Building a business from scratch poses incredible challenges. So, for that matter, does becoming a parent if you’re a gay man. Each involves thorough planning, nurturing, the allocation of financial resources and the devotion of a serious amount of time.
In 2008 and 2009, Scott Gatz, the founder and CEO of GayCities and father to 5-year-old Matthew, did both.
In retrospect, he says today, "I probably shouldn't have started a company and had a baby at the same time."
Gatz (photo above, right) and his husband (photo above, left), both 44, have been together 22 years. The two had moved to California in 1998, where they settled and bought a home. They married 10 years later, during the brief window where same-sex marriage was legal before being overturned by Proposition 8.
By the time they married, they were already purusing parenthood.
They had been thinking about it for quite awhile, but never all that seriously. But their careers and lives finally came to a place where they decided to go for it. Seeing their friends’ examples didn’t hurt, either.
“It just felt like the timing was right,” he says. “We started investigating.”
Two babies at once
For Gatz, though, that timing ended up coinciding with other big life events.
He left Yahoo after 10 years at the beginning of 2008. He married and then worked on incorporating GayCities, an LGBT travel website, as he and his husband planned for having a child through surrogacy.
“That was a big transition year in my life,” Gatz says today. “I did joke a lot at the time that I was having two babies at once."
The beginning of both babies’ lives required careful planning. Gatz praises the efforts of his co-workers who helped him start the company, allowing him to have a relatively flexible (but still busy!) schedule.
And right after Matthew was born, Gatz’s husband ended up taking a couple of months off to be at home.
“It wasn't feasible" to take a lot of time off himself, Gatz says. “When you’re founding a company, you're just one of a couple of people. Without you, it just wouldn't work.”
Ultimately, the two then teamed up with another family for a nanny-share program that let them split the cost for quality child care. The other family had a child within a few weeks of Matthew.
"I don't know how we would have done it" without that help, Gatz says. And it meant that Matthew has had a “built-in friend from day one.”
Family and work
As the years have passed, Gatz has worked to balance his dual responsibilities.
One plus has been working as the head of a small, adaptable team. “I can work from home or come into the office later,” he says. "I have the flexibility to do that."
And while Gatz has traditionally been a “later person” – both getting to work late and staying up late – that has changed as Matthew ages. He kept up the night owl schedule for the first year or two of his son’s life, but preschool rearranged things.
Gatz would pick up his son at preschool and then head home. And preschool doesn’t let out at 10 p.m.
"It became a priority to be home for dinner with Matthew and my husband,” he says. Dinner, traditionally at 9 p.m. or later, was moved up to 6 p.m., so it could be shared with the whole family.
And while some friends have made fun of his new hours, Gatz says, “It becomes really important. … There's almost never a night when I'm not home for dinner."
And as Matthew has grown – he just finished kindergarten and will turn 6 this month – Gatz’s online business has flourished.
At the beginning, GayCities had just two employees. By the time Matthew was born, the company had three. Today, there are eight. Another website, Queerty, was added to the company’s portfolio in 2011. Today, it has become the nation’s top LGBT news site.
“We’ve always been good at doing a lot with a little,” he says.
But why go into the field at all? The answer is simple (and to an entrepreneur, irresistible): He saw a need.
"I didn't feel that the state of LGBT media online was what it needed to be,” Gatz says. Watching the company grow has been amazing, he says. “It’s exceeded any of my expectations.”
Just this May there were 10 million visits to the sites. Both are now the leaders in their respective categories. Queerty’s audience, in particular, has more than doubled in two years.
"We've gone from starting from zero in 2008 to being No. 1," he says. And with the team he has in place now, “it’s just gonna grow.”
Partly, that’s because LGBT audiences have been denied their place at the table for far too long. They’re eager to be visible and to connect with other gay people. Websites that cater to them have an important role to play.
"As equality catches up to us in the U.S." he said, "there will always be a desire for a site like Queerty and a site like GayCities."
Challenges to come
There’s still a bit of tension, though, between the life of a successful entrepreneur and that of a father. And Gatz is working to navigate as best he can.
"This summer in particular, I've thought I want to pick him up from camp," Gatz says. "I've felt a really great desire to spend more time with him at this age."
But with the schedule of summer camps, doing so could really cut into his work hours.
And the demands from the business continue. If anything, they increase as more and more employees and customers depend on the company. As an entrepreneur, he's always busy, Gatz says.
That means that each day requires difficult decisions. Sometimes business takes priority; sometimes family does.
Which brings us back to his original advice. Being a parent and starting a business are both worthwhile endeavors. But starting both at the same time can be a challenge. Sometimes, though, you have to do what you have to do.
"The call of being a parent is very loud, as is being an entrepreneur,” Gatz says.