Entrepreneur Profile: Sarah Ware, Founder of Markerly
Markerly, a recently launched startup based out of Washington DC and founded by LivingSocial veteran Sarah Ware, is seeking to simplify the process of sharing articles online to provide a better user experience for consumers of digital media.
The site, described by Sarah Ware as “the Pinterest for text, with a dash of EverNote, a sprinkle of Digg and a hint of Twitter,” allows users to highlight specific parts of an article to be shared with friends for simplified reading and to mark important information. Elite Daily recently caught up with Sarah for a brief interview to gain some insight into the workings of the company and Sarah as an entrepreneur.
What that led to the development of Markerly? Were there any specific trends that you recognized in social media that spurred you to create Makerly?
Localized content and bookmarking is something that's been vastly ignored in the text community. If you look at Pinterest, it allows you to bookmark and organize photos. Markerly is the same, but it focuses on specific content within the web page. I noticed this trend with Pinterest and I wanted to get on the bandwagon and start testing for text. Everyday we share, save, and bookmark, and I wanted something that allowed you to do it all and really showed the world who you are by what you engage in online.
As a professional woman and entrepreneur would you say you have faced sexism in your rise to success?
The sexism thing is interesting. As far as men mistreating me or objectifying me, there's no more sexism in business than in my everyday life. If a man doesn't respect women it doesn't matter if you're at the office or at a bar, they're the same. For every one man I meet that doesn't respect women, there's 10 more that do, so I really just keep calm and carry on in those situations. I never take it personally. If that one man is a gatekeeper, I'll just stay polite and work around him. You really can't let it fluster you, or else they win. Success speaks for itself. As far as sexism holding me back, I think that's just a false objection. Don't get me wrong, It's definitely harder for women, but harder doesn't mean impossible. If you want something, you try and try again!
The word social network is overly used and widely applied to a range or websites. What is the biggest misconception that most people have about developing a social network platform?
That if you build it, people will come. Technically anything that involves communicating with others is a social network. Social networks can be general or really niche (think social networking for weight loss, new moms, etc.) Yeah there are tons of social networks out there, but they aren't all trying to be the next Facebook. Zuckerberg's first thought wasn't to create a social network where you can share your baby pics with your grandma, find a spouse, keep tabs on your little sister, and keep in touch with high school friends. He just wanted to see the cute girls in his class. Who knows, the next social network might stem out of something that allows high schoolers and college students to maintain some type of privacy with their peers. Not all 16-year-olds are thrilled about being friends with their entire extended family on Facebook! The generality organically evolves because of many factors. So think small, dream big, and nail it.
Where do see yourself professionally in 5,10, and 50 years?
Professionally in 5 years: Ideally I'd like to create a network of female angels where the gift keeps on giving. I'm big on karma, the law of attraction, etc. In 10 years I hope to have a family. I have no shame in saying that yes, I want a few kiddos in my brood. When that happens, I'm sure that my life experiences will be inspiring me to do something child-related, be it a summer camp for inner city children, whatever. You know, your life inspires you. In 50 years, I want to be healthy and proud. I hope that my life and my choices will have made other people's lives better, and so on and so forth. Life's all about touching people along the way.
Has the rise of powerful women in tech and entrepreneurship in the last five years inspired you personally in any ways? Would you say that you're a direct beneficiary of the gender bending changes we've seen in the professional world?
Kind of. Up until recently, I didn't have any personal and professional female role models, mentors or advisors. I'm starting to meet some, and it's great to be understood that way by others. Sorry guys, sometimes you just don't "get it!" All the women that I've looked up to professionally previously have been via a screen (tv or computer). So I've been the beneficiary, indirectly I'd say.
Who were your biggest inspirations to move to create a venture within the tech industry?
Honestly I look up to and admire everyone that takes a risk and starts their own business. Not enough credit's given to the little guy. Obviously I admire all the successful founders that have created tech empires, but when you meet someone that's pursing their passion, you can't help but be inspired and admire them equally. You can learn from everyone if you have an open mind. I went to SXSW '12 and every person there contributed to my leap of faith in pursing Markerly full time.
Being a full time entrepreneur is a full time commitment. At what point did you realize that success was imminent and you were in it for the long run?
Ha well, I had a bit of a health scare a few months ago. (I'm okay, don't worry!) When you go through something like that, you start to think, "am I doing enough? What do I regret in life? What can I do better? Have I actually contributed anything of value to the world?!" That was my pushing point. I was like, "Sarah, you're alive. Build what you want to build." I'm a really frugal person, so I've been saving a lot of money from over the years to give me a good run way when I wanted to pursue a passion. I sold all of my furniture, and downsized into a cute little studio apartment with a Murphy bed! I've poured everything into my company (as have my partners), and I'm happy with that choice 110%. If I were to be gone tomorrow, the only thing I would regret is being too cautious to take that risk. When you really believe in something, and you live that vision day in and day out, there's nothing you won't do to make it possible.
How important have mentors been to you? Is there anyone specific that has been a guiding force for you?
This is such a loaded question because there's so many people out there who have helped me more than they realize in many different ways. My number one is obviously my dad, whose a real life example of how anyone can achieve the American Dream with selfless hard work and perseverance. He seriously came from nothing and is a man of character.
What are your immediate ambitions for your company as a tech professional?
Immediate ambitions include focusing in on our mobile strategy. We have some really neat new features we are working on. My team is ridiculous. They can build anything. Absolute rockstars.
And what about long-term goals? What do you envision for your company over the upcoming years?
Markerly will be the premiere way to save and share content online whether it's to your blog, colleague, friend, teacher, social networks, or organization. Whether you are writing a research paper, traveling to a new city and learning about the buildings you are walking by, sharing business articles to twitter, sharing code with your friends, or keeping track of your favorite politicians, Markerly is going to be your one-stop-shop. It's going to make life so much easier in so many ways, keeping track of everything you are sharing online in a timeline-way, and being able to read the internet, summarized. I really can't talk too much about all the developments we are making on the back-end, but in the next year we are going to be rolling out some truly amazing features. Truly.