While technology leaders in this country have typically been male, over the past decade Canada has seen a dramatic increase in the number of women who are doing everything from running digital companies to building communities on Twitter. For the next five consecutive Mondays, Trending Tech will shine a spotlight on women who are breaking new ground in the tech industry, from mobile marketers to software evangelists, and beyond.
Although she first came into our homes back when an 'app' was an appetizer and 'tweets' came from a bird, Erica Ehm is now a leading online voice of Canadian mothers. After a popular gig as the country's first female VJ at MuchMusic from 1985-1994, Ehm has focused her efforts in the past few years on what she calls a "digital journey to revolutionize motherhood."
Her site is called YummyMummyClub.ca, which is owned, written, and run by mothers. There are 10 staff members and 25 bloggers who submit articles on a regular basis, including everything from pool safety tips to how to run a home business. For the women who are part of the team, it's a dream gig. Everyone works remotely, so they can focus on building their community and raising their kids.
"I started YMC because I felt very isolated after having kids. I imagined I was the worst mom on the planet," says Ehm. She thanks the other moms she has met along the way for showing her that such feelings were not unique. So many moms she contacted suffered from the same doubts and concerns, which in turn convinced Ehm of the need to redefine the modern definition of motherhood.
If YMC sounds like a warm and fuzzy support network, don't be fooled. From the inside, it's clear to see the business potential. The company is growing quickly and has become a coveted spot for many of Canada's largest consumer brands interested in marketing to moms. As Erica says, her team is in a unique position to conduct unique campaigns for clients because of their readership.
"We are our readers. We create branded content that resonates with us."
Also attractive to companies and advertisers is YummyMummyClub.ca's 70,000 newsletter subscribers and the tens of thousands of mothers the team reaches on Twitter.
As for that not-so-small micro-messaging site, Ehm says that tweeting has had a huge impact on her success. Within four months of using Twitter, her traffic grew by 30 per cent. Today, YMC has about 100,000 unique visitors a month.
However, it's not just about numbers for the mompreneur, she also thanks Twitter for introducing her to a huge network of new friends. If you watch Ehm's account @yummymummyclub you'll see that she's not kidding, this woman is tweeting every waking hour and is a firehouse of information for busy moms, dads, and fans who follow her.
Ehm admits that technology hasn't always played a strong role in her life. When she launched YMC she had to learn how to build a website from scratch, with little professional knowledge and with a much smaller team. She encourages other women to venture out into the digital space and create communities of their own, but she speaks from experience when she says that it takes time.
"Don't just push out your message. Community is about dialogue, being supportive and listening as much as talking."