Sheri Atwood was an executive in Silicon Valley when she found herself navigating a divorce and the realities of co-parenting. Like others who go through a separation with a child, she and her ex were given official court documents around custody, child support, and shared expenses.
But there was a big problem around executing those documents.
“When it comes to actually managing those things, that’s left up to the parents,” said Atwood.
For her, that meant phone calls interrupting her at work and lengthy conversations with her ex about dollars spent on medical, education, childcare, and extracurricular activities.
“It turned into a full-time job just trying to manage co-parenting with him,” she added. “I was simply looking for a solution myself and was shocked that there was nothing out there.”
Like most entrepreneurs, she decided to address this gap in the market with her own tech-enabled solution.
SupportPay was born to be akin to an “expense report” for child support.
On top of being a financial management tool, Atwood said that Support Pay works as a “true management system” for divorced parents, single parents (and even pet parents who share custody of a dog post break-up).
As a FinTech, LegalTech, and communication platform wrapped into one, SupportPay aims to “take away all the emotions, all the questions” associated with co-parenting. Putting all communication into one app can lead to less disruptions at work and can “get rid of a lot of tense or conflict-ridden conversations,” Atwood added.
Hitting the B2B Market For Employee Benefits
SupportPay’s direct-to-parent platform has garnered around 65,000 users to date. Its total addressable market is massive, as the US has 10.6 million single-parent households, according to the most recent data collected by the Census Bureau.
Along with working directly with parents, Atwood and the team saw a growing need to help companies with single parents in their workforce.
“When it comes to benefits, [companies] help you get pregnant, help with adoption and fertility; they give you time off when you have the kid, and they help you with retirement at the end. But once a parent is divorced, there’s very few benefits that directly help them and really help their productivity,” Atwood told Hypepotamus. “While [companies] are talking a lot about caregiving, they’re not talking about helping caregivers – especially parents – manage their finances and custody.”
Atwood pointed to one B2B client that saw a 6.2% utilization of the platform within its employee base which led to a multi-million dollar savings in productivity costs.
That cost savings is something that any company would like to see. But Atwood said SupportPay is also a way for businesses to put money behind DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) efforts.
“We hear constantly is: Wow, we say we support diversity and inclusion, we say we support all workers and then we look at the metrics and we realize, wait a second…working parents, single or divorced or step parents, are completely ignored.”
The Southeast and Employee Benefits
While Atwood started the company in Sacramento, she moved herself and the headquarters to Charlotte, North Carolina.
Since the move, the SupportPay has grown with a remote-first employee base with people in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and internationally in Guatemala and India.
Atwood said she is focused on expanding its hiring efforts in the Southeast and embracing the region’s entrepreneurial scene.
The region has become somewhat of a hub for HRTech and employee benefits-related ventures. Startups like OnPay (Atlanta), SavvyFi (Nashville), Keep Financial (Atlanta), Oyster HR (Charlotte), Disclo (Atlanta), and Panther (Tampa) are some of the local startups that have raised VC funding since 2020.
But SupportPay is hyper focused on employee benefits for overlooked single working parents.
Since the startup is building a “Modern Family Financial Platform,” Atwood said down the line the platform will look to support other family arrangements, be it children taking care of older parents or households blending multiple generations under one roof.