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Joanne Lang's AboutOne App: Family Organization At Hand

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Photo by Jared CastaldiJoanne Lang recently flew from her Malvern home to Santa Clara, Calif., to share her story of transformation as a keynote speaker at the BlogHer Entrepreneurs Conference. A mere two years earlier, she’d been juggling a full-time job as an SAP software executive and a demanding home life. When one of her four young sons has to be rushed to the hospital after an asthma attack, Lang left her home in a panic with only her cell phone and car keys.

“When I got to the hospital, the paramedics started asking me all these questions about his medicines and insurance,” she recalls. “I had it all at home, but I couldn’t get to it.”

That sobering experience was a life-changer for Lang, who’s now the founder and CEO of AboutOne.com, a website that helps “manage what matters most.” At SAP, Lang had learned how cloud technology aids in making businesses more efficient. But what about the busy households inundated with paperwork and forms?

AboutOne is a secure, online family organizing system that works in conjunction with your online calendar and contact tools to provide relevant information in a quick and easy manner from a computer or mobile phone. “The goal is to take away the time parents spend filing and organizing family-related tasks and mementos,” she says.

Lang did extensive market research and built a prototype. But in order to move AboutOne into the development stage, she had to leave her 13-year position at SAP. “I was the breadwinner, so it wasn’t easy telling my husband that I wanted to leave my job—with benefits— during a down economy and invest our savings into a startup business,” she admits.
 

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With her family’s support, Lang was officially off and running with her concept in June 2010. Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Technology Partners program provided some initial funding, and she joined the Philly Startup Leaders entrepreneurial group. “I really believe there isn’t a better place in the world to start a company than this area,” says Lang, a native of England. “The support available to entrepreneurs is incredible.”

AboutOne officially launched in October 2010. The following spring, Lang was the first presenter at VentureBeat’s DEMO 2011 conference, a renowned assemblage of emerging technologies and new products. While she was there, she was tapped by Microsoft for an appearance in its documentary, Ctrl+Alt+Complete, focusing on five American visionaries. “All these amazing things were happening to me less than a year after my launch,” she says.

AboutOne’s potential reach is astounding. Lang is targeting 83 million mothers in the United States alone. “I feared my competition at the beginning,” she admits. “But my biggest failure turned out to be not aiming high enough.”

Of late, AboutOne has attracted the attention of some of the biggest names in the tech world. It will be available on Nokia’s new Lumia phone, and an app for the Android and iPhone will be out this summer. AboutOne will also be part of the new Windows 8 operating system later this year. In addition, Lang has partnered with Suze Orman to provide AboutOne users with free access to the financial guru’s top-rated identity-protection app.

Looking back, Lang acknowledges that she alone was her biggest threat. “I had this obnoxious voice in my head that kept being negative,” she continues. “That’s one of the things I try to get across to fellow entrepreneurs—only you can stop yourself.”

Visit aboutone.com.
 

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