Get the Real Scoop on Technology with Cool Mom Tech

6 years ago

I am a geek, and proud of it.  I love to talk technology. So if I come across a great tech related site, I am all over it. Cool Mom Picks is a collaboration of Liz Gumbinner and Kristen Chase who realized that there were not enough sites that showcased Mom Made products. I met Kristen Chase earlier this year at an event to showcase her work here in Chicago at the Kenmore Live Studio. We all received a copy of her book, The Mominatrix's Guide to Sex of which I have a copy, and I must say... good reading!

Together with Beth Blecherman, who we all know and love (or uhh... worship) as @TechMama, and a cast of contributing writers they navigate the blogosphere and give us their take on the latest gadgets that mom's may take an interest in on Cool Mom Tech.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Liz Gumbinner who is half of the dynamic duo behind Cool Mom Picks and Cool Mom Tech. She answered a few questions about launching the Cool Mom Tech site.

(photo by Maggie Mason)

1. How did you get the idea for the Cool Mom Picks website?

It's a real 21st century blog love story! Kristen Chase already had a big following at Motherhood Uncensored, and I had just started Mom-101 in early 2006. We became friendly online right away. A few weeks later, she had this idea to start a blog just to cover interesting things that moms were doing that we found online. She's so supportive of the community that way, and always has been.

So Kristen wrote this post about a softie made by a blogger and stuck it in a blog called Cool Mom Sh*t. (Click over and see how far our voice and style have evolved!) She asked me to write for her, and we brainstormed ways about how the site could work and decided to become partners. Our first collective decision was to change the name. 

We slowly were able to hone in on what was right for the site and what wasn't; our passions are really for women and mom-run business, handmade items, indie kids' music, eco-friendly ideas, boutique brands, and things out of the mainstream. The way we see it, the big box stores have $100 million ad budgets; they don't need us to get the word out. But a mom making baby clothes out of her basement -- we could actually make a difference in her business.

We've expanded since then to cover a lot more kinds of things that we love, that we think are valuable for moms to learn about. for example.

2. When did you decide that you needed to expand and give Tech it's own website?

We get so much feedback from our readers asking for us to cover more kinds of things, even mainstream things. They're very vocal! So about a year or two ago, my partner Kristen Chase and I started to talk about how to expand our site. It happened to be at the same time social media was exploding for the mom market, and the number of tech-related products and services for parents was increasing in our inboxes every day and the idea just hit. 

We reached out to our favorite tech-expert mom blogger, Beth Blecherman of Techmamas, and asked if she'd be interested in being involved and turns out, she was just about to reach out to us too. Kismet! 

She's our managing editor and the essential third leg in the stool. She's the voice who says, "oh no, don't cover that laptop now...they've got a new processor coming out in 6 months but it's top secret and blah blah blah tech tech tech." Everyone who knows her knows she's brilliant, and we're so lucky to have her.

3. Do you think that the audience on the tech site is different from the usual CMP audience?

There's a lot of intersection for sure. But the Cool Mom Tech site allows us to build on the tremendous trust we've created with our readers and open up our scope. For example, we can cover items for older kids, which we don't do a lot of on CMP (once your kid is 16, she's pretty much picking out her own clothes). But even if you have a teen, you're still interested in things like family-friendly video games, test prep, educational software, holiday gifts, and of course internet safety. 

4. Do you think that CMT will develop a larger audience than CMP?

Personally I think all parents should be reading both sites, of course!

But I would hope that Cool Mom Tech will have appeal to all 33 million moms who are online -- and dads and grandparents too. The site is geared towards any parent who is online, on a smart phone, using Facebook, using technology in her day to day life, or watching her kids do it. It's not for "geeky" moms per se, although we hope they'll enjoy it too.

Really, we're just offering recommendations for moms from other moms who care about the same kinds of things you do.

5. Why is CMT different than other tech review sites? What can we expect different on CMT?

Women in general just look at technology differently than men do. Men like having gadgets. Technology is a toy for them. Women like things that are purposeful, smart, solve problems, look good, and make sense with their lives, so that's our perspective.

Most tech review sites come from a very industry point of view. They'll tell you that some educational software was developed by the guys involved with some other tech project, but they won't tell you whether their kid tried it out and actually liked it. They also won't tell you if it's worth the money when you're on a tight budget; tech guys seem to have a lot of disposable income!

We really look at everything like moms, first. 

Here's an example: Recently we covered the launch of the new Toshiba Kids PC. One of our contributors, Torrie, went and actually tried it out. She talked about why she liked it as a mom. She talks about how it's light enough for a kid to lift. She leads with her own insight that it's frustrating when your kids are always taking your computer and getting their sticky fingers on it. The tech review sites are leading with "it has a dual-core Intel Celeron P4600 processor."

We also don't care if we're the first to break news. We'd rather wait to try something out or see it in action so we can stand behind all our recommendations.

6. In reading your bio, you have been featured on quite a few power lists. Does your success sometimes surprise you?

Oh, I can't judge success based on how many lists I get on; if I did I'd have to look at all the lists I'm not on and jump out a window. This is a very list-happy world we live in!

But of course I'm always happy when all the work I do is valued by someone -- whether they're an editor writing a list, or a blog reader who writes to us and says, "thanks so much, you really helped me out. " That's probably the best of all.

We love our ladies of tech! Here are a few other cool sites that you can check out for great tech reviews and other geek talk by lovely ladies. 

What are some of your favorite techy sites?

Kris Cain is Chicago area mom to 2 sets of twins, photography nut, gadget addict, web designer, and blogger who has worked in IT for over 13 years. On her blog, she writes about her love of gadgets, technology, and her children.

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