As a mom, and as a person who is not entirely into downloading apps (albeit being technologically savvy), I am quite excited when I find a useful app. I mean, I use Snapchat because I have a teenage daughter and because the filters add a unique element of fun to my day; but besides that, a language app, and a couple of photography apps, my list of applications is pretty low. However, I had to make room for Milofy. Why? Because it’s awesome!
Okay, first of all, Milofy is awesome because it addresses a few of the questions, or concerns, I have when wanting to engage with other adults to go out & have fun. For instance, as a business person, I have to meet people. I have made the better friends in the people with whom I was able to interact on a human level, and not necessarily on a ‘business’ level. So, for instance, the couple you meet at an arts’ gala, with whom you end up talking about the South Carolina low country shrimp and grits hors d’oeuvre, or the wine from New Zealand, and with whom you find a common interest in economics, bar-hopping, and… I don’t know… cooking, may end up being the couple with whom you conduct business, as well as partake in fun activities. Milofy lets you see all of that in a couple before you even meet them! So, my husband and I create a profile, we answer a few questions cleverly created by the Milofy team, and then the app matches us with couples (so that’s already safer than having 1-on-1 meetings with strangers) who are like-minded (taking out the guesswork and the 21 questions we want to ask when meeting new people), and Milofy also matches my husband and I to acti…. you know what? I think you should just read this interview with Arshya Lakshman, a beautiful soul, brilliant person, and creator & CEO of Milofy. We had an extensive conversation in which she answered my questions in detail, and showed her love for humanity and healthy relationships amongst all sorts of people. Please read on to find out just what is Milofy and why you’d want to Milofy, too.
S: So, what is Milofy?
A: Milofy is an app that answers a very simple social problem – making life more REAL – the way it used to be. Have ‘real’ experiences, by connecting couples/families with each other for memorable social experiences, creating healthy balanced lives.
Even with partners/families and with technology making it convenient to keep in touch, people are still quite lonely and struggle to meet new like-minded people. Very often they have this facade on social platforms – a performance of what they want others to believe their life to be. They say: “this is my life”, you know, “I have these selfies and these stunning pictures”. Gone are the days of making spontaneous plans with ease and finding like-minded people who are free to hang out when you want to.
With Milofy we’re getting people to meet offline, with the help of online technology. We are using technology to bring people together and do so in a safe environment. We help couples connect with other like-minded couples. We match them with an algorithm by asking some interesting questions – it’s a ton of fun but also truly solves the social problems for couples.
Not only do we match couples with each other, we also match them with fun, interesting local activities happening in their city. One of the cool things about it is that you can choose the same couples to meet with again, or you can choose new other couples to hang out with.
S: That’s a beautiful concept! So, I am curious about the name. How did the name come up?
A: Hahaha! Milo in Hindi means ‘to meet’. I felt that it had a nice zing to it. Also, it’s an easy name to say.
S: Has Milofy launched already?
A: Yes, actually. We are so excited!
We did a soft launch four months ago and gathered a ton of feedback from couples in New York. People loved the idea and we were getting users organically every day. However, they wanted the app to be even simpler – so we removed some features, made the interface super easy and simple to use. Research suggested that we also give couples a chance to connect on the app first before they meet offline, to help break ground. So the app now has features to chat, send stickers, and engage before meeting offline. We launched Milofy Version 2.0 on the 4th of January. Please do download it from either the Playstore or the Appstore and send us feedback.
Now that we are live in NYC we plan to launch in San Francisco soon! And though there are apps out there for couples, there isn’t an app like Milofy. It’s exciting that we have no competition, and that we are the first ones doing something like this – while we aim to solve a real life problem.
S: Trailblazers! So, my next question is: do you have education, or experiential background in this, in bringing people together, either couples specifically or otherwise, or is this a new venture for you?
A: Completely new. The only thing I have experience in is business, strategy, marketing, and startups.
I did my undergrad in visual communications and a Master in Business from the UK. I worked for startups and large organizations across Northern Europe and Asia Pacific. I started my first startup in London which was an ROI-based marketing firm and then did a short stint with Kalaari Capital (venture capital firm) before I jumped into being an entrepreneur for the second time.
While, I don’t have any background in couples/people or psychology of people; education and work allowed me to live in various cities – in Europe, in the US and finally back home in India. This made me and my partner feel the need to connect with like-minded people – spontaneously. It was difficult to create a social life in a new place and find new couples. Sometimes, even if we had couple friends, things like traffic, availability of time or a mismatch of interests would be an issue. This is how I came up with Milofy – it answered a personal problem for me and hence I set out to create this app.
S: I think it’s important to talk about age because of young women who may want to take on something new. Has you being young, and a woman affected the creation of your app, particularly in India?
A: Well, I am 33, which is not young (sigh!) when it comes to start-ups, you now see 21-year olds doing so well with their own firms. My first startup was at the age of 27, again – not so young in this industry. I do believe age is just a number and it’s about the energy, drive, and passion that you bring to an idea.
Now as far as me being a woman I should give a disclaimer that I have been very fortunate. I have a very supportive family – which really makes a huge difference, helping me focus on my work. My husband, parents, parents-in-law, grandparent have always said: “do your thing!” and just want me to be happy in whatever work I do.
There have been some rare moments when my parents asked if I was sure I wanted to be an entrepreneur again (because of the amount of time and energy they saw me pour into my previous startup), or when my grandmother asked why I worked so hard and that maybe it is time for me to have a baby (which I believe is a question men do not get asked), but overall, they always have encouraged me to go do my thing.
I think the question of when to have a baby is probably in the back of most women’s minds. As a founder of a start-up, random people have asked me sensitive questions like – oh does it mean you can’t start a family if you start your company? Can I not do both? I remember having a heart to heart conversation with my mentor about these questions. He simply said, “Why is it anyone’s business”. He also said: “Look, who said you can’t do both. My best entrepreneurs have been women entrepreneurs. They are more hardworking, better with their money, and somehow, do everything that a CEO should be doing”.
This really made me feel okay. I realized there are some glass ceilings to break, there will be some sexist questions that get asked. As long as I work hard and believe in what I am doing from my heart – I will be OK.
In terms of executing this idea in India… well, the thing is this: In India, the moment something does well in the US, like Tinder, they might just take it up. (Laughs heartily) They might say: “hey, that’s cool!” So the moment I said Milofy is doing a bit well in the US, now suddenly I am seeing so many installs in India! In India, people may have this thought: “I don’t know, I don’t want to meet someone strange and new”. But then how did Tinder work out here? It’s a huge case study because in India people are more traditional and guarded! There is a cultural shift that’s happening, and I think that’s really going to help me with the introduction of Milofy in the country. Technically, building the app from India has been just awesome – I am so proud of what the team has created here. They are completely at ease taking instructions from a so-called ‘young woman’ entrepreneur.
S: Have you always had an entrepreneurial mindset (even as a young girl), or when did it begin?
A: Good question. To be honest, I had a dream when I was young. I remember it being very funny, very childish, that when I grow old I’d have built this business empire. Fairly egoistic dream, when I think about it now. I’ll be Arshya Advertising Agency, Arshya Production House, Arshya this, Arshya that. (Laughs). I didn’t pay attention to that dream and forgot about it. When I started working, my goal was to be a senior-most employee at a Fortune 500. I didn’t even know I had the entrepreneurial bug in me, at all, to be honest. I never thought that one day I’d aspire to start a Fortune 500. Now you know my plans for Milofy (giggles)!
When my husband and I moved to the US, I decided to take some time off. However, within three months of my so-called sabbatical, I knew I couldn’t stay so dependent in an absolutely new country. I was used to being drastically independent and this wasn’t working for me. I was conflicted whether to look for a job or dive into starting something on my own. My husband encouraged I should try the latter. This decision just felt right!
I did have the initial hesitation, but within a few days I knew I would combine online-offline marketing (bring more numbers and ROI to marketing), I knew my company’s name, I started attending webinars, and learning how to start a company – it was just so exciting and felt so right!
S: My last question for you is this: Do you hire both women and men?
A: Milofy is an inclusive company through and through. However, it just so happens that a lot of my team members are women. My head of operations is a lady in NY who has been with Ernst and Young and other large companies, my CTO is a lady who has been the head architect for Unilever and worked for McAfee, Oracle, and Intuit. My social media is run by another organization, which is run by a lady. My current project manager is a lady and so is my iOS developer. Most of my interns are women. Almost all of them are married and have children too! They’re just awesome. They work super hard.
We have a couple of men working on tech and as interns – they are fantastic too, but honestly it’s women all the way at Milofy!
It’s not that I designed for it to be that way, but I have been lucky that I have the most hardworking ladies, and so balanced with their duties towards family and friends.
It’s girl power all the way. We have to take care of each other. We have to help each other. Some people say that women don’t like working with other women. I really believe that’s one thing we should change because women have to support each other. We have to make it easier for each other. I think we should have a more mature attitude focused on empowering each other. It’s not a competition.
I aspire that Milofy can become an organization that empowers women from all walks of life!
S: If you could tell young girls anything, as a woman and as the CEO of your own company, what would you say?
A: I would say that you need to really (really) work hard and dream big. And I wouldn’t say be ambitious, I would say be aspirational. You know?
Don’t power your dreams with ego.
Power your dreams with aspiration.
Anybody who wants to be the best they want to be; the universe just works with them to give them what they want. And this whole idea of positive manifestation, positive attitude, I know it sounds really cliché, but it actually works!
I see a lot of interns and I hire a lot of older teens and young grads in their early 20s, and I feel what they really benefit from is by spending a lot more time on serious research and understanding of concepts instead of just shallow things. The new way of reading stuff is so… bullet points, gifs, quick 5-point blogs, etc… People have lost the ability, perhaps, to read long journals.
I truly believe if young girls believe in something, do their research, work super hard, read, keep their eyes and ears open and see what’s going on around them, they can literally do and become anything. And when it comes from a position of love and aspiration, it’s amazing what miracles can actually happen; how mountains can move. It’s beautiful! The world is their oyster.
Be Courageous, Don’t Be Shy! Get the App and Milofy!
“They blame me…”
“They said I must not have been a good enough wife…”
“Is it okay to ask the father to pay for my child?”
“I’m not allowed to leave the house.”
“Being a single mom, feel people look down on me as I matter less.”
What Single Moms Need
Those are just a few of the things I’ve heard over the year, since I started a local support group for single mothers called Single Moms Indonesia.
Living in a patriarchal country Indonesia, women still get blamed for filing divorce. The religious divorce court will put the blame on the women. The court will have a mediation session that almost always ended up with a panel of male officials putting the blame on the women. Women are usually prone to be verbally abused in this situation. It doesn’t matter if the woman filed for divorce following her husband’s infidelity or even abuse.
Indonesians have one word for divorced woman and it is laden with a negative connotation. The word is “Janda” and it’s true meanings are: a woman whose husband has died, or she is a divorcee. I’m not a fan of the word because of the shadowing negativity behind it. The word has turned into a label. It means that the woman behind it is someone who will seduce another’s husband, who ‘asked for it’. It means a woman who is worthy of all the juicy gossips.
To hear members of the support group that live outside of Jakarta, in small towns talked about how they are being isolated just because the neighbor thinks she may pose a threat for being divorced really disturbs me. Not only have these women lost their families but they are also being shunned by the society and having little supports from the government.
What these women need are our support. They do not want to be blamed for their decisions in life. They do not want to be made embarrassed and put on the spot often in a derogatory way.
What single moms in Indonesia needs:
- Emotional support. Some members of our group choose to be anonymous because they fear that their families or friends will start gossiping.
- Financial Education. Having to be responsible for their own financial state can be daunting for some women especially if they have never work before. Financial education can really help single moms to make better choices or investment.
- Parenting Therapy/Support. Often times single moms here are stressed borderline depressed going through their divorce process this can greatly impact the way they mother to their children.
- Affordable Daycare. One of the biggest challenges of working single mothers in Jakarta and Indonesia, in general, is the lack of affordable daycare available.
- Affordable Housing. With prices of housing skyrocketing in Indonesia, plenty of single mothers are forced to move back in, with their parents or rent the cheapest place they can afford.
- Child Support. There is no legal binding laws or government agency in Indonesia that assure children out of divorce families are financially taken care of. In most cases, men just flee and leave the financial burden of raising children to their ex-spouse.
I know these are very general things that not only Indonesian single moms needs, but all single parents needs.
Maybe as a society the simple first step we could take is to be kind and understanding towards single moms because deep down we are all just trying to do our best with the circumstances we are forced to be in, in this life.
Single moms, just like the rest are trying to make it work and to raise children who will become great individuals in the future.
How is life for single moms in your country? Does your government provide special assistant for single parents?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer and single-mom to one in Jakarta, Maureen.
Photo credit to unsplash.com
When you first separate, you are a big mess but you are full of hope that you’ll just manage everything well, mostly with the father of your children.
You have thought about this many times, when you have heard about friends or acquaintances getting a divorce and fighting like mad people over this or that, without a thought for their poor children, who are completely lost between Mum and Dad, not knowing where to go, what to believe, or how to feel about all of this.
You are good at reassuring yourself. You won’t go that way and you’ll do everything in your power to protect your kids in this painful situation. You are very good at telling yourself that what happened between you and your ex-husband has nothing to do with the father he is and the relationship he has or will have with his children. You think that it’ll be easy to make the distinction between the man and the dad. Until it’s not.
After our separation and all the tears I shed, all the pain I had to overcome, I was ready to let my boy’s father have a chance to know him and develop a harmonious relationship with him. It was tough at first, tough to put aside my feelings, every memory of what we went through as a couple. But I did it considering my child’s best interests.
And I opened a door, to give us all a chance to build a brighter future for our boy, knowing that this would be quite difficult for all of us, that we’d need to give it time and that we’d have to celebrate successes without taking failures too seriously.
After a while, after many ups and downs on the road, I realised that sometimes you can’t make it easier for your little ones. Sometime there is a deeper problem.
I still try my best not to say anything bad about my boy’s father in front of him. I try my best to keep my anger away from him. But I find it difficult to make the distinction between Dad and ex-husband – maybe because he is not much of a dad, because he does not make any effort to make things go smoothly. I still find it hard to talk to my boy about his dad with joy and happiness. And when I hear my precious one saying with his innocent voice, “I miss you, Dad”, it breaks my heart.
How do you manage shared time with the father of your kid? Did you stay in good terms? Do you find it hard to let father and kids have the space they deserve?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Marie Kleber of France. Photo credit to the author.
When it was time for my son to start school, I knew I wanted him to go to private school and thankfully, he was accepted into one of the international schools near our house.
Private school has its pluses and unfortunately its negatives too.
My son’s classmates are from the upper-middle class, those whose spring breaks were spent going to Japan or Hong Kong to visit Disney Land. The same kids who also have their own iPads and the latest cell phones.
I realized this might cause a challenge for us—with me being a single mom, who had just recently returned to the corporate world—but I try not to let their different lifestyles make my son feel that he’s different.
So that’s why, on Easter weekend, I took him on a mini-getaway to my new job.
We did not take a taxi to get to my office, which is in a hotel. Instead, we rode the train like I do daily. I wanted to show him this is what his mother has to do to get to and from work. He got to see views that he won’t see from inside a nice air conditioned taxi or private car.
He loved staying in the hotel, just like most kids do, so we had a blast. But on our way home Sunday afternoon, the train was full. Not as full as it normally would be on a week day, still, we had to stand. We were leaning against the wall that separates the engine and the passengers. With the train swaying, it didn’t take long before my son told me he wished he could sit down.
Part of my mama bear instinct wanted to give him a seat but part of my tough love was to allow him to feel and experience how not everyone is blessed with a comfortable life.
I hope by showing him what I have to go through on a daily basis it will help him realize that I am working hard, that as the sole bread winner, I am providing for him. Yes, his father pays for school but outside of that, he is my responsibility and I’m doing my best to take care of him.
Yes, I told him I would love to be able to take him to Disney Land someday but for now, we have other priorities. Bills to pay, medicines to get for my parents, uniforms to alter, the list goes on.
Through our short train ride, my son was exposed to life “outside the fence”. What he saw through the windows of the train: makeshift shacks, houses built only inches away from the train tracks, kids playing soccer barefooted with garbage piling up around them. Hard life. The other side of glamorous Jakarta living.
We discuss this. He asked me why these people are living in such poor conditions. My heart ached having to explain that some people are not as fortunate as we are and that poverty is real.
We have a house to live in, a roof over our heads, while others came to the big city to chase their dreams and never made it. That’s why it is important for him to get his education so he can make a living for himself, one that hopefully he will love. I told him it is easy to look up and want what other people have but we need to be in the now, to be grateful for what we already have. To remember that there are those who need our help, who are struggling just to eat.
My wish is for my son to understand this, to grow up being grateful for what we have and to have a heart that is kind and willing to help others.
How do you explain poverty to your children?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer and single-mom to one in Jakarta, Tatter Scoops.
The image used in this post is attributed to Hideki Yoshida. It carries a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.
I didn’t have a bad marriage.
I wasn’t beaten or mistreated.
My ex never had an affair.
Money stressors were manageable.
We rarely argued.
To the outside world we seemed absolutely fine. But we weren’t.
It was, for me, an intensely sad marriage. And for a long time I couldn’t work out why. Here was a perfectly pleasant man who wished me well and who responded to my affection. He worked hard and was what most of us would call a “good guy”. He still is. But my self-esteem was dropping and my mood was becoming a habitual mix of frustration and melancholy.
It was one of those slow drifts downwards, like water eroding rock.
Then, around 10 years ago, he was diagnosed with something call Alexithymia. It’s not a mental disorder but more of a fixed personality trait. It’s common in those formally on the autism spectrum, in those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorders and in some of us with attachment issues from our early childhood.
Basically, anyone with Alexithymia cannot identify the bodily sensations that go along with their emotions. They still have the same sensations but are unable to distinguish between them and label them. They also have a very limited imaginative life, which sounds fine, until you realise predicting outcomes and taking steps to avoid the less desirable ones, are in fact, a product of our imagination.
These two issues give rise to a deep lack of empathy and ability to relate to another human being. Sympathy –the intellectual understanding of the experience of another–can happen but the actual feeling of an emotion, as another has it, in the sense of true empathy, cannot.
For me, this meant I would have to be sobbing in front of my ex before he understood I was sad, and then have to tell him to give me a hug, as the appropriate response. He did not mean to be uncaring. He just never understood subtle body language or had the instinctive responses that most of us have.
There are always three choices in a situation: To alter it; to put up with it; or to leave.
For many years I did my best to see if things could change. I offered to go back to work, so he could get therapy. I suggested counselling, on more than one occasion. None of these offers were ever taken up.
The more I read about Alexithymia, the more I realised… I would never be taken up on any of these. People with Alexithymia see the rest of us as over-emotional and confusing. They cannot see why they would leave their completely logical realms. Their idea of a perfect partner is a kind body in the house with whom there is as little emotional deviation and routines are maintained – this was exactly what our marriage was.
As time went by, I became increasingly distant and detached. At times, I became unpleasant and down right bitchy. Then, around three years ago, someone asked me what made me happy. And I couldn’t tell them. From being someone who was a perpetual optimist, I was by then emotionally dead – aside from experiencing frustration and melancholy. It was a massive wake up call and I knew something had to change.
It did take three years for me to be ready. There is a comfort in familiarity that is enticing. But in the end, my physical body was beginning to suffer, my older boys were finding the emotional disconnect from their father tough going and the other side of the leap to leave seemed less stressful than staying.
I am sure I was by no means the perfect partner either. But I share this here because these are immensely lonely and soul-destroying relationships to be in – and many who are in them either think they are going crazy or that they are the only ones ever to have this experience or some combination of both. But neither are true.
You’re not crazy. You’re not alone. The shell of the outside relationship that the world sees is not the whole story.
Have you ever known someone with Alexithymia? Tell us your tale.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our long-time contributor and mother to three in New Zealand, Karyn Sparkles Willis.
The image used in this post is attributed to Nathan Jones. It carries a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.
Over the past ten years, my daughter has read quite a few books. She started reading books like The Berenstain Bears series when she was two or three years old; it was a favorite activity to do with her grandma.
By age six she was really into the Magic Tree House series, devouring them as soon as she got them home. She also had some strange requests at age six, like the book Growing Up in Mississippi. Personally, I thought that was a fine book for her to read, except for the third part which talks about the main character’s high school years (and experiences that accompany that time of life).
Of course I was in mom heaven, having a child who was such an avid reader. Her interest in reading spilled over into school, and she participated in various reading programs, and won some medals; which she absolutely loved.
The majority of the books she has read since age six have either been on a required school list of readings, suggested readings, part of a competition (like Battle of the Books), or popular books approved by her peers and teenagers (e.g. The Hunger Games).
Two years ago we told her that she needed to read some classics as well.
We explained that there is at least one reason why certain books are internationally recognized, and how books like The Hunger Games are partially a product of these classics’ influence on the new authors. My assignment for her (as a part of homeschool) was to read Frederick Douglass, a child-friendly version of The Hunger Games.
Her father’s assignment immediately after Frederick Douglass was The Lord of the Flies. She lives with her dad on weekends, but there was no escaping this reading ‘thing’ her parents were making her do! Poor girl! No breaks on weekdays or weekends.
I really tried to get her to enjoy reading Frederick Douglass. She and I talked about American history and how this book was about overcoming enslavement, and that it was important for her to read this as an African-American girl. I told her she could read whatever she wanted when she was finished, or even read a book of her choice simultaneously with this one. Nothing worked. She went from reading a book a week, to taking six months to finish Frederick Douglass’ biography. Lord of the Flies took a year for her to finish, and she really did not enjoy reading it.
After these two parent ‘fails’, I really just wanted her to read. I wanted her to rekindle the passion she had for reading and so I let her read almost whatever she liked. Her choices are actually pretty good. Some books have deep moral meanings, and some just talk about fun stuff like fart powder for the bathtub.
We used to keep books organized by content, but now we have shelves that carry books about varying subjects. By doing this, we hope that while she’s looking for a book to read, her eye may be caught by East Africa’s History, or The Prophet, or The Human Body, or something else she wouldn’t typically think she’d like.
Do you have a set of boundaries on what your child/ren can read? If so, what do you base it on? Have you tried to introduce different books to your child/ren? If so, how were they received?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Sophia. You can find her blogging at Think Say Be and on twitter @ThinkSayBeSNJ.
Photo credit to the author.