Talia Goldstein was well on her way to realizing her dreams. A “passion project” as she calls it, “Three Day Rule” the online dating website was Talia doing what she was best at- playing cupid between single friends- professionally.
And it was all going as planned – the blueprint ready to hit the markets for funding and launching, when a slight detail threatened to take it all away. At least, that’s how she saw it. She got pregnant – which is also a dream for most women, but the corporate sector’s track record with pregnant women managed to make her see it as a liability.
Hence, in a tizzy, she took the painful decision of keeping her pregnancy from the world, in order to not let it affect her chances. “It’s the worst feeling in the world having to hide your pregnancy. It’s awful knowing that the second I reveal that I am pregnant, investors will suddenly second guess whether I am capable enough to run a company. So, I am going to hide my pregnancy as long as I can,” she writes, in this heartfelt monologue for Forbes.
She had partnered up with her husband for this pilot venture – and it looked destined for greatness. They were accepted into a tech incubator program, ‘The Founder Institute’, won pitch competitions all over town, and were even featured on ABC’s Shark Tank.
When the pregnancy was confirmed, her business partner and husband was ecstatic, but she couldn’t help seeing it as set of dominoes falling on her aspirations. “I haven’t shed one tear in three months. While I am happy about having a child, I feel ashamed for getting pregnant because my industry looks down on it.”
She decided to survey her contacts to get some perspective on the issue – without disclosing that she was pregnant herself. started asking my colleagues for their opinions on the subject. Their opinions of her friends only confirmed her worst fears. “It’s a huge red flag when the founder of a company is pregnant,” they told her. “Honestly, I’d never invest in a company with a pregnant CEO,” another one told her. “Everyone seemed to believe that the people from whom I would be raising money, angels and VCs, simply did not know how to handle a pregnant CEO, and would avoid one like the plague,” she writes.
As the pregnancy advanced, though, it got increasingly difficult to hide. While she could “choose to wear ponchos and baggy clothing” earlier, as soon as she started to show, she “began to dread every pitch.” By the fourth month, she had managed to disguise her pregnancy well enough to raise her second seed round. It was then that she decided to reveal her secret.
Recalling an incident where she ran into a business contact who discovered then that she was pregnant, she was curious to know why he reacted like “he’d been hit by a train.” “When I saw you,” he told her, “I had a negative visceral reaction and I thought to myself: ‘How can a pregnant lady run a dating site?’” She asked why he didn’t feel that way about married founders. “Married people still go to events and bars,” he pointed out. “Women with babies stay at home.”
And the skepticism only grew stronger and more pinching. Instead of being happy and supportive, she was questioned why she wanted to work at all, with the level of her commitment and dedication challenged every step of the way.
The biggest setback she faced was when one of her partners called it quits, explaining to her that “the job was taking a toll on her and she needed a steady stream of income.”
But against all odds, she kept on going – with workload that increased two-fold, and occasional self-doubt. She delivered a healthy and beautiful baby boy, and realized how everything was worth it. Her company came to life too, with 30 employees and a Series A from IAC/Match, Three Day Rule had been “transformed into a powerhouse from a pipedream.”
Today, she is three months pregnant with her second child- and this time, she is taking it on with great vigor. She feels she’s not alone this time- with more and more women seniors and founders a networking events. Her own company is nearly all women, and she encourages her employees to get maximum exposure and stage- by encouraging them to “speak on panels, write articles as thought leaders, and going head-to-head with their male peers.”
While she is ecstatic that more and more women are populating the scene, she is yet to witness pregnant women in the start-up industry. “I am determined to take a stand. I have proven that it is possible to do both: to be a great mom and to run a successful startup. This time, I won’t hide my pregnancy, and I won’t be afraid of what investors might think. This isn’t just an argument about “having it all.” This is about having the opportunity to show that we can.”
Image Credits: Huffington Post