DL grad develops new app for families on the go
Writing down the ever-growing list of babysitter directions was getting ridiculous for Karla Lemmon. In today’s world, she knew there had to be a phone app out there that would suit her needs.
Unfortunately, there was nothing just right though. So she developed her own.
The Detroit Lakes Class of 1990 graduate now lives in the Twin Cities and is not only spending her time marketing her new app, Little Peanut on the Go, but she is also a part of MobCon, a conference in the Cities that focuses on mobile technology.
Each year at MobCon, there is a competition called MobDemo, and last year Lemmon won with her Little Peanut idea. But let’s take a step back.
“The idea came to me from my own experience,” she said.
After having her son, she said she got tired of having to write everything down for babysitters and grandparents while they watched him.
“I found myself writing the same exact thing, whether it was emergency contact information, medical information, how to take care of him, what his schedule was. I had to write that down every time we had a sitter,” Lemmon said.
She and her husband also bring her son to Detroit Lakes to stay with her parents, Duane and Marcella Lemmon, a few times during the summer.
“Again, I was writing down his packing list, writing that same information down for them. At one point, I was even writing down how to understand his baby words so that they knew what he wanted,” she said with a laugh.
From bottles to baby food, snacks to bedtime, the list kept morphing over the years.
So a couple years ago when she bought a smart phone, she started looking for an app that would store all the information for her and easily transfer it to whomever she gave access to it. She couldn’t find what she was looking for, so she started to develop the idea for an app herself.
She talked to friends and found that they were struggling through the same frustrations.
She continued create her design and pursue the app, thus bringing her to MobCon.
Each year at MobCon, the competition gives people a chance to present their mobile app idea in hopes of winning assistance in developing the app. Lemmon said she received $20,000 worth of development credit with a local company, and then $5,000 in cash. She said that the funding didn’t cover all of the development, but it sure helped.
“I applied for that last year and presented at MobCon and won the competition,” she said.
Then last week at the yearly MobCon, she got up and spoke about what had happened over the last year and how her app was coming along. She also had the opportunity to introduce the candidates for this year’s competition.
“Going into a technology conference, I thought it was all going to be 25-to-35-year-old men who don’t have kids or wouldn’t have any idea what I’m talking about,” she said, describing that she was more nervous than confident when it came time to present her app at last year’s MobCon.
And to top it off, she was the only woman presenter in last year’s competition.
“It turned out the audience was a wide range of people, a wide range of ages. They immediately connected with the idea and understood the problem I was describing. That was a pleasant surprise to me,” she added.
Though she doesn’t know the number of people who applied for the competition, it was narrowed down to eight people, including herself, that gave presentations. In the end, her app was chosen by a large margin of audience votes, Lemmon said.
After development, her Little Peanut on the Go app was released in May of this year, and after receiving feedback from those using it, she spent the summer tweaking it. So this fall, she’s working hard on marketing the app to a wider audience.
She’s been posting sponsored ads on mom blogs throughout the country, working with travel and text bloggers to get the word out, an article in Minnesota Parent magazine next month and even on Huggies.com this month.
“So I’m slowly but surely reaching out to more and more bloggers and publications,” she said. “It’s just reaching out when I can, where I can to the right target.”
While making lists when her son was younger was becoming frustrating, she said she never thought she’d be developing an app to sell either.
Lemmon has a mechanical engineering bachelor’s degree and an MBA. She has worked as a software product manager for a web-based product at Honeywell, so the concept wasn’t foreign to her on the software side of things, just not with apps.
“I’ve had different business ideas over the years but never pursued them,” she said. “I’m always coming up with ideas, but this one stuck with me, so this is the one I finally decided to pursue.”
While she has other ideas for other apps, for now Lemmon is concentrating on marketing and revamping Little Peanut on the Go to make it the best product it can be.
“It’s a little bit harder than I thought it would be,” she said of developing and marketing your own app, “but it’s been fun. It’s been challenging, but fun.”
You can check out her app at www.littlepeanutonthego.com.