How She Got There: Olivia June, Founder & CEO of Hey! VINA

Name: Olivia June
Age: 32
Job Title and Description: Founder and CEO of Hey! VINA, the world’s biggest friendship app for women
College Name/Major: Wake Forest University, transferred to Chapman University, BA Communication Studies
Twitter Handle: @oliviajune
Instagram Handle: @heyoliviajune

Let's be real: Forming healthy friendships as an adult is more difficult than adulting itself. Thankfully, apps like Hey! VINA can help you find supportive friends. Beyond empowering you to make new friends, Hey! VINA also publishes a magazine that helps you navigate stress-relieving topics like meditation to necessary, but painful, issues like friendship breakups

We spoke to the founder and CEO of Hey! VINA, Olivia June, about her app that helps bolster our confidence in finding friends — and she had some critical career advice and insight on life itself. 

Her Campus: What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

Olivia June: My job as CEO of a tech startup has me collaborating and leading every part of the company. It’s a 24/7 responsibility as Hey! VINA has members in 158 countries around the world, so that means we have to be available for issues that happen for our members around the clock. We’re also a really small team, there are only 7 of us, so I work directly with everyone, from talking through engineering challenges with our software team to brainstorming and leading marketing campaigns, actually designing features for the app, to doing press interviews, and to preparing pitch decks to fundraise more capital for the business. No day is the same; the only real daily routine we have is our daily standup meeting. This is a quick company-wide meeting that we do every morning to update everyone on what we achieved yesterday, what our goals are today, and if we need anything from anyone else on the team.

HC: What is the best part of your job?

OJ: My best thing about my work is hearing the amazing stories of all the fun and adventures that our members have thanks to the friends they met on Hey! VINA. I also love that I get to work with an incredible team that I hand-picked to build a product that brings so much good into the world.

HC: What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?

OJ: Entrepreneurship takes experience from every job you ever do, even if it’s not a “career” job. From learning about marketing through doing promotions during college to learning how to manage difficult people as a bartender, and to my first salaried position managing recruitment for market research studies, if you take a mindset of learning, all experience means something! I got a lot of my first gigs by going out, socializing, making friends, networking, representing myself professionally and confidently, and volunteering to work for free at first. Just showing up in a polished way and being confident, listening for opportunity, offering to help, and actually showing up is more valuable than you can ever imagine. The best way to make up for lack of experience is effort and enthusiasm!

HC: What words of wisdom (well-known quotes, an anecdote from your boss) do you find most valuable?

OJ: 'Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.'  - Senaca

I’ve been told I’ve been lucky to have the success that I have, but I think we have a lot more control than we typically give ourselves credit for… especially as women!

HC: What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

OJ: Work is stressful, no matter what you’re doing, you’re going to get stressed. As a first time manager, I made the mistake of taking the stress my boss’s boss gave her, that she took out on me, and then I took it to my team and put a ton of pressure and stress on them. Everyone was freaked out and was underperforming. The mistake I made was taking my stress out on my colleagues. I learned that the stress had to stop with me, and I needed to be the person to put on a big smile, refocus my team, look for our opportunity to succeed, and help my teammates get there. Being emotional, negative, stressed, or upset doesn’t make you a desirable person to work with, and it certainly doesn’t help anyone do their job better. At the end of the day, it’s all business, and none of it is personal.

HC: What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?

OJ: I made the first version of Hey! VINA with my friend from my living room couch. We had no funding, and every VC I spoke would question me asking, “do women really need friends?” as if I was making up the problem we were solving. The day we launched, we got a few press headlines, within hours we had thousands of downloads, within 5 days we were trending on the app store and had more than 100,000 women signed up to get access. The only other app to ever have 100,000 users signup in the first week is Instagram.

HC: What do you look for when considering hiring someone?

OJ: I was learning how to hire a team in my first salaried role, and when trying to figure out who would be a good addition to my team, my boss taught me the most key thing to look for: the ability to anticipate needs.

Completing the work that someone asks you to do and on deadline, is the bare minimum. An all-star employee is someone who finishes their assignments and looks around and see what else they could do, what else needs to happen, how could it be done better, what are opportunities that you see, and either asks if you can do it or just gets it done.

HC: What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

OJ: Don’t worry too much about the end goal right now. Spend at least 5 years just trying things out, live scrappily, sign up for things you’re 'not qualified' to do, don’t worry too much about having 'a mentor' and focus more on building really great relationships with the smartest, most hard-working, and most ambitious peers you have, they might not have a career you admire right now, but you will be able to help each other succeed in your careers in the future more than any mentor can or could possibly care to.

HC: What's the one thing that's stood out to you the most in a resume?

OJ: Great design goes a long way. Better than a resume is making a presentation showing how you are going to bring value to the team.