Female Founder Stories: Michelle Crosby, Founder of Wevorce (YC W13)

by Y Combinator2/8/2015

Wevorce is a high-tech and high-touch approach to divorce that keeps families out of court. We’ve built a national divorce company that uses online and offline services to streamline the divorce process so it is more affordable, faster and more amicable for families.

Our marketplace connects divorcing families with Wevorce-certified mediators who are experts in family law, co-parenting and financial aspects of divorce.

Q: Why did you start Wevorce?
Before starting Wevorce I was an attorney, more interested in amicable divorce and positive outcomes.

I knew I had to make a difference for families. At 9 years old I knew divorce was broken when one of my parents’ divorce lawyers asked me, “If you were stranded on a desert island, which parent would you chose to live with?” That moment became the catalyst for me going to law school, building a career as a lawyer, and ultimately launching Wevorce so we could change divorce for good and make sure that no other child was put in the same position that I was.

Q: How did you meet your cofounder?
Jeff and I were introduced by a mutual friend. I told him over coffee that my vision was to turn every divorce into an amicable divorce. He announced, “This is going to change the world.” Jeff was a child of divorce as well and passionate about creating a better way. He met with me every Friday for a year helping me grow my vision into a reality. After a year of helping me build Wevorce on the side, we decided that it was time to grow and Wevorce needed the synergy of both of us.

Q: Tell us about your experience at YC.
YC is a life changer. Having three months to focus on building your idea into a company with the support of the brightest minds in the world changes your life forever. The ups and downs of turning an idea into a reality are constant, but the connections created in YC shifts your mindset to doing the impossible time and time again.

Q: What was the atmosphere like at YC with Demo Day approaching?
I had spent my life dedicated to building Wevorce and Demo Day was the moment the world would hear about it. I wish you could bottle the energy of hundreds of founders all working to make the world a better place. The hopes and dreams powered with months of executing and building their companies create a euphoric atmosphere of “anything is possible.” There are few moments in life as exciting as Demo Day. Of course, when you reach this pinnacle you realize that it is just the beginning.

Q: Was being female either an advantage or disadvantage in working on your startup?
I found being a female founder was an advantage. Investors now pride themselves on the number of female founders they fund in their portfolios. The press is catching on as well and now support female founders more vigorously.

Q: You found out you were pregnant soon after Demo Day! What’s it like being CEO/founder with a baby?
Yes, this was a life changer and unexpected twist to life. Fortunately, I was able to draw on many of the strengths I had developed and lessons I had learned as an entrepreneur to write my own script around balancing the realities of motherhood and growing a business. I was used to sleepless nights, developing support teams, doing the impossible and keeping a sense of humor through it all. I wrote this blog post for Venture Beat that shares some more details about how I managed two startups at once (baby and Wevorce).

As it turns out the baby is the easiest part.

Q: What was the most surprising thing about doing a startup?
People warn you that startups are hard but, as the reality of executing your vision sinks in, you finally realize what everyone was talking about. Building a startup is really hard. The two keys to success that I have found are mindset and lifestyle. By mindset I mean you must develop an ability to balance the paradox of overwhelming confidence in your vision and absolute humility to learn from your mistakes– all while balancing the teeter totter of staying open to asking for advice and knowing what to take and what to create on your own.

Ironically, this means you must have a mindset that is flexible and unbudging at the same time. This is easier said than done. You must fail and be grateful for the learning instead of being crushed mentally by the setback. In order to maintain the mindset you must be dedicated to a lifestyle that allows you to not break under the pressure. To do this, you must know yourself and be committed to a lifestyle that keeps you balanced and thriving in spite of struggle and inhumane amounts of stress. You must know your strengths and weaknesses and be dedicated to improving yourself and therefore your life. It is human nature to overestimate what you can get done in the short term while underestimating what you can get done in the long term. You must learn to live in the future while executing daily towards your goals.

Trust me, all of this it is easier said than done, but the beauty of being an entrepreneur is you get lots of practice and each time you get back up you get stronger, smarter and faster. As Brian Chesky says, the secret to a successful startup is “don’t quit and don’t run out of money.”

Q: What do you wish someone had told you when you were 15?
Don’t worry, I’ve read the last chapter and everything turns out brilliantly.

Q: What was it like moving to Silicon Valley for YC and then moving back to Boise?
I have learned in life there are no right answers, just choices and consequences. Moving to Boise allowed us to cut our expenses in half. Silicon Valley is a crazy expensive place to build a business. We of course miss the startup community, but have managed to stay connected to the soul of Silicon Valley through regular video conferences with other founders, regular advisory board meetings in SF, and through our Bay Area Wevorce office.


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