An Interview with the Father of Fatherly; The Website for Dads

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Fatherly is a website that is designed to be a resource for, well Fathers, of course.  Founded by Simon Isaacs, it provides assistance for the Millennial dad who wants some help in navigating the 21st century challenges of being a parent. I liked the idea so much that I agreed to be one of their Team of Experts.  Here is my interview with Simon:
 
Richard:
As the father of Fatherly, can you tell us how you came to sire your child?  Was there anyone else involved in the birth process?
 
Simon:
A few years ago, after a bit of "trying" my wife told me she was pregnant. I stared at the pregnancy test wondering what it all meant (it was early and I hadn’t had my first cup of coffee). l had a lot of questions about pregnancy, child care and successfully raising a new human being.  So when my wife signed-up for the requisite pregnancy and parenting newsletters, I did as well.  Amid the slew of welcome emails talking about "my bump," it became obvious that there are few resources focused on dads.  

And yet, at the same time, data began to pour out on the massive shifts taking place at home and work and the "rise of dad" as a decision maker and caretaker.  I became obsessed with the idea of Fatherly as a response to this.  Thus,  like I do with all of my ideas…I created a PowerPoint…

After meeting my now business partner, Michael Rothman, who comes with a background from the men’s media and ecommerce site, Thrillist, and working with design agency a wide range of partners, friends and advisors, we tested the concept of Fatherly as a lifestyle guide for men entering parenthood for a year.  After seeing strong results, we raised a seed round from a great group of VCs, built our team and launched our latest platform and have been growing and scaling ever since.  It’s been quite a ride.

Richard:

Do you have a vision for what impact Fatherly will have on the world.  After all, the more equipped parents are, no matter the gender, the better the kids they launch into the world and the better that world is for it?

Simon:
I spent my first 15 years working in philanthropy and helping launch nonprofit campaigns. With Fatherly, impact is definitely at the center of what we do.  By providing a  with quality lifestyle content that they actually want to read – as well as the actionable resources and community they are looking for, helping them navigate new responsibilities and take on this expanded role with confidence.  And thus, we can play a role in advancing gender equality, strengthening relationships and supporting childhood development.  We are also taking on issues such as parental leave, access to play and quality education.

In addition to this, we also have a monthly Fatherly Fund – a micro-grant in which we offer $1,000 to support an inspiring parenting-related project. For example, Ryan Nelson, a former Army pilot, was a recent winner who built a wheelchair-accessible playground his daughter in his backyard.

Richard:
Who is the ultimate beneficiary of Fatherly, the parent or the child?

Simon:
Our focus is on  guys who have kids – this is an audience that consumes men's interest content but isn't getting info related to his role as a dad.  Think of them as “Playground Dads,” men who are playing a bigger role in the upbringing of their children from pregnancy on. These are guys who aren't afraid to hump their kid around in a Bjorn or hang out in a playground dominated by other moms. It is a group that fiercely abjures characterization. They are not compromising their individual identities at the altar of parenthood. Being a Father is a completely natural extension of who they are.

Whether it is helping guys have conversations with their daughters about body image or choose books that will inspire their kids to be entrepreneurs and engineers, the ripple effects of what we are doing go far beyond dad – to his spouse, his children, his workplace and his community.

Richard:
There are multitudes of parenting magazines, books, websites and social networks aimed at Moms. Can you tell us where Fatherly has commonality with those media and differentiation?
 
Simon:
At last count, there is roughly 4.2 million mom-blogs and parenting sites, books and networks tend to be focused on the needs and experiences of moms.  We’ve learned a lot from these sources and are working with many of them.  The largest point of differentiation is our focus is 100% on the needs of the dad and focus on areas where men play an active role in the family decision making as well as men’s lifestyle topics filtered through the prism of fatherhood.   We also have a heavy focus on experts and thought leaders from the Secretary of Education giving tips about pre-K and the nursery school admissions process, a Navy SEAL giving tips on how to dominate hide n' seek, Malala's dad on how to raise a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Richard:
Women go through such a physical process in bringing a child into the world that there journey is visible to us.  What is the journey like for men and can we see it if we look hard enough?
 
Simon:
The journey for men is starting to be quite visible (though physically it pales in comparison). Men are starting to be are involved in most every aspect.  They are in the delivery room (and as a result, a child is first on Facebook within 57 minutes of birth), they are taking paternity leave.  52% of men are now the primary grocery shopper.  And at home, they are sharing in cooking, cleaning, reading, toy shopping, scheduling play dates and activities.  Fatherly is lifestyle guide for guys to get content and valuable information on these and other new areas that he is engaged in, that he can actually relate to.

Richard:
At Fatherly, when you review toys, are you looking for toys as a solitary pursuit for dads and kids or for together play?
 
 
 


 

Simon:
We’ve seen incredibly strong interest from our audience on toys.  They are looking for the latest and coolest toys and play gear.  Toys for dads and kids to play together like these Kites is definitely one strong use case.  And we have found in general that men are interested in activities they can do with their kids.  We even have a series, 940 Saturdays (as there are roughly 940 Saturdays between when a child is born and when they go to college), where we interview overqualified experts about activities they can do with their kids, like speaking with the guy who is building the next Hubble telescope about stargazing with your kid.
 
Our audience is also interested in how toys benefit their children’s development, and thinking about toys as tools like these ones toys that enhance screen time.  We have also seen that fatherhood is an opportunity to become a kid again, so we also feature toys that are really suited for the dad such as this airplane you can control with your phone.
 

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