Tiffany Pham is just shy of 30 years old and she’s already had a lifetime of accomplishments. The Yale graduate has been a producer of films such as “Land of Enchantment,” starring Golden Globes nominee Patricia Arquette, and “Arcadia,” featuring Academy Award nominee John Hawkes.
Her resume is impressive. She holds board seats on variety of esteemed organizations, including the New York City Ballet. However, today Pham is known for something else – being the founder of Mogul, a groundbreaking online news aggregator and publishing platform for women. Reaching more than 18 million women worldwide each week, the platform allows users to engage with content that matters to them. Users can view stories, products and job postings, which are personalized to their interests, locations or careers. They can contribute to the popularity and trending of an item by giving it an up or down vote.
Mogul is poised to shift the tide in online content generation and user engagement. Pham’s desire to impact women precedes the creation of her startup. Far before she was being voted “Top NYC Startup to Watch” by Entrepreneur magazine or making Forbes’ “30 under 30” in media list, Pham was born to a family who had been steeped in news for generations.
“My grandmother ran several newspapers across Asia. She believed in empowering and emboldening those around her. When I moved from Paris [where I was born] to Texas, I started to understand how powerful media could be when I, ultimately, started learning how to speak English through watching television and reading books. By the time I was 14, when my grandmother passed away, I made a promise I would continue in her footsteps,” Pham said.
And continue she did. By the time Pham was in her mid-20s she had navigated from the news outlet BBC to HBO to CBS, where she handled strategic business partnerships for 150 properties within 29 U.S. cities. When she began delving into her work in the film industry, Pham started receiving letters from women asking for career advice and job interviewing tips and she asked herself: instead of doing this on a one-on-one basis, what if I created a platform that provided this type of information all of the time? She could affect masses of women at once.
“I started to realize that this could be the way that I carried out that vision from when I was 14,” Pham said.
She was brazen, too. The platform she wanted to create didn’t exist and so while working her day gigs and in the midst of writing a book, she decided to build the structure herself.
“Every day I would work my three jobs and then at night, I would sit down at the kitchen table at 2 a.m. and teach myself coding. The first four to five months of Mogul, I was a one-person team. I was working from my bedroom. Around month five, I hired. Two [employees] became three and a year and a half later, we’re a team of 25. Most of our hires are extremely talented women. Most were contributors already. It kind of organically happened. Right now we have three interns who are graduating early to join Mogul full-time.” Her brother David is also on board as the company’s chief technology officer.
Pham said the key to Mogul’s early success was bootstrapping. “We started to break even from advertising revenue. In the meantime, we have brought in some of the amazing investors from Twitter to LinkedIn and the co-founder of Match.com.”
With Mogul enabling women to share information in real-time, Pham is thrilled that Mogul is playing a role in accelerating the diminishing of professional gaps between men and women. She said they constantly ask themselves, “what greater good can we create through our platform? Perhaps would could do so through girls’ education. Some around the world can’t access information.”
Mogul already offers courses covering subjects like career, education, engineering, fitness and travel for women on their website onmogul.com. So joining The 62 Million Girls campaign was a natural extension of their work. Through the initiative, for every course purchased, Mogul distributes the course to communities in need for free through various partners. Each course includes 12 lessons, insider tips and resources and offers self-evaluation through utilizing assessment quizzes and guided homework.
Back in October 2015 during the announcement of the initiative, Mogul Courses Director Natasha Birnbaum said, “the courses are designed to provide all of the essentials to women, disrupting the cycle preventing 62 million girls worldwide from being in school. Because of our global reach we are in a unique position to affect change and close the educational gap.”
Recipe for Success
Pham admits that being the developer of her own platform was crucial to its success. “I’m a woman and because I created this female-oriented platform, it enabled me to speak to people who had aligned interests and passions in this world. The journey of Mogul required some foresight and for me to maximize my time. That foresight was exercised by building up the product in advance. That’s one of the biggest differentiators because I already thought to myself, ‘well, I am a woman minority and I am representing a media platform – which has not always been the most popular tech investment.’ Already having it built out allowed me to showcase the demand. That’s why it was key that I build it in advance. I was able to show the numbers and stand firm on this being a needed product because the metrics [validated it].”
The digital realm evolves at such a rapid pace and Pham is making sure that Mogul evolves just as quickly. She said when they look at where the platform is headed for 2025, Mogul is aligned with all of the digital trends.
“Many women around the world have important things to say and don’t particularly have a place to say it. So Mogul, at the ground level, gave them a place to share it. We believe our content will come from many different sources in the future and we’re a platform that is leveraging that belief. Content will become increasingly important. Its authenticity. Authenticity is one of our driving factors. It has to connect with the reader and they have to feel the truth behind the story. Content will continue to grow personalized toward the reader instead of feeding them information they do not care about,” Pham said.
Pham reminds women to remain steadfast. “It’s about becoming resilient first and foremost. Regardless of the industry you’re in, you’re going to hear tons of nos. It’s not even a no, it’s a not right now. Transform those nos into yeses. Build trust with your user. Believe in your brand, your sight. One of the key trends for content is to trust your brand and not to stray from that in anyway. It’s the way you differentiate yourself in the landscape.”
She also said it’s important for women to manage our finances so that we are bringing in enough cash to support our current team and investing in the future of the company. For now, Pham is focusing on growing Mogul to its maximum potential. “I believe it can create so much good in the world. I think for me it truly has been my end goal. I expect to grow with it. I think Mogul will continue to evolve in a way that will be in line with how the world grows and evolves. As long as it stays within its mission of enabling women, that mission can be fulfilled in different ways.”
Like keeping a promise to your 14-year-old self.
Next week we’re sharing Tiffany Pham’s thoughts on working in a multicultural world and what keeps her motivated.