Lauren Hasson is the Founder of DevelopHer and a distinguished software engineer at a leading Silicon Valley fintech company. She founded DevelopHer to help fellow women in tech (and men, too!) get ahead, stand out, and negotiate for the salaries they deserve after starting over herself from ground zero at age 29 and then learning that a male peer was hired at 50% more than her.
Because she invested in professional development and learned how to negotiate for herself, Lauren was able to transform from rock bottom into a top, high-profile tech professional and nearly quintuple her salary in less than four years. Now, she’s really moving the needle to bridge the gender wage gap and inspiring thousands of women (and men too!) to build their best careers and break their own glass ceilings.
Her work with DevelopHer has been featured in the international IEEE Women in Engineering and Duke Magazines, she’s been hired by top companies like Google, Dell, Intuit, Armor, and more to train and inspire their women, and she’s received over eight major awards for her work including the Women in IT Awards Silicon Valley “Diversity Initiative of the Year” Award, Gold and Silver Stevie Women in Business Awards, Gold and Silver Female Executive of the Year Awards, and more. Additionally, she was recognized by the United Nations as a Finalist for their WSIS Stakeholder Platform Prize and was invited to attend the United Nations with a seat at the table to collaborate on bridging the global gender gap in STEM.
In addition to her DevelopHer work, Lauren is an accomplished software engineer. Her professional software engineering work has been featured in Apple keynotes, she was one of 100 top innovators invited to attend the UK G8 Innovation Summit, and she’s won multiple, high-profile hackathons including SXSW two years in a row. In her career, she’s held both senior leadership and senior engineering roles at startups and prominent agencies alike.
Q: What inspired you to found DevelopHer and what were the main challenges you faced?
I founded DevelopHer because I realized there was a need for recognition of women in technology. DevelopHer started as a podcast to interview successful women in tech. I was surprised when I quickly learned women wanted to hear my story of getting back into tech, building my professional value, creating visibility for myself, and overcoming the pay inequity I faced.
I found my story was one of the every-woman. Because I have always been genuine and authentic, without glossing over the less glamorous details of my experiences, they wanted to hear more of my story. Since I found my own voice, I have been able to engage more audiences and reach more women than ever before.
While I started DevelopHer to showcase other women, I ultimately pivoted to telling my personal story that so resonated with my audience. DevelopHer has since become a best-in-class, award-winning platform to help women get ahead, stand out, and earn more in their careers.
I founded, and continue to lead, DevelopHer all while working full-time as a successful software engineer myself. I have no outside investors and time is a scarce resource for me.
I never have all the answers up front, so DevelopHer has been built on testing new ideas and pivoting as I move forward. Things haven’t always worked out the way I hoped, but there have been a lot of great lessons learned, as well as a lot of opportunities I’ve seized along the way.
The hardest part has been building the right team to help me on my journey, but I’ve been able to assemble a remote team of top people to help move DevelopHer forward.
Q: Did you start the venture alone?
Yes. I launched DevelopHer in late 2017 with only my personal savings and no outside investment, and all while working full-time as a successful software and application security engineer.
Over time I have strategically onboarded independent contractors to provide expertise in small areas, but continue to run DevelopHer by myself.
Q: In your opinion, what are some key opportunities in the career development space going forward?
I have found there is a lot of online learning spaces, but I am fulfilling a niche for soft-skills learning specifically for women in tech, by an actual woman in tech. I bring a unique set of skills and experience to individual women in tech who want to advance their careers, as well as institutions of higher education and corporations who wish to credential their commitment to women. I plan to secure additional partnerships with companies and educational institutions to implement the DevelopHer technology platform for the benefit of their students and employees.
Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?
DevelopHer is a national, award-winning platform that women in tech use as individuals and is licensed on a larger scale to universities and corporations. I am also a motivational speaker and offer my talks to institutions of higher education, corporations, and women’s organizations. These organizations can then license the talks in order to offer them to their full organizations at scale.
Q: Do you think luck played a role in the success of your company?
When people look at the success of DevelopHer, they don’t see the work behind the scenes that created that success. By nature, I am a planner and preparer. I work every day to plan and prepare myself so when opportunities present themselves, I am prepared to act on them. That may be luck to some, but I believe that my work and preparation allows me to see opportunities for what they are and take advantage of them. I worked hard over a number of years to develop my network and build my reputation. I used this groundwork to catapult me forward. I don’t believe this was luck. I firmly believe success takes consistent, deliberate action repeated over time.
Q: What are your goals for the future?
My first book, The DevelopHer Playbook, will be coming out soon. It is a step-by-step playbook on how I was able to get ahead, stand out, become truly visible, and earn more in my tech career. My goal is for every woman in tech to have a copy of the book and use it. I want institutions of higher education and corporations to provide this to their professional women in tech.
DevelopHer programming is an integral part of education. Women in tech careers need to learn more than just the technical skills. They need the soft skills offered through DevelopHer to get to the next level. I am actively cultivating corporate and higher education partnerships, including community college networks, as well as programs for individual women.
Q: If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
I have definitely learned a lot of lessons along my journey. I don’t know that I would do anything differently as the steps I have taken have brought me to where I am today. I have accomplished a lot and am proud of those accomplishments.
I make assumptions, challenge those assumptions, and test myself at every step along the way. At every new step I prototype with a smaller idea as a test for moving forward. It allows me to fail fast and learn as I go.
Q: Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?
I highly respect Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. She is a successful businesswoman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist that built her business from nothing. She is real about the hustle you need to put in a business. She hustled to build her business while working full-time. I think she is fantastic and I would love to meet her someday.
Q: What are your favorite books?
I am an avid reader of self-help and professional development books. Awaken the Giant Within, by Tony Robbins, The Compound Effect, by Darren Hardy and The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson are three of my personal favorites. The personal empowerment messages offered by Tony Robbins have been instrumental in helping me, and his approach to taking control of your life helped me establish a base for my success.
Q: What's your advice for female founders who are just starting out?
Look within yourself to solve your problems and provide what you need to succeed. Stop looking to others to solve your problems or give you what you think you need to get started. Take a leap before you feel you are ready. I'm unstoppable not because I don't have failures or doubts, but because I continue forward despite them!