It’s Female Founder Friday! A time to spotlight an amazing woman entrepreneur and her startup story. Today I am honored to introduce you to Tiffany Pham! Tiffany and I connected a few months ago, and aside from the obvious female founder status, we both had strong relationships with our inspiring grandmothers and a tenacity that helped us overcome massive obstacles in common. I admire the fact that she taught herself to code, took time to answer thousands of letters asking for her advice, and how she is purposefully using the success of her company to create positive impact for women around the world.
Tiffany is the founder of Mogul an award-winning technology platform reaching 18 million women per week across 196 countries and 30,470 cities. Mogul is ultimately democratizing information for women worldwide by enabling users to connect, share information, and access knowledge from each other.
Through the Mogul At Work division, Mogul’s partnerships with J. Crew, Hearst, Samsung, IBM, Estée Lauder, Colliers, Stanley Black & Decker, the NYC Department of Education, and more enable Mogul to impact and influence the ways in which companies communicate with women in the workplace, enabling them to attract, retain, and advance diverse talent. And, for every $1 Mogul earns, Mogul provides a free education to 1 woman in need through our partnerships with organizations worldwide such as UN Women.
If you are a woman who wants to change the world, or someone who is self-taught in any field, don’t miss Tiffany’s candid answers to my questions below.
What inspired you to create your company?
The inspiration behind Mogul harks back to my family and history. My family had been in media for generations, and early on, I made a promise that I would dedicate my life toward our family legacy of providing information access to the world.
I also initially learned the English language through media, as a young girl. Reflecting back on that experience, I discovered what a powerful tool media could be for learning, for change.
Personally, I have always loved learning languages. There is something so fascinating about being able to communicate with someone using a language other than your native tongue!
Plus, being able to speak multiple languages has a wide range of advantages in the corporate world. Moreover, thanks to business language training in the UK for example, it has never been easier for aspiring linguists to pick up new languages that can be used in business environments.
For me though, consuming foreign language media helped me to master my skills.
Thus, after graduating from Yale and Harvard Business School, I went on to hold multiple roles within media simultaneously: at a media corporation, within TV and radio; with the Beijing government, collaborating on a new venture bridging cultural gaps between the U.S. and China; and producing feature films and documentaries highlighting social issues that needed more global awareness.
Young women around the world would read about my three roles, and as time went on, I would receive hundreds of letters–and eventually thousands of letters–per day, asking for advice. “What articles are you reading every day?” they would ask. “What videos are you watching?”
I realized then that we needed a platform whereby millions of us could exchange our insights from the ground level, where we could share our careers, our lives, our journeys. And from that exchange of information, we could gain access to knowledge from one another and become that much stronger, that much better.
Every day, I would, therefore, work on my three jobs, and then at night, at 3 a.m., I would sit down at the kitchen table and just teach myself how to code Ruby on Rails.
Ultimately, I built the first iteration of Mogul, a worldwide platform that now reaches more than 18 million women across 196 countries, enabling them to connect, share information, and access knowledge from one another.
What was your biggest obstacle and failure in going from idea to business?
For the first three years, building the organization’s internal infrastructure to support our external growth was our strongest challenge. We had to retroactively build the infrastructure because I was a one-person team upon launch, supporting a million users on my own within the first week.
Over time, I was able to onboard the rest of our now world-class team, bringing on many with whom I had previously collaborated. Our departments–Product and Technology, Content and Community, Marketing and Partnerships, Business Development and Mogul At Work, and Operations and Growth–are now led by some of my greatest friends and business collaborators. Now, our infrastructure has been fortified.
With Mogul widely regarded as the next generation media company for women, we aim to continue accelerating change across: (1) information access, (2) job opportunity, and (3) education.
1. Information Access: Right now, women represent just 15% of share of voice on op-eds and boards. Mogul is accelerating this rate by encouraging women to share their insights at the ground level, to speak up and share their voice at the earliest stages of their lives – our community enables one another, supports each other to have courage and confidence.
2. Job Opportunity: Women represent just 10-20% of top leadership positions in the US, such that it will take until 2085 for women to reach parity with men. We must therefore encourage those in hiring positions to seek top talent, beyond what they may sometimes be used to or comfortable with. For this reason, Mogul enables users to post jobs and tap top female talent on our platform, such as our partners IBM, Samsung NEXT, J.Crew, Estee Lauder Companies, eBay, and Stanley Black & Decker.
3. Education: There are 62 million girls around the world who do not have access to an education. And with Mogul’s global scale and reach, we are in a unique position to effect change. Thus, we now offer Mogul Learning, named one of the top resources for online mentorship and learning alongside Harvard Business School and Coursera. We provide women with access to nearly 1,200 award-winning course modules developed by experts, accompanied by resources for resume review as well as a mentorship channel that they can email 24/7 with questions across life and career.
For every $1 Mogul earns, Mogul provides a free education to 1 woman in need through our partnerships with organizations worldwide such as UN Women.
Please share your best piece of advice for aspiring female founders.
Talent: Collaborate for access. Find industry leaders with whom your interests might resonate, and obtain warm introductions through mutual connections. Learn what opportunities might enable you to collaborate with them in order to learn from them. Whatever task you’re given, whatever partnership you agree to, ensure that you over deliver for them. Earn their trust, and build a genuine friendship.
Technology: Establish your vision of what you would like to accomplish in 10 years, then backwards from five years to now. Whatever it is you would like to create, rapidly prototype this idea. Then, listen to others and incorporate their feedback.
Community: Be kind. Be authentic. Be generous. Stay in touch with why you wanted to start this company in the first place, why it’s important for the world.
If you had a theme song what would it be?
“My way,” by Calvin Harris.