Who: Allison O’Kelly
Founder and CEO, Mom Corps
WHAT SHE DOES
Since its launch in 2005, Mom Corps, a national job-placement firm, has found positions for thousands of experienced professional women who need flexible work so they can raise their families. The companies are the clients, and they pay the fee.
HOW SHE GOT THE IDEA
O’Kelly, a Harvard MBA and a CPA, was a top manager with Toys “R” Us in Atlanta when she had the first of her three children. The job and her new-mom schedule didn’t mesh, so she started her own home-based accounting and business services firm—and got so much contract work from corporations that she hired five fellow moms who also needed flexibility. That’s when she saw a niche waiting to be filled.
WHY SHE'S PASSIONATE
“If someone wants to be a stay-at-home mom, more power to her,” says O’Kelly, who now lives outside Philadelphia and still works from home, as does her management team of 15. “But I hate it when women would like to work but don’t see how to do that and still spend time with their families. So they stay home and are miserable. That’s a shame.”
“At first, companies said, ‘We don’t have flexibility here,’ ” O’Kelly recalls. “We showed them that flexibility doesn’t necessarily mean working from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; it can mean working full time from home or full time but not during the summer. Employers limit themselves if they don’t consider all the possibilities.”
DOUGH TO GO
Start-up funding came from friends, family and O’Kelly’s savings. “I decided not to take venture capital,” she says. “The staff and I are people who may need to go to soccer practice at 3 p.m. but will work at the computer until 1 a.m. I didn’t think that the world of venture capital, which is run by middle-aged men, would understand.”
THE NEXT LEVEL
Since creating franchises in 2009, Mom Corps went from $1.7 million to $10 million in sales despite a bad economy. Now there are 15 Mom Corps franchises in 12 states.
O’KELLY'S BIG REWARD
“From day one, the women we placed felt better about their lives. I knew I was making a difference.”
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