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Coffee With: KeepUp App Cofounder And CEO Lauren Washington

Estimated reading time ~ 3 min
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Lauren Washington
Location: New York, NY
Job: Cofounder and CEO, KeepUp
Education: B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill; MBA Northwestern Kellogg School of Management

How did you get your start as an entrepreneur?

Well, I had three jobs when I was 11, most of which I landed by working out deals with my neighbors: I babysat most of the kids on the block (inspired by The Babysitter’s Club!); worked at my neighbor’s candy shop; and “sourced” tomatoes from another neighbor’s garden, selling them at a tomato stand in front of my house. So I’d say my entrepreneurial spirit started very early on. My first job as an adult was with Teach for America. I taught special education to elementary students in East New York. Seeing how children learn through their failures, iterating to adapt to your audience, taking baby steps to reach larger year long goals all translate to entrepreneurship. It also built up my grit – teachers don’t get enough credit for how hard their jobs are!

Tell us about your current company, KeepUp, and how it came to be.

KeepUp is an app that compiles a person’s social media channels into one convenient newsfeed. We just launched the beta of our business tool, so a lot of my time right now is spent focusing on getting new customers onto the platform and improving our product. I was inspired to start KeepUp while working at a social media agency that was mining social media conversations for insights that brands could use to improve their business. Seeing all the possibilities with social media data inspired me to create a solution that took that notion one step further and created a win-win scenario for brands and users. By using algorithms to automatically find moments to celebrate, brands can create more authentic relationships with their followers and customers can get a discount on products and services exactly when they need them.

As a CEO with a lot of responsibilities, how do you stay organized?

I keep a very detailed, segmented to-do list via Apple Reminders. This helps me set priorities and due dates and be able to manage everything from my phone or computer. The other key is a highly organized inbox. We use Gmail for Business for KeepUp, so it’s easy for me to create filters, segment out important emails, and make use of extensions like Boomerang that remind me to follow up.

What are some of the ways you go about getting new customers onto the platform and improving the product?

We’re currently testing a lead generation feature where businesses can find people based on what they’re talking about publicly online. While we’re a social media company, marketing can never be a one channel endeavor. So in addition to social media, we use a combination of marketing tactics: email, SEO, website testing, and online ads. Product improvement comes from customer feedback and lots of internal testing.

Lauren Washington

Describe the most memorable moment of your career to date.

The most memorable moment was winning a startup competition called 43North competition in 2014. It was a long-shot, and we were up against such incredible companies that it wasn’t even on my radar as a real viable option for me at the time. Having an entire theater give you a standing ovation for something you’re passionate about is incredibly humbling.

How have certain candidates stood out to you during the hiring process?

It’s all the small niceties of interviewing that stand out to me. If a candidate is prompt with replies, has done research on us, comes prepared with questions, and sends a genuine thank-you note, that really makes them stand out. It may seem obvious, but the majority of people don’t do these simple things, so if you do, you’ll put yourself in a different category.

What have you read or listened to recently that you’d recommend (and why)?

I recently read Chuck Klosterman’s But What If We’re Wrong?, and it completely blew my mind. It will completely changed my perspective of our current reality, how we perceive things, and where we might go in the future – which for entrepreneurs is crucial to think about.

What advice do you wish you could have given yourself on day one of your career?

Success isn’t a straightforward path. Keep pushing and you will ultimately reach your goals

Images courtesy of Lauren Washington

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