Lauren Mabry Cater admits to being what marketers call an “early adopter.” She became a user and vocal supporter of Wyndy, a mobile app that helps parents find, book and pay trustworthy sitters, shortly after it launched in spring of 2017. In February of 2018, she joined the Wyndy team as marketing director, bringing the skills and expertise she gained while doing communications, marketing strategy and business development for companies like Riverchase Galleria, Barber Motorsports Museum and Park and Schaeffer Eye Center. The Dothan native, who moved to Birmingham after graduating from Auburn University, also sits on the executive board of the Junior League of Birmingham. We talked to Lauren about working at a startup, the importance of community involvement and more. We are honored to welcome this week’s FACE of Birmingham, Lauren Mabry Cater of Wyndy.
How did you first learn about Wyndy?
I was a parent user before I joined the team. I have a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old, and last year I remember I was in an online babysitting group, and Ginger Mayfield posted that she and her husband Tom Mayfield started this app so you could get on-demand babysitters who were background-checked college students. And I was like, “This is amazing!”
This year, I was brought on as the marketing director to help put together an overall marketing strategy for Wyndy and to build out the playbook to launch in new markets. In addition to Birmingham, we’re now in Nashville, Memphis, Charlottesville, Chattanooga, Tuscaloosa and Mobile.
What has it been like to shift from working for more established companies to working for a startup?
I came from Schaeffer Eye Center, and it was really interesting coming from a more corporate structure and jumping in here. Wyndy had started the Velocity Accelerator program at Innovation Depot, so it felt like going back to school, learning about accelerating growth through that 13-week program. At the end of April, we finished, and that culminated with Demo Day, which is a big pitch show. That kicked off our fundraising. We just closed a million-dollar round with local investors.
The fast-paced nature of a startup is challenging but also awesome. It’s very freeing in that you can easily pivot, analyze and optimize. And it’s just amazing the support and encouragement that the community gives. The startup entrepreneurial ecosystem in Birmingham is really awesome.
In what ways do you see Birmingham supporting its entrepreneurs?
Alabama Launchpad (in which Wyndy was also a participant), the Velocity Accelerator program and Innovation Depot are just a few examples. We have a community of different CEOs who have exited or have been very profitable, and they are wanting to give back and invest in these startups where they see potential.
What would you say to parents who are reluctant to use Wyndy because they’re worried it’s not safe?
It is interesting, because while I’m an early adopter, I will say when I first heard of Uber, I was like, “That’s crazy! No one’s going to get into other people’s cars!” But, of course, less than a year later I was like “When is Uber going to come to Birmingham?” So I think just as with Uber, you have to teach people that there’s an easier, safe, convenient way to do things that also helps the community. Wyndy is really unique, because we’re a babysitting platform, but we only have college babysitters. All of our sitters are background-checked, vetted, college students.
Why did you want to join the Wyndy team?
I saw how it could help both sides. You’re really empowering parents to be able to do more — more job opportunities and the ability to do things after hours, connecting with friends or having that date night time. It’s very convenient not just for parents but also for sitters, allowing them viable income while they’re full-time students, which is hard at a retail or brick-and-mortar store. And we’re able to make it easy for college students to engage in their community, to meet new people and meet new families. We have great stories of people who have gotten internships just from engaging with those parents.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I am a big proponent of community volunteerism. If you are taking from all of these amazing things in a community, you need to be giving back to it and helping it grow. For the last couple of years, I’ve been very involved in the Junior League of Birmingham. The Junior League helps develop volunteers and puts them out into the community. Last year they gave over 55,000 volunteer hours through their volunteers. They engage in and partner with so many different nonprofits in Birmingham to provide them with volunteers, to help run programs, and they also run programs themselves. It builds leadership for so many women in the community as well.
Do you have any hobbies?
Before I had children, I made jewelry. Sometimes I still make stuff as I’m trying to keep them from eating the beads. I had an Etsy store and did jewelry shows. So that’s what I would do — if I had time.
What are some of your favorite places in Birmingham?
With my husband, our favorite thing is to see how many places we can go in a date night. One night we went to Back Forty, the Marble Ring and the Sour Room. Another night we went to EastWest. It was so good! And we went to Mom’s Basement. It looks like the “That ’70s Show” basement. And we went to The Atomic. There are so many different vibes and places in Birmingham, and it’s so cool.
One of our favorite events in Birmingham that we go to is the Magic City Art Connection. It showcases so many cool artists, and they also do so many cultural things and have a whole area for kids to play. Art Walk is another favorite. I love art. That’s the other thing I love about Birmingham — it has such a supportive arts community.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
One of my friends who is much older than I am said to me about 10 years ago, “You just don’t know who you are until you’re 40.” I was thinking to myself, That doesn’t make sense. Of course, I know myself. But last year it just hit me – you’re ever-changing, you’re constantly evolving, and if you open yourself up, you’re always learning about yourself. I think it boils down to always grow and always seek out opportunities and challenge yourself, because you never know what you can be.
Other than faith, family and friends, name three things you can’t live without.
Dry shampoo, fun jewelry and Shipt.
Thank you, Lauren, for sharing with us. To learn more about Wyndy, visit getwyndy.com.
And thank you to Charity Ponter of Charity Ponter Photography for these beautiful images!
For more inspiring women in Birmingham, check out our FACES archive, and prepare to be inspired!