10 Points for Growing Your Startup from Joy Marcus, CEO, Investor, Wife and Mother


Joy Marcus

Recently, The New York Code + Design Academy hosted “Women in Tech Lecture Series” at their headquarters in New York City. The guest of the night was Joy Marcus, the CEO of Bloglovin, a site where people can find blogs of varying interests, ranging from fashion to entertainment. Addressing a predominantly female audience, Marcus talked about her experiences in the field of tech and business.

Marcus started out as a lawyer at a huge law firm. She then moved to the corporate side, working as a lawyer forMTV before the world of tech and business caught her eye. She had no training outside of the legal profession,, so her transition from law to business was, as she calls it, “non-traditional.” And this was going on at a time when the tech and digital world was slowly taking over.

“You could see the trajectory,” she said. “ Even then people were willing to shift their users, how they spend their downtime, gradually, from television to spending more time online.”

She was offered a job at Amazon to run their affiliate network, but had to turn it down due to her pregnancy. However, she accepted the same job with Barnes and Nobles and started a program with them, which allowed her to stay in New York.

“It was far less successful,” she said. “But it was far better suited to my life.”

She then transitioned and spent years working for AOL and Time Warner before being offered a job at DailyMotion, a video site much like Youtube, and which was based in Paris. She worked on developing a U.S. market for them for a while, before the company was sold to France Telecom S.A., now Orange S.A. It was at this point that she became a venture capitalist.

Although there were many women who worked at DailyMotion, Marcus noticed that she was the only woman on the management team. At the venture capital firm, she was the only woman at the firm. Period.

“It was like we were living on an alternate planet,” she said. “It was really eye-opening for me.”

Marcus then joined a friend’s New York-based venture capital firm, Gotham Ventures, with whom she is still a Venture Partner.

In 2013, she was contacted by a friend from AOL, who asked her if she ever considered running a company again. At first, she declined because she loved what she was doing, but decided to try anyhow. She is now CEO of that company, Bloglovin.

The majority of Bloglovin’s bloggers and subscribers are women.

In addition to being a businesswoman, she is also a wife and mother, and she balances all her responsibilities on a daily basis.

During the Q&A portion of the evening, one attendee asked for advice on how to handle sexism and women jokes from peers in the business.

“Let the minor stuff go,” she said. “Confront the major stuff.”

The subject came up of how female bosses try to act like men in leadership roles, in order to avoid being treated differently. Marcus said that as long as women act appropriately and get the job done, there is no need to act like men. However, she also admits that women have to try to do better than their male counterparts.

Marcus also gave a short presentation on growing startups. Here are her tips on how to successfully build a startup:

  1. Set strategic goals. Have a vision, a strategy, and a product.
  2. Align the organization. Crush bureaucracy.
  3. Learn how to hire. Employees are the heart and soul of the company.
  4. Think about diversity.
  5. Communicate and don’t hide information.
  6. Stop talking and start listening and asking questions.
  7. Don’t forget to measure data.
  8. Consider the customer. Put yourself in their place and think about your experience with the product. Was it good, bad, or mediocre?
  9. Always take risks because “this is a risky business and it’s all about risk-taking.”
  10. Work hard because “there are no shortcuts in business.”

“This is a tough industry for women,” Marcus admitted.

But that should only inspire women to work harder to make it.


Image credit:  Twitter

About the author: Caithlin Pena

Caithlin is a recent graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism.  At  Stony Brook, she wrote for the Stony Brook Press as well as the Statesman.


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