“The Road Is There:” How This European Tech CEO Is Monetizing Your Social Media

“The Road Is There:”

How This European Tech CEO Is Monetizing Your Social Media

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There is perhaps nothing so encouraging than a female tech CEO with two kids of her own.

Maria Raga, current CEO of Depop, the Instagramesque app that allows you to sell your clothes online, believes the climate in Europe for working women has changed exponentially, and the barriers to entry no longer exist.

The curated content on the app makes for very clean viewing and easy buying. It leans into the influencer aesthetic that makes up much of millennials feeds on their favorite photo-sharing app, Instagram. “It’s a product that’s extremely social and mobile,” says Raga. “Being able to shop and express (yourself) digitally, but in a social environment.” Depop is thus in part driven by creativity and in part by engagement: the more followers you have on your Depop account, the more clothes you’ll sell, naturally. Having a solid base on Instagram will always help you gain followers on Depop – the two work almost symbiotically.  

Raga, originally from Valencia, Spain had spent three years at popular discount site, Groupon, before moving to Depop, where, under her management as CEO, the company has raised $20M in their most recent investment round, Series B.

And she says, there was nothing stopping her from getting there. “I never, ever felt discriminated (against). I cannot say I had to push harder or had to change perception, ever.” Having rose through the ranks of European tech and e-commerce, she asserts that the veritable ‘gap’ has absolutely been breached and those barriers to entry women used to face are now gone. 

SWAAY spoke to Raga about Depop, the millennial driving force behind its success, and how her career has informed her opinion of the modern workforce.

“I never, ever felt discriminated (against). I cannot say I had to push harder or had to change perception, ever.”

Millennials:

A principle driver for the app, especially in Europe, has been the rise to prominence of the millennial-heavy influencer industry, through whom Depop can amalgamate customers. Given that influencers get a tonne of free press products (that they don’t necessarily want or need), the option for them to resell based off of their photos already taken with said product, makes for very easy money.

Depop

It’s evident the millennial generation are consumers who are heavily influenced by what these pseudo-celebrities are wearing on their Instagram feeds. “They are looking for someone to inspire them (millennials)” Raga comments. “That’s why influencers have become so big, it’s the timing. The fact that we have a product that suits the new generation, which happen to be a segmented population, and the fact that people don’t really know how to approach them because they are completely different to the older generations in how they shop and how they use digital.”

The Modern Marketplace:

Depop relies on its look, feel and accessibility to stand out from a market of marketplaces that are, on the whole, a little clunky. Take Ebay or Amazon for example. Buying clothes off either is a pain and an eye sore to look at. When you have all of your favorite people online cordially organising your wears in a pretty, curated grid, why would you have need for scrolling through pages of product with varying price ranges on these bigger sites?

Traditional means of selling – brick and mortar stores, advertising in print magazines or newspapers – are on their way to becoming relics of a bygone age. This of course means that sites willing to evolve and focus solely on this kind of emotional marketplace will profit from this new online space of buying, selling and sociability. When you buy off Depop, you’re buying from a person – perhaps someone you wish to emulate, or have been following for a while. There’s a connection there you don’t get from buying, say from ASOS, or Nordstrom. It’s engagement, in a uniquely intimate online setting.

Maria Raga, Depop CEO

What is tricky however about working with those reliant on these social channels for money-making, is that once a change is made to the interface or set up of the app, there is war. “The moment that you try to improve your flaws, you end up pissing off some people,” laughs Raga. “Or you might jeopardize the nice look and feel, on top of the fact that people don’t like change. We experienced this when we launched our new app in July, the amount of complaints that we got about the font, being too bold, you’re always going to get that.”

As for direct competitors, the size and scale of Depop has meant their entrance into the U.S market has gone down very well. “It’s not an easy space. It looks easy to get in, but once you get in, you realize to really get to scale, you have to have a big community,” says Raga. Depop’s community now comprises of 25% U.S customers, heading up competition like Poshmark and Tradesy

Depop

“Managing a marketplace is hard – you have to be looking at the buyer’s side, and the seller’s side. Many businesses just look at one, and focus on that.”

-Maria Raga

Motherhood:

Raga was resolute in her belief that being a mother never once hindered her ascension to CEO in an industry notorious for its bro-ish nature.

“The moment that I became a mother – everything changed,” she remarks. “My priorities in life changed, the amount of time that I dedicated to myself, to work changed. For sure, it made me a better manager, because it gave me a lot of perspective in life, you don’t take things as seriously. You have more empathy, more patience.”

She does however posit, that while women are increasingly found in executive positions, or leading companies, that they will never be there to the extent or number of their male counterparts, because of motherhood, and their attachment to their child. As the choice becomes more readily available to stay at home or go back to work after a baby, she posits women will continue to make the choice to bring their children up themselves.

“The two most powerful women in Europe at the minute are Theresa May and Angela Merkel, (neither of whom) have kids,” she says. “Women, like men have a choice to make there, that’s very much inherited in their biological DNA. It’s just harder for women to decide to do that.”

This is not necessarily a negative thing, she states. Priorities and where they lie as women continue to breach the gap, will wind down to individuality and preference, rather than what society, or your company, deems correct. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing that women take a couple of years off their careers and go back,” says the CEO. “With life expectancy going up, we’re going to have enough time to work. If women want to take time off now and then continue, and the men do the same after and continue, it’s completely fine. “

As for reaching those estimable heights, Raga is adamant it’s up to the women themselves to achieve executive positions, rather than blaming men for blocking their way there. “It’s up to them. It’s not up to the men to open up. It’s up to the women to be willing to do it. If they want to do it – the road is there.”

Amy Corcoran

The Associate Editor of SWAAY: Amy is an Irish writer, avid foodie and feminist with an insatiable appetite for novels and empowering women’s writing. She has enjoyed calling Dublin, Paris and now New York her home.

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