The Rise Of PANKs And What That Means For Startup Culture

PANK

No, PANK isn’t another way of saying pink in a country accent. PANK is a new acronym used to describe a market of women that, until now, have been overlooked. It stands for Professional Aunt, No Kids; a term coined by Melanie Notkin founder of SavvyAuntie.com to describe her websites demographic. PANKs are digital influencers like myself who play a financially meaningful role in the lives of other people’s kids, are active on social media and influence the purchasing decisions of those around them.

Why is the rise of PANKs important?

The rise of PANKs is important because we live in a world that is obsessed with when a woman becomes a mother. No matter what she has achieved career wise, in pop culture becoming a mother is still the greatest thing a female can do with her life. It’s created a societal standard that women, even highly successful ones like Jennifer Aniston, should be looked down upon because they are not mothers.

The PANK acronym shows that a shift is starting to happen in our society. No longer are career driven women being called childless spinsters. Instead, we now have a term that celebrates this childless status and acknowledges that women who choose this alternative lifestyle play a major role and have untapped influence and purchasing power.

PANKs, Startups and Entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia

Over the past few years, there has been a steady rise of female-lead startups. I had started Mailbird before I turned 30, and there are numerous other success stories of other female Southeast Asia entrepreneurs doing amazing things and disrupting gender and business norms.

I wanted to dive deeper and see how this new demographic is influencing Southeast Asia women and how it will undoubtedly affect our budding startup culture. A 2015 study by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor reported that Southeast Asia has become one of the most entrepreneurial regions in the world, and this status will only be cemented in the coming decades.

More and more people under the age of 30 are being encouraged to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. Forbes highlights this trend with their annual 30 Under 30 nominations. In Southeast Asia, I predict we will start to see the PANKs demographic explode as more women are encouraged and given access to entrepreneurship skills and resources.

The PANKs Influence Over Female Entrepreneurs

As women start investing more time into building their own business, they are going to have less time to meet the societal pressure to settle down and have kids by 30.

Besides the societal pressure in this region to get married and have kids, there is a cultural subset that by the age of 30 it’s time to settle down before your biological clock implodes. In Asia, if you need to enter motherhood on the cusp of your third decade, you need to invest time into finding a suitable partner. Time is the most precious thing when it comes to launching a startup venture. So this is where PANKs presents an alternative lifestyle for more women in Southeast Asia who are business professionals and entrepreneurs.

PANK
Tracy Young speaking about her startup baby, PlanGrid at TechCrunch Disrupt

For many founders, their startup is their child. With time being the most precious thing when it comes to launching a successful startup venture, PANKs represents an excellent alternative lifestyle for focused career women in Southeast Asia who aren’t ready to juggle the responsibilities of motherhood and the demands of the business world.

It is absolutely possible and even applauded for women who are able to run a startup as a mother with children. There is also the ugly side that if not balanced well, it can easily lead to burnout. Startup culture encompasses high learning curves, the ability to move anywhere, low living costs and infinite work hours. Throw the heavy responsibility of motherhood into the mix, that is a steep mountain to climb and the incredible women out there who do it deserve recognition in taking on some of the two most challenging things in life: starting a business and becoming a parent.

For many founders, their startup is their child.

Targeting PANKs as a Demographic

Our deep dive into social networks has revealed vibrant communities of women who aren’t moms. They are groups – like PANKs – that are well worth a marketer’s attention.” – Leslie Gaines-Ross, Chief Reputation Strategist, Weber Shandwick

Even if you aren’t a PANK yourself, if you want to get ahead of the curve, it’s time to consider how your business can target this influential demographic. According to research in the Digital Women Influencers Study, PANKs have a higher rate of full-time employment and are twice as likely to be single than other women. For marketers, it means this segment has a larger disposable income as they don’t have to stretch their income to support dependents.

Also, if your startup business targets kids or parents, this is even more reason to start paying attention to this segment. According to the report, PANKs wield influence over both kids and their parents. Nearly 68% report to be a role model for the kids in their lives, and 67% say they are sought out by friends for advice on a broad range of topics regarding purchasing decisions.

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PANK
The 14 principals of PANKs

Redefining Single Career Driven Women

With nearly two-thirds of PANKs reporting that they are glad they aren’t parents themselves, this demographic is reclaiming the word “aunt” from its old-fashioned, stuffy clutches and breathing new life into the word. Aunts are now successful women with disposable income who are disrupting and crushing the business world.

It’s a demographic that is giving birth to a new generation of trailblazing female startup founders and executives. These women are unapologetic when it comes to achieving their career goals, These women are unhindered by fulfilling gender roles and societal norms. I for one, cannot wait to see more PANKs enter and challenge the current ecosystem within the business world.
This post was originally published on Forbes.com as republished here, with permission of the author Andrea Loubier. 
  • Kate H

    I had no idea there was not only an acronym for me, but that there are enough women like me that we’re becoming an important demographic! Woo hoo! Seriously, reading this was so exciting. Thank you for sharing 🙂

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