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APRIL WHITLOCK mother and entrepreneur | August 2014

unning a thriving startup is no small feat. Throw in three children, and life can get hectic in a heartbeat. But not for April Whitlock, CEO of Fundanoodle, an education readiness program designed to build and improve fine motor skills. This Charlotte mom has found a way to be successful while raising three young children. Fundanoodle offers a full product line that ranges from writing tablets to multi-activity kits. The product is available at Toys “R” Us, from online retailers and directly from the company’s website. Whitlock began her career with Grey Advertising in Chicago, then returned to Charlotte to work with Lending Tree. Next, she launched the Charlotte office of Mom Corps, where she was recruited for a marketing role with Carolina Pad, a wellknown supplier of school and office products. In each of her previous jobs,Whitlock learned something that she now uses to manage Fundanoodle. She gained valuable expertise in advertising and marketing, which is essential to running her business, but she says her position with Lending Tree proved the most helpful. “My first startup experience with Lending Tree is the foundation I go back to,” she says. “With the unpredictability of the economy, I learned that everything has to change. You can have a five-year vision, but often those plans don’t work out. It’s better to work in 90-day increments. This has served me well as a mom and as the CEO of a startup.” Whitlock describes herself as a “closet entrepreneur without an idea.” While overseeing Fundanoodle for Carolina Pad, she realized that it was a great product that would work well on its own, so she began to write a business plan. “I knew I was on the right track when the owner of Carolina Pad said he wanted to be my first equity investor,” she says. “In 2013, I raised the capital needed to make Fundanoodle an independent company.” She has enjoyed a fruitful first year. Now, Whitlock wants to

get Fundanoodle products into classrooms. “Teachers love our products, and they are very costeffective,” she says. “They could easily be funded by parent groups.” Her family’s involvement — and enjoyment — with Fundanoodle contributes to her success. She says the product is everywhere in her home. “My children are testers, models and muses,” she notes. “The coolest part for me is when they get excited to see our products advertised or on a store shelf. I want them to see that they can do anything.” Whitlock offers advice for managing the demanding roles of CEO and mom. “Compartmentalize,” she says. “If you have three hours for work, everything else is off the table. Then stop and deal with your family.” She also says it’s important to lean on others. “My husband is amazing and flexible, and I rely on so many of my friends. They are generous with their time and willing to help.” Whitlock also takes care of herself, and makes exercise an important part of her day. “I learned very early that I’m not nice if I don’t sweat it out. Not only can I clear my head, think and brainstorm, one of the best ways to hold a business meeting is to walk the greenway with other female entrepreneurs.” Whitlock also makes time to do things she loves, like attending Broadway Lights shows with friends and exploring uptown Charlotte with her family. She adds, “My faith is important to me. I have to trust that this is the plan God wants for me, and that He will get me through the bumps.” Whitlock realizes the importance of taking care of her community, as well. She finds fulfillment in volunteering and looks for places that Fundanoodle can make a difference, which is one reason she partners with The Lunch Project and Project Lift. “I’m a social entrepreneur, which means I’m creating a company that has a culture of embassy and philanthropy. I believe in the triple bottom line: evaluate your process for profit, what you’re doing for people and for the planet. This model is going to change the world.” — Nicole Ayers


Today's Charlotte Woman  
Today's Charlotte Woman  

A Charlotte NC magazine targeted to women.