New York-based Aussie, Tania Yuki was seduced by digital media and marketing after making the move to NYC. She created Shareablee in 2013. Shareablee is has grown to become the leading authority in social media metrics and audience intelligence, and digital brand engagement. Tania talks to AWNY about what it’s like to lead and grow a company – now with over 70 staff – through a rapidly changing market.
Would you be able to provide us with some background information about you and Shareablee?
Shareablee is a big data analytics platform that maps consumer behavior to brand preference and marketing effectiveness, to help marketers succeed in the increasingly cluttered and fragmented new media environment.
How long did you have the idea for this business and why did you decide to start Shareablee?
I worked on the idea for this business for about a year before seriously kicking it off in market. The pre-work involved a lot of time spent, collecting and validating engagement data, and sharing it with marketers to learn what would deliver the most impact for their businesses. One marketer I showed the preview data to, committed to signing up to the platform – so we had to rush out and build a front end, etc.
What has been your ‘Ah Ha’ / ‘I’ve made it in the USA moment’?
I don’t know if I’ve really had one yet! But I know that after about the tenth employee was hired, and one of our early employees’ wives had their first baby, it began really sinking in that the company I started was supporting families, and creating opportunities for a lot of people. That was really exciting, and a responsibility that I take incredibly seriously.
What have been the hardest lessons in starting a business in New York and how does it differ to Australia?
The biggest lesson has been that, at some point as your company scales, hard work alone isn’t enough. As the founder you have to constantly be thinking about ways to reinvent what you do, make sure it stays at the cutting edge of your industry, and to throw away anything that has become too sacred or entrenched. Putting in the hours is important, but so too is taking a step back and thinking critically on the future of the business.
Are there any particular technology challenges you have faced?
We collect and analyze behavioral data for basically everyone active on the social web, so scaling and upgrading how we collect, store and access our data systems is a huge part of our technology challenge. Making sure that all relevant data sources are available for research and ongoing metrics and analytics development means we are constantly having to think about how to optimize for speed, cost and cross-functional usage.
Where have you been most successful in marketing your business?
We have a lot of industry and marketplace data that is valuable to a great number of people working broadly across many categories, and we’ve made a lot of those analytics available via free webinars that we host. This information also makes its way into conference presentations, and has been a great source of brand awareness, new customer growth, and overall thought leadership.
Do you have any mentors, and how have people been with sharing information and their networks?
I have a lot of people who I have turned to for help, advice and counsel, and I keep bringing new people into the fold. As my company grows and the questions I need help with change pretty rapidly, I’m always on the lookout for people who have done what I am about to try and do, and to seek out advice from them. People have been incredibly generous about sharing their experiences and their networks and giving of their time to be helpful, and I always try and do the same for anyone who reaches out to me.
What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business?
Make the idea and the use-case concrete as quickly as possible, even if your minimum viable product is hacked together with scotch tape. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect, or your best work – that comes later. The best ideas change rapidly upon contact with the end-user, and you can waste a lot of time trying to second-guess the customer. Get whatever you’re working on out there quickly, before you’ve had too much time to over-engineer.
What is next for Shareablee?
So many things! It’s such an exciting time for us. We’re working right now on a re-launch of our UX (user experience), we’ve doubled down on real-time data, and have a slew of cool new products that we’re getting ready to ship in the new year that will really help our industry with monetizing social media – a massive pain point right now. As we approach our fourth birthday, we may even think about a re-brand to reflect just how much our industry has evolved and grown up! Just for fun. There are a lot of great tradeoffs that we’re evaluating right now, and in such a fast growing space you’re more likely to die of indigestion, and starvation. So the next few months are going to be critical.
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