Interviewed by: Amrutha Ragavan
What does Branch Metrics do?
Branch Metrics is a deep linking solution for app developers and marketers. It’s used by major technology companies like Pinterest, Redfin, HotelTonight, Buzzfeed, and Jet to make their apps and app content more easily shared and discovered.
With Branch, app developers and marketers can both track what in-app content prompts downloads and app activity as well customize what a user sees once they open the app. This enables app developers and marketers to move away from expensive paid install campaigns to new, lower cost marketing channels for mobile apps such as email, SMS, and social marketing campaigns.
By using Branch deep linking app developers double user engagement, reduce acquisition costs by 30 percent, and obtain nearly double the retention rate.
What do you do for Branch Metrics?
I am one of the co-founders of Branch. Currently, I manage the community and developer relations at Branch. Our community is over 10,000 mobile developers and marketer and growing. We brought together this community through meetups, lunch and learn, hackathons and workshops that we held first in SF, and over the past year in 40 cities around US and the world.
Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
Funnily enough - no. I grew up in Romania where entrepreneurship is almost non existent. My family wasn’t very well to do and I had very little all throughout my childhood. So I dreamed about working at a big fancy company. I came to the US for an undergrad and then got a dream job at this big company. I was thrilled. But then during my Masters at Stanford, in one of the class lectures, my professor told all of us that being so bright and young, we should be building things - products, companies. And resonated with the core of me. Since then I focussed on just that - building fantastic company and product.
Who is your role model?
Personally, my mom. Like I mentioned, we weren’t well off during my childhood. Then suddenly one day, my mom decided to switch careers and become a financial analyst. She literally pulled us out of nothingness into middle class. She also taught me how to do much with very little. As an entrepreneur, I needed those skills in the early days where we literally had no money.
Professionally, I am a fan of Michelle Zatlyn.
What is the hardest thing you have to do as an entrepreneur?
Giving up on some ideas. I tend to become very attached to my ideas. They are like my babies! Sometimes, you have to give up on some as timing might not be right, or might not fit logically. By doing so, you emotionally grow as an entrepreneur.
Do you think it is hard being a female entrepreneur in Silicon Valley?
Not in my experience. I have been very lucky to be a part of the team that looks beyond my gender. I just focus on bringing my A game to the table and having fun. I tend to think less about being the only woman in the room etc. Even during hiring, we focus on finding the best person for the job - male/female does not play into the conversation.
What keeps you going?
The challenge. I love a challenge. Solving the challenge is also very gratifying. Branch was born as a solution to the challenge that me and my co-founders faced during our previous start up. Branch has no precedent. It is the challenge of building something brand new and growing it that is making this experience so exciting.
How do you manage it all?
It is hard - very hard. Have no illusions about it. I don’t claim to manage it all. Some days are good but some aren’t. I work long hours and that leaves me with no time to socialize as much. I have a small but very good set of friends. I have friends that I vent to, that I use as a sounding board. The key is not to lose focus of your goal. My goal is to build this amazing product and company.
A word of advice for young women entrepreneurs?
I know it sounds cliche, but just do it. We switched ideas four times until we found the right one with a big potential and that we were passionate about, and we would have not found it without going through the journey of exploring our first three ideas. So don’t wait for the perfect team or the perfect idea - just start building and selling something. Your first try might not be perfect, but you will learn a lot and if you keep on building you will find your own way to success.
In October of 2014 I created Billz Productions, a production company based in New York City providing services in photography and videography. I specialize in music videos, Instagram promotional videos, along with head shots and event photography. With a large entrepreneur clientele much of the visual content I produce is focused on branding and marketing. I believe my perception of the world beyond the lens is what sets my production company apart from other production companies. My passion simply comes from my ability to provide a service that produces visual content for all walks of life.
What are some ways of motivating yourself in times of doubt? Do you ever feel like giving up? Why do you keep going?
Music is my greatest source of motivation. Each day is different for me as an entrepreneur. There are some days when I feel like I have accomplished so much and there’s other days when I feel like I can be doing more. Music helps me cope with these feelings knowing there are other people who have experienced them as well. The success of the artist I listen to motivates me also. Their ability to achieve their dreams as an artist, reassures me that no matter what, I will conquer another day. There is no time for self doubt only self motivation.
Is it important to set goals or is it better to just “go with the flow”? What is your strategy?
From the beginning of my entrepreneurship journey nothing has been planned. Going with the flow has been my strategy for the most part. My goal has been solely to be successful in completing anything I put my mind to. If I focused on every step I needed to take to get to where I am today I would have put tons of pressure on myself. Life isn’t planned no matter how much you want to plan it, you never know what your next day will be like.
Someone once said that you can’t tell your big dreams to small minded people. Do you believe that it’s a true statement?
What we must understand is that everyone may have a different response to our dreams and goals. A lot of times, in my opinion, people who have a negative reaction in response to your dreams is due to their own fears of failure. Keep faith and perseverance in yourself and that fear they are experiencing may later turn into belief. Who knows, you may just inspire that person to began to believe in themselves.
Is it important to dream big? What is the big dream for your business?
It is absolutely important to dream big! My biggest dream for my business is for it to exceed my life span and to bring wealth to my family and opportunities for my community.
Did you look for funding in the past?
Since I have began my business I have not looked for funding outside of my own resources. It is important to me to know that each of my accomplishments at this point in my career were funded by me. Although, at some point funding will be necessary for bigger projects, self funding has enabled me to learn lessons about money and how it should be distributed among a variety of different productions.
Why do you think that female owned businesses are a VERY small percentage (that has not been growing) of businesses that get funded by venture capital? What can we do to change that?
First off, we must be exposed and knowledgeable about the funding opportunities provided to all small business owners. Once we are aware of these opportunities we can properly assist female business owners seeking finances in the direction of appropriate funding.