How did she do it? A Q&A with Tania Yuki, founder and CEO of Shareablee

Emily Susskind, managing director of Golden Seeds and co-leader of the Golden Seeds Enterprise Services and Technology Sector Group

September 27, 2018

Tania Yuki, founder and CEO of Shareablee

One founder’s perpetual curiosity led her to develop a successful social media platform:

Tania Yuki began her career as a media and internet attorney, specializing in digital rights management, IP and film financing. However, her curiosity regarding the commercial impact of emerging digital platforms lead her to roles in digital media and measurement. Convinced that social media would change the way companies communicate with their customers and do business, she dedicated herself to understanding what makes social content successful and founded  Shareablee, a company that has become the industry leader in evaluating brand performance and audience behavior across social platforms.

I recently spoke with Yuki about Shareablee and the company’s mission to help publishers, agencies and brands understand their audiences and quantify the impact and effectiveness of social media.

ES: Tell us about the origins of your company.
TY: I founded Shareablee in 2013. I had been working at comScore in product management, where I led the development of its first online video measurement product. In that role, I also began observing the amazing velocity happening across Facebook and realized it was different to anything that had been measured before. I was curious about how marketers could succeed and make things work. I started Shareablee initially as a service to help companies create engaging content on social media. We then realized we had a larger opportunity provide optics and visibility to big enterprises regarding their competitive performance, cross-engagement and audience insights.

ES: What market needs are you solving, and how is your approach different from how others who have addressed this need?
TY: Platforms change every day. It’s such a fast-paced environment., for example, had more than 2 billion users and then quietly got acquired and shut down. We want to arm the next generation of leaders and visionaries with the data and visibility they need to innovate and make predictive decisions with confidence.

Shareablee offers so much more than just competitive data. We measure all social platforms, provide recommendations on when to post and what about, and show brands where their customers are spending their time. This way, brands can better engage and customize their messaging. If we measure something it has to be industry-wide because in this economy and in this marketplace, you don’t know who your competitors are. So, if brands just get optics into what they already believe is the problem, they will be lulled into a false sense of security.

ES: What challenges have you encountered along the way? How have you overcome them?
TY: The biggest challenge I’ve encountered was figuring out what to focus on while growing the company. At any time, I’m juggling hiring, product innovation, new clients, servicing clients, new sales, marketing, engineering and infrastructure, privacy in General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — the list goes on. As a founder, a lot of areas are competing for your time, so you must figure out what is critical for your business.

I loved product management so transitioning away from that area and into a role that focuses on macro-level activities and empowering leadership was a big transition. I also was challenged with doing less. I had to give up day to day execution in order to get much better at delivering our vision. When you’re a small company, your only goal is survival and traction, but as the organization matures, effectively articulating your vision and why it is so critical for the company becomes the priority. Communication with your employees plays an essential role. At the end of the day, you need to be an excellent communicator.

ES: What’s coming up next for your company? Any big milestones on the horizon?
TY: We have a few things on the horizon. The first is making a big move into influencer measurement and helping with transparency in this fast growing, wild-west space. There was a big outcry a few months ago about true influencer metrics. Shareablee will give brands trustworthy and consistent ways of measuring, as well as letting influencers know their own value. Both areas are not truly done in the marketplace right now.

Secondly, Shareablee is moving insights and analytics into the predictive space. Today, customers use our data to take action, but the future is focused on predictive analytics and helping our customers make decisions and recommendations.

ES: What advice do you have for early-stage founders?
TY: The biggest piece of advice I have is to be clear on why you are starting your company. I think it can seem romantic to be an entrepreneur and it is, if it is the right decision for you. But you must be clear on the mission and why you want to bring your company to market. You need certainty and resilience to get you through the ups and downs. I speak to a lot of early-stage entrepreneurs wondering if they should quit their jobs, take a loan, etc. I tell them to be 1,000 percent sure it is something they want. If you have any doubt, you won’t power through it. Managing the psychology and the reason why you’re starting a company before you make that leap is essential to success.

ES: Tell us about your experience with Golden Seeds. How has the Golden Seeds network been helpful to you?
TY: Golden Seeds has been with me since the beginning of Shareablee. They’ve been supportive as an investor but more importantly, we’ve kept regular check-ins with the Golden Seeds networks. They’ve not only offered to give help, but actually followed through and delivered help with respect to introductions, hiring talent, troubleshooting situations and acted as an advisor and a supporter, when necessary.

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