Can you tell us more about how you landed on the name “Acciyo”?
We started off as Smart News, but quickly learned that was taken. We’re huge Harry Potter fans on the team, so I began searching for Harry Potter spells for fun. Right towards the top of the list was “accio,” which means to summon, both in the wizarding world and in Latin. We like to think our machine learning that summons news for you involves a little bit of magic too.
How did Acciyo get started?
I started my career studying journalism and working at the Metro Desk at The Boston Globe before pivoting to a five-year career in tech at Boston-based HubSpot. By the time I started business school, I realized how much I missed media. I wanted to return to that world through the lens of optimization. So, I married my two backgrounds together and started looking at media as a tech problem.
Nothing has stopped me since! I’ve faced rejection, skepticism, and many struggles along the way. However, the hardest problems are the ones worth solving. I found there’s a massive need for better tools to navigate the deluge of content that exists on the internet, but few companies are really thinking about what reader information needs are in a 24/7 world.
How did you meet your co-founder? How do you work together?
Vivian and I were introduced through a mutual connection. We actually overlapped in Boston for about ten years. However, it wasn’t until I was in LA for my MBA internship at Snapchat that someone mentioned another MIT graduate now in LA who spent her two years on campus exploring the future of news through design and technology. We met for coffee and ended up having a lengthy, genuine conversation around where we see news thriving.
Vivian was so dedicated, she began working on building some of my initial mockups and ideas, collaborating with me for a few months before ultimately joining as co-founder. The help she provided on her own free time was a sign of passion and commitment that I hadn’t seen from anyone else I had previously spoken with on the journey of “co-founder dating”.
How do you handle risk and competition?
We’re most committed to our audience and our unique approach to what we’re building. We’ve heard time and time again the issues readers have keeping up with news, navigating content, and generally understanding the world they’re living in. We’ve invested two years into building our database, scrapers, and unique approach to how we understand and present content. We know that by putting our user needs first, we’ll continue to be of value to the people who need it.
What’s been the #1 (or two) top challenges you’ve faced while launching your company?
Bias in fundraising. As a startup founded by two women of color, we’re constantly put on the defense. Time and time again, we are asked for much more than our male counterparts. We’ve watched men raise complete seed rounds while every woman of color founded-startup we know continues to struggle and live check-to-check. Our pace is largely determined by the lack of VC funding going to minority-run companies.
You’ve participated in a few fellowships and mentorship programs. What has that experience been like? What have you gained and learned?
We had the unique pleasure of participating in MIT’s Equity-Free Program post-graduation. It was a great way to transition into the real world of being a startup founder and also a learning experience in the power of building your own belief in your business. We received lots of advice, ideas, and feedback. However, the feedback that’s benefited us the most has been what we’ve heard from our target users and our own team. There are many people that want to help you grow.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Senior year of high school - success is the best revenge.
What’s your team culture like?
Our team recently decided to pivot to become completely remote forever. We’ve since been more intentional about daily virtual check-ins. These aren’t meetings, but rather a place for the team to chat, vent, and just hangout virtually. It’s been a great form of team bonding. We’re a mission-driven team that connects on ways the world can improve and change; while also sharing stories of our respective cats.
What is your superpower?
Results-driven storytelling. There’s this constant tension in communications/marketing between if your content should be human-driven or metrics-driven. I truly believe there’s a balance of both, and thrive in telling meaningful stories that also lead to meaningful results.
What’s your kryptonite?
I hate building spreadsheets or any sort of financial projections. I do it, but I’d much rather have the confidence of analyzing something presented to me versus digging through it myself.
Do you have any unusual routines or habits?
I’m a big believer in naps. I don’t drink coffee and prefer to take a 30-minute power nap instead.
Do you have any other hobbies/things you like to do in your spare time?
I love playing volleyball, hiking, and cooking. Tackling a new recipe is the best form of wellness for me and helps to clear my mind.
What’s been your experience as a female founder?
I actually like to separate this question specifically into minority female founder. The struggles for women of color in fundraising are unique in that there’s hardly anywhere we belong. Whether a male-dominated or female-dominated fund, very few funds are minority dominated where someone is willing to take that bet and help us rise.