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Breaking Glass

Against the grain: CompuDance

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Maureen Strehl is defying the statistics. As a business-owning woman in the technology industry, the numbers are against her. Yet her business, CompuDance, has been seeing steady growth over the last four years, and there’s no sign of stopping.

Strehl didn’t go to school to study technology, though.

Still, in the early 1990s, she found herself computerizing the organizational systems of the companies she had been working at. One such company was the hypochondriac dream/nightmare WebMD.

“This is all happening around ‘90, where a lot of companies had everything on ledger cards, everything was manual, accounting systems were not done on computers,” she said. “So that’s how I got into it.”

When WebMD got bought out, Strehl started a family and no longer wanted to commute or work full-time. Working with computers and flexibility of location was a major perk for Strehl who was a new mother.

“People were just allowing people to work from home, so I started working home for a little bit,” she said.

Around 2004, her daughters began taking dance lessons and, while in between these part-time jobs, Strehl began to work in the office of the dance studio, mostly on the computer system. The software was developed by a single programmer specifically for the one dance studio.

“I’d call him here and there for support and at one point in the middle of the summer of 2008, he said ‘I’m selling at the end of the year.’ ”

By Jan. 1, 2009, she owned the company. After a year, her interest was peaked by cloud computing and she hired a programmer to turn the software into a Web-based application.

“This was in 2010 and it was still fairly new for a lot of people, even though things were moving toward the Web, it was not like it is now,” she said. “It’s only four or five years later, but it’s very different now. Everything’s online.”

Since utilizing the Web to allow access to her software from different computers and devices, Strehl has started to sell subscriptions to other dance studios who are now using her program, CompuDance, to organize classes, track attendance and keep in contact with students.

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“Primarily, the flexibility and the ability to access it from multiple locations is why we went Web-based,” she said.

When the product was first launched in 2010, there were five subscribers. Now, they have slightly more than 200.

“To a big company we’re still really small,” she says. “But I look at it as where we were and where we are.”

She’s also looking at where they’re going.

“By the end of the 2015, we’re definitely going to have over 500,” she said. “Theoretically, if we have the staffing in place, we could have about 750 to 1,000.”

Strehl is rolling out a new version of the program later this year that will open up its uses to other types of institutions like pre-schools and music lesson studios. It will also be mobile compatible.

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Andrew Sheldon

Andrew Sheldon

Andrew Sheldon covers technology and education. His email is andrews@njbiz.com and he is @AndrewsNJBIZ on Twitter.

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