Meet five exceptional founders whose companies empower parents for success

In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly announced the first annual Global Day of Parents. Since then, June 1st has become a day dedicated to appreciating parents for their selfless commitments and sacrifices. 

At Asana, we’ve been intentional about fostering an inclusive environment where everyone—including parents and caregivers—feel supported and can be themselves at work. On this Global Day of Parents, in addition to celebrating our parent Asanas, we’re also celebrating our customers who have built companies that empower parents for success. Five standout founders recently shared why it’s so important to recognize the heroic efforts of parents, as well as their advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Danny Mendoza—Founder and CEO, Together We Rise

When Danny Mendoza discovered that his nine-year-old cousin was living in a car, he wanted to help create a support system for him. But Danny was not yet a legal adult and he encountered obstacles due to several flaws in the foster care system. So Danny created Together We Rise to help foster youth get the resources they need to succeed in life. 

Danny and his team rely on Asana to set goals and track their most important roles. Since using Asana, Danny and his team have increased the number of kids they help each year by 9x—to 90,000 kids annually. 

Danny’s parents have played a significant role in his life. He explains, “I was blessed with opportunities to have a mindset that anything I want in life is attainable if I put it in the work. My parents taught me this and provided me with a foundation to succeed.” Danny reminds us that it’s important to recognize traditional and non-traditional parents around the world: “There are many selfless people that step up to raise children that are not biologically related. These parents make a choice for the betterment of humanity. These parenting efforts should never go unnoticed; they should be celebrated.” 

Danny’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to never give up through the hard times. He says, “In any business, there are hardships that entrepreneurs go through but it is important to weather the storm.” One of Danny’s favorite quotes is: “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” He adds, “At one point every entrepreneur had to overcome a hardship that they were not prepared for.”

Mahisha Dellinger—Founder and CEO, CURLS

In 2002, Mahisha Dellinger was a new mother searching for natural products for her curly hair. After struggling to find a solution that fit her natural lifestyle, Mahisha launched CURLS, an award-winning organic haircare brand created specifically for all women and children with naturally curly hair. Featured in top magazines such as Vogue, InStyle, Marie Claire, and Allure, CURLS also has a strong celebrity following which includes actress Halle Berry and recording artist Ashanti, to name a few. 

In launching CURLS, Mahisha wanted to create a destiny that she would be proud of—in her words, “something that would propel my legacy, my children forward.” In addition to CURLS, Mahisha has also built this legacy through her show on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), “Mind Your Business with Mahisha Dellinger,” which helps aspiring female entrepreneurs develop and elevate their businesses. 

As Mahisha has grown her business, Asana has helped her team stay aligned. She explains, “Asana is amazing for my large and diverse team. After needing to expand the CURLS team to accommodate the number of online sales, Asana has helped keep us on track.” 

Through CURLS, Mahisha empowers parents to support their children in embracing their own curls. Mahisha has also put on hair care demonstrations for adoptive parents of African American and biracial children who are new to their children’s haircare needs. In reflecting on Global Day of Parents, Mahisha says, “Parents are responsible for creating well-rounded, productive citizens while wearing so many hats. I think we should be celebrated daily!” 

Mahisha’s advice for entrepreneurs is to do your due diligence. She says, “80% of all businesses fail by their fifth year, so I recommend helping yourself beat that statistic. Know your market and competition inside and out.”

Ruby Lee—Co-Founder and CTO, Juni Learning

When Ruby Lee and her co-founder Vivian Shen were younger, they didn’t always have opportunities in school to learn about the subjects that they were excited about—whether that was coding, or entrepreneurship, or writing novels. They wanted to create the educational opportunities they wish they had as kids. The result is Juni Learning, an award-winning online Computer Science, Mathematics, and English academy that offers private courses and 1:1 instruction for kids.  

Ruby and her team use Asana to plan timelines for projects ranging from engineering to marketing campaigns. She says, “It’s great for people across teams to be able to visualize others’ plans and timelines.” 

Every day, Juni Learning helps parents give their children opportunities to expand their educational horizons. As Ruby told us, “We’ve worked with more than 6,000 families at Juni— making a difference every day. They care not only about education, but also preparing and helping their kids become their best selves.” As Ruby reflects on Global Day of Parents, she says, “Parents give life and love; they exemplify life lessons about kindness, perseverance, and humility to their kids every day.” 

Ruby’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to “commit and get started.” She says, “Once you’re ready to put 100% of your working hours into the startup, get close to your customers and start building. Don’t rush to get yourself into that mindset if you’re not ready, because you have to want it and be super focused on building your company.”

Dan Carroll—Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Clever

After teaching middle school science, as part of Teach For America, Dan Carroll saw firsthand how difficult it was to deploy EdTech to teachers. After getting promoted to a Director of Technology role, Dan became even more aware of these challenges. He recalls how students often spent more time logging into technology than they spent learning. In 2012, Dan launched Clever with two of his best friends from college who, in his words. “convinced me that it was time to stop complaining about the broken parts of EdTech and we should fix them.”

Dan and his team have been using Asana since 2012 in a variety of ways, including employee onboarding and customer processes. As Clever has scaled, the company has found even more ways to use Asana, from collaboration with external vendors to keeping the team all on the same page.

Clever helps instill parents with confidence that their children have a learning environment that sets them up for success. As a new dad to his 18-month old daughter, Dan appreciates, more than ever before, how challenging it is to be a parent. As Dan reflects on Global Day of Parents, he’s especially appreciative of parents who are also teachers; they’re not only responsible for taking care of their own children, but also teaching other children. 

Dan’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to fall in love with a problem. Dan explains: “If things go well, you’ll be working on your startup for a decade or more, so make sure it’s something you truly care about. My obsession with solving the problem of EdTech integration came first; starting a company ended up being the only path I saw to fixing what was broken.” Dan also advises entrepreneurs to “get great at telling your story—so others get as obsessed as you are.”

Nathalie Walton—Co-Founder and CEO, Expectful

In 2019, while experiencing a traumatic high-risk pregnancy, Nathalie Walton discovered Expectful—a digital platform that makes meditation easy for expectant and new moms. After coming across an opportunity to advise Expectful, Nathalie, who was also an aspiring entrepreneur, became a late-stage co-founder and CEO of the company. Today, Nathalie’s vision is to build the company by broadening its offerings and growing it to become the go-to wellness resource for anyone in their motherhood journey.

Nathalie and her team use Asana to collaborate with their external partners. She says, “I’ve enjoyed using Asana because I can participate in a conversation with external partners in the same way I can with someone on my team. It’s a tool that allows me to drop into another company’s workflow seamlessly, which is tremendously helpful, especially as we continue to grow and expand.” 

In reflecting on Global Day of Parents, Nathalie pointed us to a recent study that showed that over a 30-year career, mothers outperformed women without children at almost every stage, and men with two or more children were more productive than men without children. She explained, “Parenting involves a mastery of multitasking, empathy, and endurance. As parents, we cultivate and enhance skills that enable us to be even more successful and more robust leaders… It’s essential to recognize parents’ hard work because the benefits of working with parents are so rarely celebrated in the workplace—even though parents are some of the best employees one can find.”  

Nathalie’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to consider exploring an advisor position. She says, “Many early-stage companies are looking for advisors to guide them in areas where they can’t make hires, and they would be delighted to bring on someone who can help them in a particular area. It’s an accessible way to get involved with a company you admire without taking on substantial risk. If you fall in love with a company, like the way I did with Expectful, it’s an excellent way to explore what you’re getting into before taking the leap.”

Celebrating Global Day of Parents

The contributions of parents and caregivers are visible every day. Global Day of Parents is a time to reflect on these daily contributions. These five founders have built businesses that recognize the selfless commitments of parents and caregivers, and enable them to further the everlasting impact they have on their children.

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