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How Arezou Zarafshan Is Creating a One-Stop-Shop for Working Parents

Arezou Zarafshan

Arezou Zarafshan, Founder and CEO of Call Emmy, is building an on-demand technology marketplace that matches busy parents with local household service providers.

As a corporate executive, consultant, startup advisor, mom, wife, and daughter, Arezou knew she needed help balancing it all. She hired a full-time house manager to support her with all household-related tasks, which ultimately gave her precious time back in her busy life. Yet, when she lost her job and could no longer afford this luxury, she was determined to find an affordable alternative. Thus, Call Emmy was born.

We asked Arezou about the founding story of Call Emmy, how she navigates self-doubt as an entrepreneur, and the advice she’d give her younger self if she were to start her entrepreneurial journey over again. 

Q: Tell us the story behind your company’s founding. How and why did you start working on Call Emmy? 

A: I have always been very career-oriented. When I became a mother, I was an executive at a $1B enterprise and I could afford a full-time house manager and nanny—her name was Emmy. Emmy was my lifesaver. I could be focused on my professional aspirations and be present as a mother because Emmy took care of everything inside my house. When I lost my job and could no longer afford a full-time house manager, everything went down the drain. Fights with my husband over who did more around the house surfaced. Laundry piled up for weeks and takeout dinners became a habit. I was no longer present when spending time with my son because my mind was on my endless to-do list. T​​here had to be a way to make this work for a working parent. Not everyone can afford a full-time home manager but almost everyone can afford a few hours of help here and there. Moreover, I don’t believe anyone, especially mothers, should have to choose between parenthood and their ambitions. 

That is how Call Emmy was born. Call Emmy is the one-stop-shop trusted source of help for any busy parent to rely on. From chores to childcare, we’ve got them covered.

Q: Did you always know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

A: I always knew that I wanted to be a source of positive change in society and that I wanted to do so on my terms. While I very much enjoyed and got an immense amount of experience from my time in corporate America, entrepreneurship allowed me to be bolder and more courageous than I could have ever imagined. I stumbled into entrepreneurship and it turned out to be just the right fit for me.

Q: What’s been the hardest and most rewarding part of your entrepreneurial journey?

A: The hardest and most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur is facing the unknown and staying focused on your mission. When you work for someone else, there are resources available that you can tap into. When working for a big company, there is institutional knowledge and support. As an entrepreneur, you are figuring it out as you go and you have to build, source, and mine the knowledge and expertise that you lack. Though that is the hardest part of the entrepreneurial journey, it has been the most rewarding and satisfying experience.

Q: Have you struggled with self-doubt as an entrepreneur? 

A: Like most entrepreneurs, I struggle with self-doubt. I am constantly haunted by those self-critical questions: “Am I capable enough?” “What if I can’t do this?” “What if it fails?”

When those questions speak loudly at me, I remind myself of two things. First, my voice of doubt is trying to look out for me. Let’s objectively think about what it is warning me against and evaluate options. Second, whatever it is, I can figure it out and one way or another, it will work out.

Though I am not religious, I do believe in spirituality. I believe that the universe rewards perseverance and hard work. That has always been the outcome for me.

Q: We dare you to brag: What achievements are you most proud of?

A: From the business perspective, I took Call Emmy from zero to a projected gross merchandise volume of half a million dollars in a year with minimal resources. But what I am most proud of is how we have helped our customers. Here is one quote from one of our customers that wakes me up every day: “I don't know who Emmy is, but when I called her, she was so helpful and accommodating. I just love her! If changing lives was your goal when you dreamed up Call Emmy, you have succeeded. I can't thank you enough for creating this service!”


Q: Have you discovered any underappreciated leadership traits or misconceptions around leadership?

A: The biggest misconception about leadership in entrepreneurship is that the leader has to do it all. I believe that the job of a leader is to set clear objectives for the team and help them with what they need in order to meet those objectives. This principle is often practiced in large companies. But in a startup setting, many people in positions of leadership believe that if they are not intimately involved with every decision, they are not leading. In my view, being involved in every aspect of running the business, when one has a team, is the opposite of leadership. 

Q: What would you tell your younger self if you were to start your entrepreneurial journey all over again?

A: Today is the day. The right time is now. Start your entrepreneurial journey this very second.

Arezou is a member of Dreamers & Doers, a private collective that amplifies the entrepreneurial pursuits of extraordinary women through thought leadership opportunities, authentic connection, and access. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and subscribe to their monthly The Digest for top entrepreneurial and career resources.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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Gesche Haas

Gesche Haas is the Founder/CEO of Dreamers & Doers, a private collective that amplifies the entrepreneurial pursuits of extraordinary women through visibility opportunities, resource exchange, and collective support.

Read Gesche's Bio