Meet Synapse Sitters: A service for children with special needs

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Synapse Sitters - theCityMoms

CityMom Marie Maher didn’t think of herself as a woman in technology. She was just a mother who saw a need and came up with a solution.

In fact it took a member of the Startup Ladies – a local networking organization – to convince her that she was in fact a tech innovator. Her colleague said, “You built an online community. You built technology that connects people. You are a woman in technology.”

Once Marie acknowledged this role, it didn’t take long for her to embrace it. Recently she was selected as the winner of a pitch competition at the Indiana Conference for Women with attendance of 1700 people. Out of 500 female-owned business in Indiana who vied for this honor, Marie’s new venture Synapse Sitters was selected.

Synapse Sitters - theCityMomsBut Marie’s success hasn’t been easy.

Like most entrepreneurs, she has learned through her mistakes and trial and error. Her first business, Lullaby Sitters, connected area sitters to interested families. The business was growing but everything changed for Marie because of an event in her personal life:

Marie’s son – the younger of her two children – was diagnosed with autism in July 2016. Although the diagnosis was not a complete surprise, it was a major watershed moment for her family and business. Marie soon found that the sitters on her own site were no longer able to watch her son.

“I needed someone who understood his behaviors and knew how to react.”

Synapse Sitters was a direct response to a problem Marie knew that other parents with children on the spectrum had just as she did. Marie describes Synapse Sitters as “an online network for parents of children on the autism spectrum and IDDs {intellectual or developmental disability} to connect with specialized sitters.”

While it was tough to close the chapter on Lullaby Sitters after investing so much into the business, Synapse Sitters served a community that Marie felt very connected to now. Much of the work she did creating Lullaby Sitters translated to her new venture, but they are two different businesses with unique challenges.

The market is a lot more niche…

“There is completely different marketing and relationship building with Synapse Sitters. There are often a lot more rules in place,” Marie said. The sitters are made up primarily of ABA {applied behavioral analysis} therapists looking to supplement their income. And it’s important to make sure these individuals are compliant with their employers and their licensing.


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Marie has a very full plate.

In addition to successfully creating two tech start-ups her struggles are reflective of those of most working moms: Guilt about spending enough time with her children, being a good wife, being a good friend, paying enough attention to her daughter who does not have autism. And like most working moms, her greatest struggle is time management. Marie said she started a web-based company so she could always be there for her children. Her husband has no flexibility in his schedule, so Marie enjoyed the flexibility her own career provided. Her days typically start at 5am, and after dropping off her two children at two separate schools, she works all day until the afternoon pick-up. She enjoys the chaos of meals and bed time, and then she’s back to work again until midnight. She chuckles at the mention of needing a vacation and jokes, “What’s a vacation?”

Synapse Sitters - theCityMoms

SynapseSitters.com has already announced its expansion into other markets.

At the start, Marie ended up recruiting 30 sitters in four days thanks to just four emails. A strong start for the company which currently serves the greater Indianapolis area and now registers parents for the service in the Lafayette areas as well. This startup also has plans to further expand to Fort Wayne and the South Bend-Mishawaka area this year as well.

Despite all her success, Marie said the greatest reward is being able to show her children that if you see a problem, it can be solved. And you can be the one to solve it. She truly believes that anyone can bring people together to solve a problem. She is a living example of that philosophy and proof that being a successful entrepreneur and a successful mother aren’t mutually exclusive.

MORE INFO: Log on to SynapseSitters.com to begin your registration process either as a sitter or a parent/caregiver seeking help.

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Megan Bohrer - theCityMoms

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

As a transplant to the Midwest, Megan Bohrer still got excited by the first snow flurries of the season. Although her husband’s job as a private school administrator brought them to the area, Megan recently moved ‘home’ to Atlanta. And damn, we miss her.

When she isn’t chasing after her three children or putting herself through nursing school, Megan enjoys drinking craft beer, photography, playing soccer, and fantasizing about all of the Pinterest projects she will one day complete.

2019-03-14T12:35:59-05:00March 13th, 2019|
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