Events / / Women in tech

How Joanne Lang and a bunch of moms built AboutOne into an online force

At a recent Startup Grind Philadelphia event, AboutOne CEO Joanne Lang sketched out her startup's path, including the importance of its "Comeback Mom program."

Raising a family with four kids while running a tech startup is an impressive task, one that Joanne Lang knows well.

She started out working in information technology at SAP, traveling the world to help the Newtown Square, Pa.-based software giant acquire users of its cloud technology. While working at SAP, Lang found it very hard to keep track of medications for her children along with the information needed for doctors and hospitals.

“That’s when I came up with the idea for AboutOne,” said Lang. She was frustrated with not having a dashboard for her family’s medical information. “I wanted to make it easy for Walgreens to have my medical information with the push of a button,” Lang said.

As a first-time entrepreneur she read every book from Eric Ries to Steve Blanks, and used all the lean startup methodologies she could find.

“Having a tech background, I spent some time building a minimum viable product using Ruby on Rails and Amazon,” she said. “It was kind of a virtual filing cabinet at first.”

What took things to the next level, Lang said, was being the only female founder to present at a 2011 Venturebeat conference.

“Once I reached a certain level of visibility I decided it was time to raise a seed round,” Lang said.

She started networking in Philadelphia, attending as many technology events as she could find. Lang found it very difficult to raise money in Philadelphia at first, but she was able to make a lot of connections.

“One of the best connections I made was with Alan Kraus of Ben Franklin Technology Partners,” said Lang. “Alan kept telling me that I needed to work on my idea and that it wasn’t ready yet, and he kept pointing me in the right direction for people who could help.”

When the idea was right, Kraus’s Ben Franklin stepped in, investing $100,000 in the company (and then another $200,000 in 2013.)

One of the techniques Lang came up with in her early days was called the “Comeback Moms.”

“I was able to find moms like me who were in the middle of a hiatus from work, and needed to fill their resume with more skills,” she explained. That meant high-quality labor at discounted salary, Lang said. The moms helped the startup grow, while Lang offered the flexible hours they needed.

That laid the groundwork for future success.

“With 1 million users and growing, we are dedicating most of our time to sales and marketing, which is our biggest challenge right now,” Lang said.

AboutOne has already raised $4 million.

Companies: AboutOne
People: Joanne Lang
Projects: Startup Grind DC

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