Welcome to the Modern Muse series. Each week I’ll be interviewing an inspiring human who is pursuing her passions and living a life of her own design. There are so many incredible people doing incredible things in this world, so these posts are designed to highlight their awesomeness and give you inspiration and courage to pursue your own path.
The first installment is an interview with Felicia Curcuru, CEO + Co-founder of Binti, a tech company that helps parents adopt children. I sat down with Felicia to learn more about her company, why she believes in vacation, and her advice for other budding entrepreneurs. Here’s her story.
Tell me a little bit about your company. What do you do?
At Binti we help children find loving families. We’re a for profit mission-driven company that uses technology to make adoptions easier and less expensive. The current adoption process is extremely broken - 90% of parents drop out because it’s too difficult.
How did you come up with the idea for Binti?
I went through the adoption process with my sister when she was adopting my niece and nephew, and it was really difficult and expensive. My sister visited the orphanage where her children were living. There were 300 children there and she asked how many of the children would be adopted. The people working at the orphanage told her that they were only parents to visit in a few years, and that most of the children don’t ever get adopted. As soon as I heard that story I thought, “Why is it so difficult to adopt if there are so many children in need?”
You are doing some really amazing, innovative things to help with adoptions. Can you share what you’re working on?
So there are 3 main types of adoption - international adoption, foster care, and domestic infant adoption. Our first product focuses on the home study, which is the first step parents must take to get approved to adopt. We created a TurboTax-like experience for all of the home study paperwork and help match parents with a social worker.
Our second product, which I’m really excited about, focuses on matching adoptive parents and expectant mothers. We recently launched this product for domestic infant adoptions, and it’s been amazing to see the connections that are being made.
You’re also working on some community-building products, right?
Yeah, we talked with several women who placed their children for adoption in the past, and they said they wished they had more women to talk to for advice when they were going through the process. They also needed more education about the adoption process and what choices they were allowed to make.
To solve this, we created a community forum and a buddy program where birth mothers can match with mothers considering adoption to help them through the process. We’ve also released a lot of educational resources - like an expectant parents guide to adoption, videos from birth mothers, and a birth mother ‘what I wish I knew’ list.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Think about the problems you care most about and create a list of ideas for solving them. If you pick something you care a lot about, you will be excited to work on it every day. Find some founders that are further along than you. Treat them as friends and mentors! Bounce ideas off of them. Their business doesn’t need to be exactly like yours because there’s so much that’s the same across companies like fundraising, recruiting, management, etc.
You are a for-profit, mission-drive company. Why did you choose that over being a non-profit?
In my opinion, businesses are more sustainable and scalable than non-profits, and you can raise money from investors which is much easier than waiting for grants. I also love that there’s a push within the company to make sure that it’s providing value and can self sustain.
What practices do you have to take care of yourself as you’re working your booty off?
I always make sure to get enough sleep - I’m not as effective if I don’t get at least 8 hours. I also take at least one day off each week. If I’m having a hard day, I love doing my nails or a face mask, or calling my parents. Oh and lighting a candle. It makes me feel like I’m taking care of myself and treating myself well.
What do you love to do in your free time?
I like visiting my family a lot. I go to the East Coast every 2-3 months to see my family and nieces and nephews. I also try to take a weekend trip at least once a month. I have a good friend who lives in Korea and we do a reunion every 2 years so we’re going to Southeast Asia in the spring. I can’t wait. I guess the theme here would be travel.
Travel is super important. As a busy CEO and Founder, what’s your vacation philosophy?
I really believe in vacation and I think that if you don’t take it, you end up working really hard but not on the right things. When I take time off I come back energized with great ideas and a great perspective.
What are you most excited about right now?
We have a new product to make connections between adoptive parents and expectant mothers that we just launched. I’m excited to see more connections made through that. I’m also really excited to expand into foster care and international adoption because that’s where most of the waiting children are.
Thank you so much Felicia for sharing your story with us and for sharing your light with the world. You are truly an inspiration.