WAFFA: Meet Vivian Chen, Startup Champion 4/13
New York Times bestselling, two-time World Fantasy Award-winning author and editor Sheree Renée Thomas will talk about Afrofuturism & Diversity in Sci-Fi, in celebration of Black History Month. Wharton Club members and guests are invited.
“Startups are growth machines where you are constantly in search of ‘fast moving water.’ ”
Meet Vivian Chen W11 — she describes herself as a “thinker, tinkerer and a bit of a troublemaker”. She loves to build things, challenge the status quo and help people stand out.
Vivian has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Fast Company, and other media outlets. Her work has been recognized by Forbes as a Next 1000 company, Cartier as a Top 10 Female Founded Company in North America, JP Morgan as a Woman on the Move, and Barclays as a leader for the Future of Work.
When Vivian Chen W11 first got involved with WAFFA in 2019, she was raising money for her start-up, Rise — a professional network that connects candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds to top companies and careers.
One of her biggest learnings as a startup founder is the need for constant growth and reinvention. While 2021 was a year of stellar growth for RISE, the downturn in hiring in 2022 led to a focus on helping the candidate stand out vs. the employer. She and her team quickly pivoted to develop a new platform — Heyo, an app backed by BAM Ventures, Dispatch Ventures, Scouts from a16z, Foundation Capital and more.
Heyo is a way for professionals to tell their stories in bite-sized videos or audio clips, allowing them to showcase their skills, personality and unique experiences in a much more engaging and personal way. Potential investors, employers, and collaborators can get to know you on a more personal level, which can help build connection and trust.
Just take a look at Vivian’s LinkedIn profile — in the bio section she has a line that says “Learn more about me on Heyo” — and you click there or scan the QR code. You’ll see a video that gives you a great sense of who she is, along with endorsements from a colleague, etc. Here’s short demo of the product directly in her Heyo. And here is me — trying it out. (What do you think?
Mark your calendar because on Thursday April 13th at 12pmPT / 3pm ET we are going to have a fireside chat with Vivian. She’ll fill us in on her experiences as a founder and she’ll share the “secret sauce” — her unique take on what it takes to raise money (hint — leave your deck in the office).
Tell us a bit about your company
Heyo is a video-based professional storytelling platform, like TikTok for LinkedIn.
What inspired you to start your business — what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?
Heyo was inspired by the idea that people are more than just a list of qualifications on a piece of paper. It started when we were hiring for a Community Manager position for Rise (our sister product) and we received over 3,000 applications. While that was amazing, it was also really hard to tell people apart. So, we thought, wouldn’t it be awesome if we could meet people faster and really get a sense of who they are beyond their resume?
That’s why we created Heyo, a way for professionals to tell their stories in bite-size videos or audio clips, allowing them to showcase their skills, personality, and unique experiences in a much more engaging and personal way.
LinkedIn has been around for over 20 years and with the rise of platforms like TikTok, we saw an opportunity in the market for a new solution that would revolutionize the way people present themselves professionally.
What is it about your personal background, experience, or perspective that fuels your passion for this venture?
As someone who has pivoted careers from CPG to tech, I understand the frustration of being reduced to a list of bullet points on a resume or LinkedIn profile. I started Heyo to give professionals a way to showcase themselves beyond a traditional resume and tell their unique stories through video and audio.
My experience in building Rise, and my passion for technology have fueled the drive to create a new solution that is more engaging, personal, and efficient for both professionals and companies..
What are one or two of the biggest wins or most encouraging experiences you’ve had so far?
When I first had the idea for Heyo, I wanted to validate the concept, so I cold DMed an a16z scout who had extensive experience in marketplaces, marketing, and consumer tech, having previously grown both Masterclass and Uber. We brainstormed and workshopped the idea for Heyo together, and after just two calls, he was so convinced by the idea that he asked to become an investor.
What has been one or two of your biggest learnings so far?
Being a startup founder is about constant growth and reinvention. There are some things you can control and there are things you can’t. For us, 2021 was a year of stellar growth for our recruiting solution Rise, where we experienced what it was like to have product market fit.
Then 2022 happened, and talks of a tech downturn, layoffs, a looming recession, all of which impacted the recruiting world tremendously. We had to make a choice — either weather the storm to survive or take proactive steps to thrive. We chose the latter.
Startups are growth machines where you are constantly in search of ‘fast moving water’.
How can the WAFFA community help you?
Check out heyo.at! You can sign up or share it with a friend, coworker, or any who wants to stand out from the crowd!
What has been the most rewarding thing about starting your own business?
Starting my own business has been an incredibly rewarding experience, but the most rewarding thing by far has been the opportunity to work with such an amazing team.
Our team is made up of committed, passionate individuals from non-traditional backgrounds — for example, our designer used to be a circus acrobat (I’m not making this up), our PM owned a successful agency before he turned 23 and our Marketing Director danced professionally on cruise ships — getting to work with them is truly a privilege each day.
We share a common goal of making Heyo the best it can be, and it’s incredible to see everyone bring their unique perspectives and expertise to the table. Seeing the team come together and collaborate on projects is truly inspiring, and I feel fortunate to be surrounded by such talented and motivated individuals.
Click here to reserve your place for the program