OhanaLink Technologies CEO Kara Wasser—Forges Path for Women in Technology
Last year, on November 17, 2020, OhanaLink Technologies™ launched its OhanaLink smartphone app—a mobile solution that connects patients, family, and friends in a safe, secure environment during life’s health events—be it a birth of a baby, a critical health diagnosis and treatment, or just a monthly wellness check.
The brainchild behind the OhanaLink app is OhanaLink Technologies CEO Kara Wasser, who began developing the app in 2017. In making her dream become a reality, Wasser would never have predicted her company would launch its app as the world was facing a global pandemic. Also, she never anticipated the roadblocks to state-wide sources available to fund tech companies—specifically, women-owned and mobile tech companies.
As she developed OhanaLink Technologies, Wasser committed to building her company where she and her family reside in Hermitage, Pennsylvania, Mercer County.
“My family lives here; it’s where my husband and I work and where we are raising our two children,” Wasser explained. “I believe that Mercer County is not only a wonderful place to live, but it is also an area full of opportunity and potential.”
But, over her five-year journey—moving from banker to entrepreneur—she has witnessed firsthand the challenges of funding technology companies in Western Pennsylvania. On November 4, 2021, Wasser testified before the Pennsylvania House Republican Policy Committee regarding these challenges.
One of the biggest roadblocks Wasser addressed was discovering that most economic development organizations were in no position to provide funding opportunities for a company that doesn’t own buildings, equipment, or anything else that would be considered “hard assets.”
“Even more disheartening was learning that there was the lack of understanding around what it takes to build a tech company, referencing upfront money and being told ‘you won’t make a big enough economic impact,’” stated Wasser.
Over the past 18 months, OhanaLink Technologies has grown on a shoestring budget—creating 13 professional, high-paying jobs and five paid internships in partnership with local colleges and universities.
“We are forecasting the need for 15 additional jobs by the end of 2024, bringing nearly $8 million in payroll dollars to the Mercer County area and maintaining a company with an estimated value of $80 million,” explained Wasser. “My team is appreciative of the support that we have received from our investors and mentors and a select few of our elected officials and economic development agencies. But, unfortunately, I continue to run into funding dead ends—despite steadfastly growing a business that is poised to make a significant economic impact in an area that is averse to funding technology.”
“Together with the OhanaLink Technologies team, I see challenges as opportunities to create change,” said Wasser. “We plan to continue to engage and educate for what we believe—that Mercer County is the right location to live and work for generations to come.”