Victoria Ransom is the CEO of social media marketing company Wildfire, whose social media marketing software helps 30 of the world's top 50 brands to monetize audiences across social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Victoria founded the company in 2008 and in February 2012, Wildfire welcomed its 300th employee, having secured international growth of 500 percent in 2011.
What inspired you to start your own business?
My co-founder and I previously owned a travel company called Access Trips. When Facebook launched fan pages for businesses we wanted to market Access Trips on Facebook but we discovered that to run a sweepstake on our fan page we'd need to build an application. We decided to build one that would enable companies to create and run marketing campaigns on social networks -- with no technical expertise required. That turned into what we have today: the Wildfire Social Marketing Suite.
How would you encourage other individuals like yourself to start their own business?
First, be very critical of your idea. I see a lot of people who are in love with the idea of entrepreneurship and in an effort to get started they don't always critically examine their idea. If you have a good idea, it's likely that someone else will have come up with it too. If you look into the market and don't see anyone who's doing your idea already, ask yourself why? Is it because you're the first person to think of the idea or is it because the market opportunity isn't really there?
Second, if you are going to find a co-founder, choose extremely carefully. Pick someone that can complement you, not your friend from business school who has the same skills as you. Make very clear from the start who is going to do what and ensure you have the same vision for the company culture.
What differences/advantages do women in business have compared to men?
Women tend to be a bit more humble and more likely to share credit for success. This can be a disadvantage because the extent of our contribution might be overlooked, however in my experience, women in business are often hungrier to prove themselves and more driven to succeed than their male counterparts, which often gives them the advantage.
There are fewer female executives heading up big companies -- how can this trend be reversed?
I think that the trend is already being reversed but there's still a long way to go. Strong female role models are key to reversing this trend and at the moment there is a substantial wave of female tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Some of these women will go on to build or lead big businesses. This then sets an example for the next crop of young women, and it starts to self-perpetuate.
There are also some great organizations that help women entrepreneurs but I believe that engagement needs to start at school and university level, encouraging women at a young age to consider technology and entrepreneurship as a career. In my opinion, the relatively low number of women working in technology is due not to a lack of opportunity, but to there being a small proportion of women who consider it to be a viable career path.
What are your plans for the future?
At Wildfire, we are working on some major new product initiatives and we're opening offices in a number of international regions. We're also continuing to hire rapidly and aggressively scale our business as well as continuing to build a thriving employee and customer culture, and an innovative product.
The opportunities that have been afforded me by Wildfire are extremely fulfilling. Life at work is sufficiently exciting and rewarding that I haven't thought too much about my own future plans. I am living out my dream career so it's hard to see how it could get any better. My only plan is to do more snowboarding -- my second great love after Wildfire!