EDDIE CATZ BLOG

Interview with Jennie Browne, creator of Mumdergound app

Interview with Jennie Browne, creator of Mumdergound app
If you live in the London area, you may have heard of a mobile app called Mumderground.  This innovative app allows parents to negotiate their way around the London Underground system by informing them of the accessibility of each station on their chosen route through the network.
We wanted to hear more about the brain behind the app, so we talked to her ourselves.
Jennie Browne, 37, is a mum to two boys, Leo, 5 and 5-month old Oliver.  Originally born and raised in Coventry, she moved to the States when she was 13 before moving back to London at 26.  She resided there for 10 years before recently hopping back over the pond to live in Brooklyn, NY and now the San Francisco area in California.  She started iPhone development when her first son was born and needed to figure out how to get back into work with more flexibility than she’d previously had, as she was previously  a web developer working on large scale web sites.  Mumderground was her first iPhone project, and  since then she’s gone on to work on other parent-related iPhone apps.
Jennie Browne of Mumderground app
Here’s what Jennie had to say about her Mumderground journey.
What sparked the idea of Mumderground?
I found that using the Underground was really challenging with a pushchair and I wanted to be able to see ahead of time what the accessibility was for each station (do they have lifts, escalators etc?).  There was nothing out there so I decided to create one.
How long did it take you to gather information from all of the stations?
About 3/4 months.  It was painful to gather all of that information.  I had crazy spreadsheets to collect it all.
How difficult was it to find out information about each station on the underground network?
It was hard work.  There isn’t much online.  Some of the more complicated stations such as Baker Street and Embankment – I just walked around with a notebook and pen noting down the different interchange journeys etc.
How much technical help did you need to create the app?
I didn’t need any as I created it myself.  I was previously a web developer and moving to iPhone development wasn’t a steep learning curve.  My husband is a designer and helped me with the logo (which I’d sketched on a piece of paper!)
Do you feel that there is an increase in parents – particularly mothers – creating their own businesses following the births of their children?
I think so as its so hard to find flexible work.  I didn’t want my son to be in nursery for long hours but finding flexible work was pretty challenging.  I have since found that iPhone development tends to lend more toward flexible working arrangements as you can work remotely, and shorter days (obviously depending on the project).
What do you think of the term ‘mumpreneur’?
I think its a great term.  I know it rubs some up the wrong way, but it is definitely a valid movement with very unique requirements.  It’s very relevant right now for all the mums looking to find a balance with parenthood and work. Not finding those opportunities easily in the workforce forces us to look elsewhere and come up with our own business ideas that fit with our schedules.
What feedback have you had from users of Mumderground?
I’ve had loads of positive feedback.  I have parents emailing me with updates to stations where lifts have been installed.  Or just thanking me for creating it.  I have also had someone say it’s sexist (the name).  It’s really just a funny play on the name ‘Underground’.
What are your thoughts on travelling on public transport in London with buggies in general?
It’s very very hard.  I know a lot of mums avoid it altogether.  I would say the buses are very buggy friendly in comparison to buses in other cities all over the world, but the tube network is not buggy friendly. 
What is the least accessible station on the network?
Embankment is pretty awful.
What is the worst experience you’ve had travelling on the underground with your buggy?
I don’t have one particular experience, but any time I’ve been on the tube during rush hour, it’s pretty awful.  I would say that almost every time I’ve been stuck with the buggy at the bottom of a large set of stairs someone almost always offers to help.
Where do you see yourself and Mumderground in a year’s time?
I’ve been letting Mumderground just run its course as I have been working on other projects (Mumderground is about 4 years old).  Now that I’ve moved out of London I rely on parents to email with updates.  I release new versions of Mumderground every so often (not as often as I’d like just due to time restraints.  I’ve just had another baby!).  I know people have requested that it would be great for Mumderground to include journey planning which is a consideration.
Mumderground
Thank-you to Jennie for giving us the low-down on your Mumderground journey.  You can follow Mumgerground on Twitter at @mumderground as well as downloading the Mumderground app from Apple App Store (and back again soon on the Google Play Store).

Parents of two amazing teens, entrepreneurs and creators of Eddie Catz. Trying to juggle parenthood and work and be sufficiently cool not to be "de-friended" by our kids on social media. Can mostly be found at Eddie Catz HQ. Side jobs include delivering the bouncy castle, fetching helium cannisters, facepainting, toilet unblocking and lightbulb changing.

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