A Slice on Sarah Lynch, Co-Founder and CEO of Mama Gaia
Sarah Lynch is not one to shy away from a challenge. A couple years back, Lynch was approached by a friend who wanted her to take over their company. With a background in psychology and creative writing, Lynch was hesitant to say yes. She did not have extensive knowledge of business or finance. Diving into the entrepreneurial world was not only intimidating but would also be a huge risk for her, she never pictured herself as an entrepreneur. Overcoming her hesitation, she decided to say “yes.” Upon her acceptance to take over the company, Mama Gaia was created. Mama Gaia is a startup that builds AI-powered, app-enabled, self-service smart fridges for communal purposes.
Lynch’s journey was far from easy. In the beginning, she took out a loan and purchased three fridges but she had no idea what to do with them. Amidst feeling lost, Lynch never stopped experimenting. “I really fell in love with the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship itself.” Finally, after a period of trial and error, a lightbulb went off in her head. She knew what her product would be: a self-service fridge providing locally sourced food and drinks powered by an app. With a great idea in hand, she moved on to the next step.
Building the fridge system was next on Lynch’s to-do list, yet she knew it was impossible for her to do it on her own. With zero knowledge in engineering, she knew she needed some help, and outsourcing a third-party tech company was not financially feasible. Lynch once again found herself at a standstill. She was faced with two options: continue figuring out the system on her own or throw in the towel and give up. “I didn’t want to walk away at all… I loved being an entrepreneur.” Determined to power through, she decided to bring on two co-founders with skills to fulfill the company’s needs: finance and engineering. “They were crazy enough to go for it with me.” With the full team assembled, Lynch was able to move forward with her vision. Fast forward a year and a half later, Mama Gaia reached a milestone. The company’s growth picked up tremendously with the help of an accelerator and they got their smart fridge technology patented.
To this day, Mama Gaia’s biggest challenge is fundraising. As a first-time female founder in the hardware industry, Lynch quickly realized she would have a harder time attracting investors than others. However, despite this obstacle, Lynch is hopeful that she will eventually grab investors’ attention. One of the pieces of advice Lynch received regarding fundraising was jarring, “It’s easier to raise money after your first failure.” Those words broke Lynch’s heart, to her, failure is not an option. “I’m so obsessed with this dream, I don’t want to give up. Every single time we almost fail or we come across some big hurdle, and I don’t know if we’re going to get past it, I become more obsessed and driven to make it happen. I can’t imagine giving it up and then trying to do something else.” Meanwhile, she and her team are working to mitigate the company’s risks to make them more attractive and pique future investors’ interests.
Lynch’s experience as a young female founder has been “interesting” to say the least. Often, when she enters a room, she’s the only female present. “I’m not taken as seriously… It’s insanely frustrating. If only people knew my drive and how much I’m not going to give up.” Lynch would like to see more women in a room full of engineers. In her eyes, the number of women in the industry is “dismal”, but increasing the number of female engineers is necessary to change women’s experiences in the industry for the better.
The advice Lynch has for young entrepreneurs is to “just start.” She recommends not over-planning, because it has the potential to scare you away from getting started. She suggests not being afraid to make a fool out of yourself. “Don’t be afraid of embarrassing yourself. Just start and see what happens: start experimenting.”
When asked about what success means to her, Lynch described it as fulfilling her own purpose. “I know that I wouldn’t feel fulfilled or happy working for someone else or achieving someone else’s dreams.” Entrepreneurship has been challenging but feels she is “brimming over with joy” doing what she does, even on her most challenging days.
According to Lynch, in 2022, Mama Gaia will start aggressively scaling and fulfilling orders on their waitlist. Then, within three years, she aims to make an exit and begin the next chapter of her entrepreneurial journey.
“I love this entrepreneurial journey so much. I don’t think I want to do anything else for the rest of my life. I would love to just find the next venture and start again.”
Sarah Lynch is the founder and CEO of Mama Gaia. She has a background in psychology and creative writing. She transitioned to the hardware industry in 2018 when she founded her company. Connect with Lynch on LinkedIn.