CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Kate Morgan, Founder & Co-CEO at Eggy

Kate Morgan is the founder and co-CEO at Eggy, an app that helps users manage all their life admin in the one place.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I never set out to build an app or to be a founder of a tech company. It was more a case of  “well, no one else is going to do this so we’ll have to!” My first career was as a health professional. I’m a lover of science and food so I did my undergrad in nutrition and dietetics.

After a stint as a corporate dietitian consulting to big food companies, I moved into academia as a dietetics lecturer at Bond University. I was working full time and doing my PhD part-time, amongst having 2 (of 3) kids. Then Eggy “happened”. 

Kirk and I founded Eggy in 2018. We’re the Co-CEOs – at work and at home. Although, Kirk often jokes that “We all know that Katie’s the real boss.” I never thought that us working closely together would’ve ended in anything other than divorce but when you’ve put everything on the line and you don’t have a Plan B, you kind of just get on with it.

We split the responsibilities based on our strengths and what we like to do. Kirk’s a numbers nerd and I’m a words person. He takes care of the financial, commercial, funding, operational side of things, while I look after marketing, research, community engagement and user support.

We both do a bit of product management and stakeholder engagement, and we work really closely with our incredible team. When it comes to the big decisions about Eggy, we do that together after collaborating with our team and our advisors. We see things differently so that usually results in a sound decision (most of the time anyway!).

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

A workday in a startup is ridiculously dynamic – even though you project manage and plan your tasks for the day/week, it can change. Throw a baby and a couple of kids and a pandemic into the mix and well, you just have to do your best and get stuff done – always be making progress.

In saying that, Kirk and I frequently check in on each other about our priorities. When you’re being pulled apart and you’ve got so many competing priorities, you really have to do your best to work on what’s most important. There’s no time for inefficiencies in this game.

At the moment, my day usually starts around 4am when the baby (Reggie) wakes up and ends with me falling into bed around midnight. Even if I’ve worked through the day, I like to work at night too once the kids go to bed.

I find I can focus well once they’re asleep. While I’d love to be getting a few more zzz’s, one thing that I really try to prioritise is my health. I go for a run or do a quick workout most mornings. I need to for my mental health and it sets me up for a more productive day.

Having been a dietitian, I know the value of fuelling my body so I try to eat reasonably well. 80/20 rule. Ish! If I do these things, I feel good and so I’m a better person, mother, worker etc. Good work comes from feeling good first – physically and mentally.

It’s difficult to describe a normal day, especially as I’m transitioning out of the “newborn stage” but Kirk and I generally share the responsibility with the kids and with Eggy. One does drop offs, the other does pick-ups. One does this meeting, the other does that meeting. That kind of thing.

Some days I’ll work from home, other days, I’ll go into the office. I love going into the office though. I’ve always loved the corporate environment and having that separation from home makes me feel more in the zone and more productive. 

We’re taking Eggy to a hard launch in Feb 2022 so there’s no shortage of things to do right now! Generally speaking though the day is usually a mix of meetings (internal and external) as well as doing the work. I can have a meeting with Kirk, followed by a tech team meeting, followed by a meeting with our marketing team.

I might also do an interview with an Eggy power user, plus create some content for socials and prepare an update for our shareholders. We often get to go to events for founders and startups on the Gold Coast. It’s a really good scene here at the moment with some great things happening in the startup community. We’re so blessed to live and work where we do. 

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

Having three kids and an early stage tech startup, we’d be dead if we didn’t have flexibility. The Eggy office is only 5 minutes’ drive from our home so we can easily switch between working from home or being on site as needed. 

Eggy was born in remote work and so fortunately, the whole COVID situation really didn’t change things too much for us.

Because we’re a SaaS product and the only equipment that’s really required to work on Eggy is a PC and software, our whole team can be flexible.

Fortunately most of Team Eggy are based on the Gold Coast or Brisbane, so we can all come together for meetings as required. 

We try to do all our project planning face-to-face which happens every couple of weeks. It’s also just nice to hang out and have organic conversations with each other, rather than staring at faces on a screen. 

While we check in on a daily basis with the team and have regular standups, we’re trying to work more asynchronously which is going well. Less meetings, more outcomes.

We’ve got an awesome bunch of people helping us build Eggy. They’re so important to Eggy’s mission and are all purpose-driven – I can’t emphasise how much we love them and how grateful we are to have such superstars in our team.

We genuinely like hanging out together so while we all love ripping in to get stuff done, we also have a lot of laughs. It mostly involves me rolling my eyes at Kirk’s bad jokes.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I’m a big believer in being happy and fulfilled in whatever it is you’re doing. 

My life is pretty crazy but I love it and I’m very fulfilled. 

I think the concept of work-life balance was popular around the time that technology was becoming ubiquitous. I think it also implies that there’s some sort of tangible metric attached to it, like time. 

For example, if you spend 8 hours working, 8 hours doing personal/family stuff, and 8 hours sleeping, then you’ll be in balance. That doesn’t float for me. 

I could be working 4 hours a day and be completely unfulfilled or I could be working 12 hours a day and be loving it fully sick.

These days, personal and professional lives run in parallel. It’s pretty hard to separate the two.

Especially when you’re a business owner and a startup founder. We’re hungry to make Eggy win and we’ve got so much we want to achieve. 

When you’re purpose driven and you love what you do, you do whatever it takes. No matter the hours. 

I also think it’s important to be reflective and conscious of what you’re doing though. To have a gauge on yourself to know when things are getting too out of control. If you’ve got good, supportive people around you too, they’ll help keep you on track.

If I was working way too much and not spending much time with the kids or letting my health slide, I’d expect Kirk to pull me up and say ‘Wake up to yourself’. I’d do the same to him. The kids would too. Kids are pretty good life coaches.

I love spending time with my kids. They’re by far the best thing I’ve done in my life. We always try to hang out with them and have family time on the weekends. They drive you bloody crazy at times but god damn you love them hard.

Having all the success in life is pretty pointless if you’ve got no one to share it with.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

I had our third child about four months ago so pregnancy and rearing a baby has kind of dominated the last 12 months. I do have a story about 2020 though.

For us and the stage we were at with Eggy, 2019 was a pretty rough year. 

We were riding the roller coaster, surviving on such little sleep (our middle child just did not like to sleep) plus we were travelling up to Brisbane every week on the train (with prams and suitcases and portacots) to make the most of Eggy’s three months with Suncorp. 

We didn’t have a product out in the market yet and the team was made up of contractors who were mostly remote.

It was also the year that both Kirk and I and a lot of our friends turned 40. So lots of parties. Needless to say, we drank a lot that year.

So when 2020 rolled around, we thought we’d try to give up drinking for a whole 12 months. 

Not that we were alcoholics but we definitely had some habits that weren’t conducive to healthy living nor to getting a tech startup off the ground.

And not that we had any idea that the pandemic was about to explode but it actually turned out well for us.

Social gatherings were really limited and lots of people were spending a lot of time at home and relying on technology more – us included!

Giving up drinking for the year was a really powerful exercise. I felt so much better – in control, clear headed, more energy, just better able to deal with adverse situations. I actually didn’t miss it after a while.

Funnily enough, I found out the day before we were due to break our drinking ban that I was pregnant with Reggie. That’s another story!

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I’d really love to say that I read books and listen to podcasts but amongst the kids and Eggy and running a household and being a wife/daughter/sister/aunty/friend and trying to get 5 minutes to look after myself, I just don’t make the time for it. 

Also I think reading the hundreds of journal articles that I had to for my PhD cured my reading bug for a good decade or so.

I can tell you though about the book that created a lightbulb moment for us with Eggy and that’s The Organised Mind by neuroscientist Daniel Levitin. 

It’s based on research that shows how our brains aren’t equipped to handle the deluge of information that gets thrown at them every day. 

The evidence says that if we can take that info out of our heads and get it into some sort of organised, visible system, it frees up brain space to help us focus on the more important things in life.

While I’m not the best bookworm, I do spend a lot of time consuming content that our audience consumes. It’s so important for us to never forget who we’re building Eggy for and we need to know what’s important for them. 

It also helps with our messaging and our communications for Eggy. We just want to relate to the everyday person because that’s just what we are – a mum and dad doing their best to make a better life.

Our target market for Eggy is busy mums and busy parents and busy people in general. So when I crawl into bed at midnight and I’m trying to keep my eyes open as I scroll through socials, it’s all in the name of research!

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Full bias acknowledged but I genuinely think that I’ve managed to keep my head above water over the last couple of years because of Eggy.

I like to say it’s created by tech nufties for tech nufties. We had no idea about how to build an app when we first started Eggy and we were incredibly naive to how complex and challenging it is, but we knew we needed to keep things simple and easy enough for the everyday person.

There’s a lot of products out there that claim to help you manage your life admin but a lot of them are just so complex and hard to use that it makes things even more challenging for your poor, scrambled brain so you just give up.

As far as other products, for work there are probably three things I can’t live without now – Slack (for communication), Notion (for project management) and Canva (for creating visual content).

Apart from my phone, I’m not really into gadgets. I’m a pretty simple being but also, we don’t really have much budget for them at the moment.

And I’m sure I could live without coffee if I absolutely had to but I wouldn’t want to. I only have 1-2 per day but it helps me open my eyes and gives me a good little pump to get the day underway.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?   

I really don’t get much out of hearing about how the squillionaires live. 

I’m sure that Elon and Geoff have interesting lives and routines but people who have almost unlimited resources probably have different challenges than what I do!

I’d rather hear from someone who’s more relatable, who’s still in the arena having a crack, and who’s come up against some big challenges and found a way to push through and get a result.

Also, I don’t really go looking for advice. I just enjoy hearing from and learning from people with interesting stories. If I like and relate to what they say, then I think about how I could apply their experience to my life.

I haven’t heard many stories from mothers of young kids who are running tech companies, especially at an early stage like Eggy, but I’d love to so if there are any out there, please get them on!

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I think most people are just out there doing their best. And there’s no limit to the amount of advice that’s available these days so I don’t want to tell others what to do but I can talk to what works for me.

I’m nothing without my health and so I have to make that a priority. It might take an extra 30 minutes out of my day to go for a run, but I know I’ll be a better person, mum and CEO for it.

Having incredible humans around me makes such a difference too. I genuinely couldn’t do what I do without Kirk (my husband and Co-CEO), our team and my family (my kids, siblings, parents and friends).

Finally, I’ve found that if you’re working on something that’s close to your heart and you’re trying to solve a problem that you’ve experienced yourself, you’ll be fulfilled.

I hate life admin. I want to destroy it. For me and for millions of other busy people. 

Building Eggy has been the most challenging thing I’ve done in my professional life but it’s also the most fulfilling.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.