How to Start a Business that’s Pure Wow



Lisa Hyman, Senior Vice President of Lead Dog Marketing moderated another great fireside chat at the Lafayette outpost of We Work Lounge in lower Manhattan.  Ryan Harwood, CEO of Pure Wow, was in the hot seat to discuss his revolutionary business engine, Pure Wow, a digital lifestyle site devoted to women 30 and above. Founded in 2010, Forbes recently placed it as #83 on America’s most promising list of companies.

While it caters to a national wide demographic, Pure Wow has local chapters in Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, and New York City, where it’s headquartered.

What became evident when listening to Harwood was a sense of optimism and commitment.  He cares about and is inspired by women.  Growing up with a supportive mother and a few sisters to boot, Harwood demonstrated that he has ability to understand and the willingness to listen.

After spending five years at Goldman Sachs, the Wharton graduate and former professional tennis player was looking for a change.  After a bit of self-reflection, he decided to abandon the male dominated waters of Wall Street, and created a media brand with lifestyle content, operated by and created for women.

Its backers include Whoopi Goldberg, Liz Smith, Joni Evans, Thrillist, and Bob Pitman, CEO of Clear Channel and founding member of Pilot Group.  Each published article is “thoroughly researched, tested, and crafted by an editorial staff.”  The company’s motto: “Elevate the Everyday.”

And Harwood stays very much involved in the everyday, right down to hiring staff. Harwood meets each prospective candidate before a decision is made.

“It is important who each person is.  Do they have passion?”

With the exception of two male employees, the rest of the staff consists of women.

And unlike his staff, Harwood had no knowledge of media or publishing, which didn’t stop or deter him from taking a plunge.

“Timing is everything,” he said.  “I don’t want to waste it.”

Nor has he.  Pure Wow took in $3 million in revenue in 2013, with more in projected earnings for 2014.  Advertisers include Bloomindales, PepsiCo, CBS, Procter and Gamble, and many more.

His subscriber base continues to grow, and he doesn’t take a single reader for granted.

“Your most valuable asset is your audience. Without them, I wouldn’t be here.”

His transformation from financial professional and the world of three piece suits and old boys clubs to assuming the helm of a lifestyle empire geared to women and where he is surrounded by intelligent, high powered women is commendable. And quite remarkable.

It was an informative evening that seemed to provide a forum where others could ponder their own life’s decisions and ask themselves what do they really want to do, who do they want to be, where do they want to do it, and why?  From Harwood’s point of view that means following your instincts, doing your research, and above all, pursuing something you enjoy that makes you feel that pure wow.

Image credit: CC by LeadDog ‏@LeadDog  on Twitter

About the author: Mark Michael Stephens

Mark Michael Stephens is a professional writer specializing in pop culture, technology, human rights, and trends.  Mark has contributed to numerous publications and is honing a novel on growing up in Nevada.  He has a BA with Honors from The New School and lives in Manhattan.

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