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OurFamilyWizard's new CEO is steering the 20-year-old company into startup territory – Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal


It’s not often that a 20-year-old company with more than 1 million total users across 75 countries tries to turn itself into a startup. But that’s exactly the move OurFamilyWizard has taken in the last year. 
The Minneapolis-based company provides a co-parenting app for divorced and separated parents that allows for easier communication, with tools that track expenses, a shared calendar and secure messaging. (Before smartphones, the company managed a website that did the same thing.)
OurFamilyWizard has been self-funded since it got its start as an undergrad business plan at the University of Minnesota. But that changed last April when it announced a growth investment from Spectrum Equity, a Boston-based firm whose investments include SurveyMonkey, Headspace and Ancestry. 
At the same time the investment was announced, Nick VanWagner was also brought in as CEO. VanWagner’s experience at fast-growing companies such as When I Work and LinkedIn have helped jumpstart OurFamilyWizard towards becoming a household name. 
The company is currently on a hiring spree that has brought in talent from Intuit, Orbitz, Leadpages and more. And last March, Bridgette Haymaker became its first chief marketing officer. 
The Business Journal talked to VanWagner about his vision for the company and why it’s deciding to expand now. The interview has been edited for length and clarity. 
Honestly, part of the reason the company is under the radar is because the team was just super low ego. They focused on the purpose, didn’t care about splash, and wanted to really focus on helping families and kids. I think eventually, the team just decided, ‘Hey, it’s time. We’re at a certain scale, we’re at a certain size … to take this to the next level and bring in some folks that have done this before. And the other thing is, because it’s a niche market, there was never really a need to do mass consumer marketing. The business was smart about reaching families going through divorce or separation. 
Honestly, the thing that we run into the most in terms of competition is basically the Google calendars of the world. And the big difference there is that we have a purpose-built solution that provides secure messaging that provides a calendar that aligns to parenting plans right through divorce and separation. There are these specifics laid out and our product is built to align to those things. One of the biggest things we need to solve for is there’s a lack of category awareness that an app like ours exists. 
We certainly are investing more in that than in the past. And there’s a couple of channels. If you’re a parent going through divorce or separation you’re often working with a range of different kinds of professionals. You might be working with family therapists, mental health professionals, a lot of times you’re touching a court system, sometimes there are different roles, like mediators, parent coordinators, social workers, so on and so forth. So, we’ve established awareness with the professional community. For example, they will say, “Hey, given the context of your co-parenting situation, we think OurFamilyWizard would be would be helpful for you.”
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