Interview with Odyssey Co-Founder and CCO Ms. Adrian France

Her Campus Holy Cross is always interested in working with like-minded publications, so when we heard that Odyssey Co-Founder and CCO Ms. Adrian France was interested in collaborating with us on an article we jumped at the chance to learn more about her and the company she started with Mr. Evan Burns.

#1. To start off with, can you please explain what Odyssey is?

Evan and I co-founded Odyssey while we were both at Indiana University, because we felt at that time the media was limited to a few sources and truly lacked diversity. We wanted a platform that represented diverse backgrounds and viewpoints, all of which readers could agree or disagree with. Many people don’t have access to global news and so we wanted to provide that. In addition, we wanted a place where people felt free to express themselves, where creators received strong guidance on their writing, and where individuals could truly engage in meaningful conversations with their peers. Most importantly, we wanted to democratize how news was created and distributed.

#2. What were the inspirations and influences behind your decision to co-found Odyssey?

Evan and I both participated in Greek communities while in college, and we noticed at IU things that were happening in our world weren’t being represented on campus, so we wanted to remedy that. In the very beginning Odyssey was a print publication. On the day our first issue was published I walked around campus and saw everyone holding our paper; our newspaper had literally spread like wildfire. After that moment I knew I wanted to pursue Odyssey full time after graduation. In 2014 we went digital, and we currently have 1,200 communities, which is a massive creator network.

#3. Why do you believe Odyssey has become such a permanent fixture both on social media, especially Facebook, and in present-day society? 

In my opinion this occurred, because there were really no outlets for long-form social media before us; we provided a platform that was desperately needed. We see the value of each person’s voice, and we strive for stories that really touch and impact communities. 

#4. Where do you see Odyssey in one year, five years, and ten years?

Our goal for Odyssey in the next year will be going global. We will be in London, and we will be publishing articles in multiple languages including Mandarin and Spanish. Essentially we want to make Odyssey a bigger platform, so that it becomes a household name and is the first thing people consult to check the news. Videos will be a mainstay, and we will add more creator and user features. As for five years and ten years, I honestly don’t know. We’ve grown so much in such a short timeframe; people doubted we could, but we did.

#5. What makes Odyssey stand out from its competitors such as Thought Catalog?

What makes us stand out from our competitors is that we’re the only long-form platform— we’re somewhere between a publisher and social media. We have a strong culture, courageous and unique creators, and a shared vision that is a combination of what creators want to create and what Odyssey wants to create. Finally, when we get feedback from our readers and our creators we make the changes right away.

#6. As an entrepreneur, what advice can you offer for those of us in college who are also interested in starting our own businesses?

If there’s one piece of advice I can offer to all of your readers, it is to read the book The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. I reread it every year as a refresher; it offers harsh and intimidating yet good for you advice. It basically combines every nugget of advice you’ve ever received in your life into one publication. Also, take time to learn on your own— read, educate yourself, and be self-motivated. Don’t have a fear of failure, because you’ll never go out of the box and try new things if you’re scared of failing. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.