An Obligation To Help Each Other

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There are so many ways to support each other – even signing up for each other’s apps and giving feedback is invaluable. We should all help each other. By Joanne Lang (Founder & CEO, AboutOne)

AboutOne would not be where it is today without the support I received early on from Philly Startup Leaders (PSL). This group of like-minded entrepreneurs gave me invaluable advice and contacts.

Gloria Bell and Tracey Welson-Rossman are key members of this organization who have given selflessly of their time, so when they invited me to speak at the Philadelphia Women in Tech Summit, I was thrilled to return the favor.

The first ever Philadelphia Women in Tech Summit convened this weekend at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. With support from PSL, the event was organized by Tracey Welson-Rossman, Gloria Bell, Kimberly Gress, Amy Larrimore, Yasmine Mustafa, and Pam Selle as an opportunity to connect women involved in all facets of technology in the Philadelphia area.

Did you know that the very first computer program was developed by a woman in the mid 1800s? Ada Lovelace was the daughter of poet Lord Byron. Did you also know that women invented the cooking stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, ironing board, Apgar test, circular saw, Scotchgard, fire escapes, liquid paper, the windshield wiper, and the life raft? Women have always been change makers.

It appears that I am only one of three women in tech from Philly who received funding from Philadelphia investors. Given this and the philanthropic nature of AboutOne, it is my personal goal to help other women entrepreneurs – especially in Philadelphia.

In preparation for my talk at the Women in Tech Summit, I started thinking nonstop about content that would be interesting and inspiring to other women: while I was running, bathing my kids, you name it. Every time I thought of a lesson I could share, I jotted it down and then made a PowerPoint slide. On the eve of the conference, I opened up my presentation and laughed. It included every single thing I wanted to pass on to other women in tech, and it was a mile long. While AboutOne began its go live launch at 9pm Friday, I used every break from testing Version 2 to edit the slides – we finished our go live at 5am! No sleep for the AboutOne team that night.

This weekend wasn’t just a chance for me to share my perspective as a female CEO for a tech startup; Saturday was the day we launched an all new beta version of our app.

My team at AboutOne (which includes many local Philadelphia women) has been incorporating a year’s worth of customer feedback to create this new version of our online organizer and the companion mobile apps. With these, we have set the stage to turn your phone into a remote control for everyday tasks. And we’ve added online filing and reporting to our users’ existing calendar and contact tools, which will provide fast, easy access to family memories and household paperwork, as well as so many other things we help you organize and manage. It was brilliant to be able to make the announcement of our launch at the Women in Tech Summit. AboutOne is technology that empowers the CEOs of families, many of whom are women.

As the CEO of a startup, I have been to my fair share of conferences – both to learn and to teach. Still, there is something inherently special and unique about being in a gathering of nearly 200 women. I was happy to share so that other companies and individuals can grow.

There are so many ways to support each other – even signing up for each other’s apps and giving feedback is invaluable. We should all help each other.

The tech conference began with inspiring words by Kimberly Gress and then broke off into panels or workshops. Every hour, the attendees had the option of attending a hands-on experience of technology. There were sessions on how to break things, open data, and responsive design. The panels covered topics such as adapting and thriving in a world of technology, an inspiring session on mentors and mentoring, and a final panel about giving back.

This conference was groundbreaking in so many ways. Even the approach to audience involvement was different. Of course the audience was invited to ask questions of speakers and panelists, but with so many smart and experienced women in the audience, several chimed in with their own words of wisdom or considerations. As for the presentations – this was not just people spouting their theories, it was “been there, done that” advice from women that were clearly experts.

Lynette Young, who is a pioneer in social media and shared a presentation on thriving in technology, looked out at the audience and noted that she was speaking to the choir. She urged us to find women who need help diving into technology and to escort them into that world.

If you are a woman interested in technology but you don’t know how to dive in, I urge you to look for conferences in your area. If you can’t find or make it to a technology conference (this was the first of its kind in Philadelphia), go to the Web or Twitter. Follow the hashtags (the one for the Women in Technology Summit was #witsphl) and join in on the conversations. If you see someone talking about a subject you are interested in, chime in with your questions.

Some women in technology to follow: @Nazarova_Marina, @myasmine, @AmyAllStar, @pamasaur, @gloriabell, @TWelsonRossman, @LynetteRadio, and @aboutoneCEO (that’s me).

Thank you to Technically Philly for sharing this video of my presentation.

This post was originally posted at AboutOne's blog: "Notes From The CEO".

About the guest blogger: Joanne Lang is the Founder and CEO of AboutOne, an online organizer that not only replaces the file cabinets, notebooks, and various tools that families use to store household information, but also saves time by automatically organizing that information so it’s useful and readily available. She is a former software company executive specializing in cloud technology. Follow her on Twitter at @AboutOneCEO.