Justine Roberts is the founder and CEO of British websites Mumsnet and Gransnet. Justine came up with the idea of Mumsnet whilst on a disastrous family holiday with her one-year old twins in which she realised that being able to tap into the wisdom of other parents online could help make parents’ lives much easier. Once home she roped in friends Carrie Longton and Steven Cassidy to help build and run the site but for the first five years of Mumsnet, launched in the eye of the dotcom collapse, the company was unprofitable. Justine was only able to raise a small amount of seed capital from friends, so no one was able to draw a salary for five years and Justine’s mother helped out with the childcare. But as user numbers grew, so did the advertising.
By 2008 the company was big enough to move from Justine’s kitchen table into its own offices in Kentish Town and now employs nearly 100 people. In spirit of Justine’s passion for helping mothers make the most out of their lives, Mumsnet has been organising live events such as Mumsnet WorkFest, providing mothers with advice and inspiration on going back to work, changing careers, or starting their own businesses.
Today the site is the first port of call for many new mothers and fathers, receiving over 14 million visits a month. It generates revenue through advertising, sponsorship and market research. The website has a prominent role in national political debate and leading politicians take part in regular webchats. The site’s ability to draw the party leaders to answer member’s questions led to the 2010 General Election being named the ‘Mumsnet election’. The site has also run high profile campaigns on a range of issues including the sexualisation of childhood – ‘Let Girls Be Girls’ – and to improve services for those who have an early miscarriage and has also started a family friendly Jobs classified site. Justine was named in the Media Guardian’s 2010 power 100, was voted number 7 in BBC Woman’s Hour’s “Power List 2013” of the most powerful women in the UK and was runner up in Veuve Cliquot’s businesswomen of the year 2014.
Justine Roberts was featured in Inspiring Fifty: Europe 2015.