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Allyson Downey

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Allyson Downey is the CEO and founder of weeSpring.

Downey is an entrepreneur, MBA, writer and parent who has built a career on the power of trusted advice. In 2013, she launched weeSpring, a Techstars-backed startup that helps new and expecting parents collect advice from their friends about what they need for their baby.

While on maternity leave, Downey scribbled notes and diagrams while out on long walks with a stroller through Central Park. She wanted to be able to find out what her friends relied on, without the constant emails and text messages — or burdening her non-parent friends with tons of baby-related posts on Facebook.

Downey and her husband spent countless nights hashin out how it would work, then sent a SurveyMonkey to their friends. They asked, “What three baby products do you recommend most often?” And then they gave them an extra boxy, in case they wanted to suggest more than three, and asked them to pass it on.

In less than a week, they had 500 responses — and half of them used the spillover box because they couldn’t stop at three recommendations. That’s when they started building weeSpring.

The site launched in December 2012, and in the first six months they already had over 10,000 product ratings.

Downey is also the author of the forthcoming book “Here’s the Plan: Your Practical, Tactical Guide to Advancing Your Career During Pregnancy and Parenthood,” the pregnancy and parenting guide to your professional life. She’s written for publications like The Wall Street Journal and Inc. magazine about the intersection of entrepreneurship and family, and she has appeared on ABC World News Now, Power Pitch on CNBC and other outlets.

Sources: Allyson Downey’s portfolio, Time magazine, Women 2.0

Companies and Investments

weeSpring (CEO, co-founder)

Lessons Learned

1) Aim for two coffee meetings a week with people who could help advance your career, now or in the future. (LinkedIn is a great way to identify connections to people you want to meet and also identify who in a particular company you should connect with.) When I’m reaching out to someone new, I always get specific about why I’d like to meet, and I frame it in terms of what’s in it for them. Phrases like, “Can I pick your brain?” are off-putting to busy people. Instead, think about what you can offer them, and try something like, “I’d love to hear about your experiences with ABC and also understand more about how I could help you with XYZ.”

2) Women tend to spend a lot of time worrying about what they haven’t done, rather than celebrating what they’ve actually accomplished (which is often more than they think). Reflect on your successes, and keep track of the specifics related to them—then make them your talking points when you’re pitching your boss on a promotion or raise.

Inspiring Quotes

I couldn’t lean in. If I wasn’t leaning over a trash can, it was a great day.

Maria Seidman, CEO and cofounder of Yapp

Allyson Downey's Quotes

When you hear someone blithely say, “I was in the right place at the right time,” what they really mean is, “I knew the right people.” It’s not about luck: It takes diligence, organization and assertiveness.

Allyson Downey

Influential Books

Allyson Downey - Here's the Plan.: Your Practical, Tactical Guide to Advancing Your Career During Pregnancy and Parenthood