviisa experienced her ‘Sofia Moment’. Confused and unsure of what to do next, she was experiencing the very same feelings that all female entrepreneurs have at some point on their growth journey and which is aptly depicted in The Founder’s Story, written by Julie Perkins of Wyseminds whose character Sofia becomes truly stuck. Loviisa’s first encounter with Julie came through a mutual acquaintance not long after the pandemic was over and Näpp was “in a depression”.
The reassuring story of Sofia
She had several sessions with Wyseminds which identified aspects of her business that were out of balance. Together she and Julie developed a plan that would lift her and her business out of the doldrums.
When she read about Sofia, Loviisa immediately recognised herself. The story charts the early growth of Sofia’s company Dragon Backpacks, describing the pitfalls that occur as the business grows.
“We created Sofia as a way to connect with female founders on a more human level,” says Julie. “While most business courses teach the theory of running a company, there’s not much practical information of how you get through the stage when your business feels like it’s draining you. Usually, all that’s needed are a few tweaks here and there, and a nudge back onto the right track.”
Strength in connection
The part of the story when Sofia loses her sense of purpose and direction resonated most with Loviisa.
“I was overwhelmed and stuck and had no idea of how to achieve my ambition. I didn’t know what I was doing anymore but didn’t want to give up.”
Julie explained that this was a widespread phenomenon, especially for women, which Loviisa found reassuring. Becoming aware of the same blocks and obstacles that all female founders face made her feel less isolated and alone.
“I felt a connection with others who’d gone through it. Everything made sense – why I was where I was; why I was doing what I was doing.”
She also read another Wyseminds book, The Wyseway, which is packed with useful tips and methods for getting a business back on the right path. With a renewed sense of motivation, Loviisa re-found her purpose and values which meant Näpp could now become a fully purpose-led business.
Loviisa’s overarching purpose for her organisation is “To enable happy, confident children who feel connected no matter where they live”. With Wyseminds’ help she developed a series of bold goals and objectives (OKRs) to achieve them. The objectives were to:
1- Build a high-quality digital platform
2- Build a network of certified ‘näppsitters’
3- Work with more B2B customers
4- Expand internationally.
Let’s use the second goal as an example of what purpose-led looks like. The vision for this goal is to have qualified babysitters to empower children to form strong cultural connections through play which can be achieved through these sub-goals:
- Holding events and interviews with potential näppsitters.
- Ensuring the new platform captures specific information through online forms they complete. This will populate their profile to reflect the values of certification, cultural connection and play.
“Breaking it down goal by goal makes the overarching purpose – the bit I call ‘the fluff’ – feel achievable. It’s like putting purpose to work to find a practical route to the end goal.”
‘It was in me all along’
While Loviisa is an entrepreneur, she also has other roles – mother, wife, friend – which she sees as combined. She’s developing her company so that whatever role she plays, her business will not crumble.
“I’m working on separating myself from the company through delegation. I’ve just taken on a co-founder and the development team are working on the platform creation.”
“Everything I need to make my business a success has been in me all along. I just had to get rid of my unhelpful beliefs which Julie and Wyseminds helped me do. There are so many women who need this. Julie believes in me and I wish everyone could find her.”
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