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Entrepreneur Couple Bootstrapping an EdTech Company to $10M: Boom Cards CEO Mary Oemig (Part 5)

Posted on Friday, May 13th 2022

Sramana Mitra: The $10 million in revenue, was that also 50/50?

Mary Oemig: Yes. It’s pretty standard that it splits that way. There is some seasonality. The pandemic was this weird surge. This school year is the new baseline, but the pattern has been consistent over the years.

Sramana Mitra: Is this still bootstrapped?

Mary Oemig: Yes. We now want to go to the next step. You do reach a point where you realize that my team has reached as much as we can do on our own without spending a lot of time in learning skills we don’t have. You get to that inflection point where you either have to build a team or find a partner. If you successfully get yourself to $10 million, you got to start thinking about what’s next.

Sramana Mitra: What is that? What are you thinking about?

Mary Oemig: We’re thinking about that exact process.

Sramana Mitra: Fabulous! I love your story.

Mary Oemig: There’s a couple of things that we didn’t talk about. We decided from day one that we were going to be fully remote. We didn’t waste a lot of money and time with facilities.

Sramana Mitra: Before we close, I have two questions. One is about being a female entrepreneur. Two is about being an entrepreneur couple.

Mary Oemig: When we started the company, I was COO and Eric was CEO. At that time, we were building technology, and it made sense for him to be CEO. We tried hiring a CEO in 2018 because we had run into biases against married couples. We actually had one angel investor suggest that I should assign all my voting shares to Eric, which we declined to do. It is the right choice for us.

We’ve approached our marriage as a business. We are very goal-oriented. The reason we started this business as we sat down to one of our family goals meetings on a Sunday and said, “Where do we want to be in 35 years?” We both put that we want to run a family business.

Sramana Mitra: I have absolutely no bias against entrepreneur couples. I’m happy to see that you have succeeded in navigating that part.

Mary Oemig: As a female, there were some biases. They were older investors who didn’t value my role. We hired a CEO and didn’t have a great experience. He had great knowledge, but he wasn’t the right fit. I call myself the accidental CEO. Under our bylaws, the COO automatically becomes the CEO. It made sense that I will be the CEO because we were transitioning from tech-building to marketing.

I have suffered a little bit from the impostor syndrome. I hadn’t really imagined myself as a CEO. Now I see things differently. I enjoy it and it’s important. My skills are relevant and qualified. Some mental adjustments were needed.

One of the things that were important for me was hearing from people, “We always find CEOs with attorney backgrounds really great to work with because they are natural risk managers.” Because I’m a product strategy attorney, my dial on risk is to take a little more risk than a trial attorney.

Sramana Mitra: Very interesting. Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Entrepreneur Couple Bootstrapping an EdTech Company to $10M: Boom Cards CEO Mary Oemig
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