Nurturing Babies and Businesses
For someone who babysat more than 2,500 times, Genevieve Thiers '00 knows a lot about care and nurturing—of businesses. Thiers is founder and CEO of Chicago-based Sittercity.com, a multimillion-dollar online service that links babysitters and parents nationwide.
The idea for her business originated in her dorm room, when Thiers saw a mother-to-be struggling up stairs to distribute flyers advertising her babysitting needs. Launched in 2001, Sittercity.com is now an Inc. 500 company, and Thiers recently established a new business incubator to help other women create their own startups—a nod to the help she received from the Chicago Women's Business Development Center, which helped her venture blossom.
"Many women don't realize that the troublesome issues facing them every day are opportunities for big business," she says. "Every time there is an inconvenience for someone, there is an opportunity for someone else. Anything can be your golden ticket—you just have to see it."
Below, Thiers shares some additional thoughts on her success:
What is the most satisfying moment in your professional life?
Being named Small Business Administration Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2006. It was a wonderful weekend in Washington, D.C., that culminated with a speech by the president.
In your personal life?
I've managed to become a professional opera singer as well as an entrepreneur. I recently sang live on WFMT in Chicago, and I've done many local operas and concerts.
What is your best BC memory?
Singing the part of Lily in The Secret Garden in Robsham Theater.
What is your next goal?
A TV show, another company, Broadway, Shakespeare . . . whoever would have me.
What is one thing everyone should do while at BC?
Go abroad for junior year.
How have you changed since graduation?
For me, managing the real world is much easier than managing college. College often seemed overwhelming, but when I got out, things were more like, "That's it? You just create something people want, and they buy it from you? Awesome."
Why did you decide to attend BC?
I was a National Merit Scholar, so that was part of it, but I also really liked the music department. It's hard not to fall in love with Gasson Hall, too.
What is the secret to success?
If I figure that out, I'll probably try to monetize it, so stay tuned to see what future companies I create.
Where is your favorite spot on the Heights?
Robsham Theater. Every time I visit, the smells bring me back to when I performed there.
What would you do if you were BC president for a day?
Probably give everyone a day off. But that's all I dream about these days—free time.
What was your first job?
As the oldest of seven kids, I've been babysitting since the age of eight.
Where did you live during freshman year?
I lived in a triple in Fitzpatrick. The funny thing is, while freshmen all around me were moaning about getting a triple, I was not fazed in the least. It was fewer people than at home, so I felt like it was rather private.
How do you relax?
Well, neither singing opera nor creating a company is relaxing, so I guess that it would be one of my other hobbies. Either writing or photography.
What was your favorite BC class?
My A&S honors class with Professor Susan Michalczyk.
What do you look forward to each day?
Having nothing worrisome sitting in my e-mail when I get in.
What was your favorite BC activity?
Performing in the University Chorale and Robsham Theater shows with the help of [Director of University Chorale] John Finney, [part-time music faculty member] Michael Burgo, and [Director of Robsham Theater Arts Center] Howard Enoch.
What is something your friends don’t know about you?
I used to be Big Bird at Sesame Place theme park in Pennsylvania.
How much can you sing of the BC fight song?
Hilariously, I can't even remember it, and I am a singer. Shame on me! But I did sing the national anthem at the 2000 graduation ceremony, which was very nerve-racking. I hope I got all the words to that right, at least.
Who would play you in the film version of your life?
Probably Meryl Streep. She'd be the only one to get all the quirks right.
What was the best meal at the BC dining hall?
Anything. When you come from a family with seven kids, the closest to gourmet it ever gets is boiled frozen veggies.