Most days, Allie Rose and Jamie Burton, co-founders of mom website Oh Mama, have to pinch themselves as a reminder their new endeavor is actually work. The passion they have for their new venture and the fun they have doing it makes it that much more rewarding.
It is hard to believe a mother of two toddlers and a newborn could have the energy, much less the enthusiasm, to feel this way, but as her partner gushes, “Jamie is a turbo person.” (Allie’s pretty high-charged, too – she is scheduled to deliver her second child on Monday.) Thanks to Jamie’s entrepreneurial spirit and Allie’s vision, the Baltimore moms were able to bring their idea for “a mom’s guide to the best of everything” to fruition and launch Oh Mama in 18 cities nationwide.
The origins of Oh Mama began when Allie was pregnant with her first child and living in downtown Baltimore. As an expectant mom, she was unable to find a centralized and credible resource for her baby questions. The only local online resources were list serves like Craig’s List and Facebook, both of which only provide single viewpoints. It was clear that a need for a single website where users could ask questions and get feedback was missing. That is when she turned to her lifelong friend, Jamie, and together they came up with the concept for Oh Mama, a social media, networking site for moms with organized and local content.
Allie and Jamie have known each other for twenty years, since they became fast friends in middle school. Growing up in Ellicott City, they remained close despite attending different high school and colleges. Allie chose a career in consulting while Jamie’s background remains in entrepreneurship. The two joked that they were forever tossing around new ideas and “just waiting for one to stick.”
Three years ago, they committed themselves to just this. Despite the daily demands of motherhood, the two worked to cultivate and grow the Oh Mama idea. It has been a long process, but the rewards have been great. Most notable, has been the empowerment of working for themselves.
Allie calls it “a dream come true,” crediting not only the ability to work for herself but also to work on something in which she truly believes.
Jamie adds that they “put in more hours [on Oh Mama than their old careers] but it doesn’t feel like work.”
Perhaps part of that is spending hours a day on the phone with your best friend.
Don’t be fooled, however. Over those conversations, Allie and Jamie have honed their product and learned so much about website development. One of the biggest hurdles they faced was turning over control of their idea to a technical developer. In the past year, they have hired a development team that truly understands their vision and is committed to moving Oh Mama forward. In addition to the website, Allie and Jamie look forward to the upcoming launch of the Oh Mama mobile app.
Their progress stems from Allie and Jamie’s patience and study of the product. After hashing out initial idea, they soft launched Oh Mama to family and friends through a targeted email. The effort alone garnered 500-1,000 users and convinced them that they had a concept worth growing. They added input and content from other moms and organized the site around specific topics and ideas. The website now features 18 cities nationwide with plans to expand. In the coming months, users will be able to filter both local and national content to tap into a broader scope of resources and hear different voices and feedback from other moms in other cities.
Allie and Jamie’s favorite feature of the website is the newsletter, “From the Mamas.” As the brand grows, Allie and Jamie hope to incorporate other mom blogs on the site in a centralized location allowing users to access both their content and that of other sites. The new feature, “Mom Crushes,” will allow access to mom blog content from one place and with it, Oh Mama’s stamp of approval.
Oh Mama also features local events and classes as well as an upcoming marketplace section where users can buy, sell and trade products, similar to a Craigslist. They feel this will especially appeal to moms in urban areas eager to create space for their growing kids.
Oh Mama is unique in that it is 100% interactive. Visitors to the site create a free username and password then select their city and have the option to add further personal information to enhance their profile. For Oh Mama users, the biggest benefit is the ability to post on city homepages and elicit responses from other users. For example, in the Baby Bump section, expectant moms ask questions or post concerns and anticipate feedback from other new and expectant moms.
As Allie and Jamie grow Oh Mama, they hope for increased brand awareness and a trust in the site as a valuable resource for its users. They distinguish themselves from other “mom blogs” because of the interactive aspect of the site.
“We are not one sided…we want to be a trusted resource for moms at a local level.”
For two young moms with their own young families, Allie and Jamie have just the right combination of knowledge, first-hand experience and inherent passion for what they do to make Oh Mama a success. Looking ahead, they hope the site will grow with them, increasing its user-base to serve older children and their moms. With its already increasing national presence, Oh Mama seems poised to do just that.
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