Your People | Georgene Huang of Fairygodboss
Imagine that you’re Cinderella, except instead of worrying about linking up with Prince Charming (who has time?), you’re more concerned about finding a job that you care about that’s going to pay you equally as much as your male counterpart. Luckily, in 2019, you still have a fairy godmother that’s here to help bippity-boppity-boo your way to success. Fairygodboss, founded by Georgene Huang, is the largest career community for women, providing millions of women with connections, jobs, and career advice. We spoke to Georgene about the challenges she faced bringing her vision to improve the workplace for women to life.
Hey girl. For the people that are unfamiliar with what Fairygodboss is, how would you describe it to them?
Our mission has always been to improve the workplace for women. Not just for a small group of women or employers in any one industry, but for hundreds of millions of women who are in the workforce and working for employers around the globe. We’re focused on connecting with more women, continually improving our product, and building a company that our employees love working for. I believe doing this means we’ll eventually be the career community for all women in the future.
Amazing! So think Glassdoor with an added feature that helps you avoid working for misogynistic assholes. Love it. What other aspects of Fairygodboss make it successful?
I’m very analytical and data-driven (previously, I ran the enterprise business at Dow Jones and was a Managing Director at Bloomberg Ventures), which allows me to test and adjust ideas. By testing varying product features with Fairygodboss, we’ve been able to create a community that addresses the topics and needs of career-minded women. If you marry anecdotal things you learn from users with data about what they actually do, I find that you’re able to come up with better, more successful ideas.
You are such a boss. I literally can’t. Did all those years working on Wall Street prepare you for starting your own company?
When we first started it was literally me and my Co-Founder, Romy Newman, working by ourselves in our apartments (and a lot of cafes!). Every day we would send out hundreds of emails hoping someone would respond. I remember waking up at 5am to talk on the phone with our website designers who were located in Armenia to go over new features, additions, or issues we were having. Starting a company takes a lot of determination and consists of a lot of no’s (or no replies!), but I knew there were other women who could benefit from a resource like Fairygodboss so we just kept going until we started getting responses. So for anyone who feels stuck, my best advice is to keep going. Change your tactics or trajectory, but don't give up because roadblocks are just a part of the process!
Learning to be resilient when you’re facing rejection after rejection is something a lot of people have a hard time with (including me), but it’s what sets the entrepreneurs that are successful apart. Is there any other advice would you give to women looking to go down a similar path?
I'm a female co-founder. While owning a business is hard, regardless of who you are, one uphill battle that my co-founder and I have had to face is around getting VC funding. Recent data has shown that female founders only received 2.2% of venture funding in 2018, so if you're starting a company whose products or services cater to women, you have to spend more time thinking about how to convince a potential investor (who is typically an older, white male) that you are solving a real and important problem. Imagine if you were starting a lipstick company, for example. While men understand what lipstick is and that many women wear it, it’s not solving a problem that they have experienced first hand. Therefore, the whole premise of your business is foreign to them. We had to learn how to pitch to male investors and make them not only understand what we are doing with Fairygodboss, but make them understand why it’s so important. Encouraging venture capitalists to invest in female-led businesses is certainly one way to help remedy this, but getting women into positions of power and leadership is key.