Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mariela Sporn > www.realref.com.ar

Mariela Sporn, Founder, RealRef

What do you need to be an entrepreneur?
I think it’s important to have energy, creativity, passion and proactivity. It is vital to trust in what you do and plan, get organized, listen, be flexible and persevering.

What did inspire you to start your business?
I was looking for a job and I finally had to decide between two job proposals, and I wondered. How do I know which is the best place to work? How can we reduce the gap between employees’ expectations and the companies’ reality? How do I know what it is like the working environment, management team, the opportunities given for professional growth, beyond from what one friend can tell me? On the other hand, organizations need to know how they are perceived and I ask myself, how can they improve without waiting 6 or 12 months for the Employee Satisfaction Survey results? And how can they know what their former employees think about them? The answers to all this questions are in RealRef.

How did you finance it?
Personal savings.

Being Hispanic… Does it have any influence on your business?
Yes. We are a society that relies heavily on the suggestions of others to make our own decisions; we take into account other references, whether these come through social networks or face to face.

In the face of adversity, how do you decide to keep going?
It is important to remember that obstacles can get to come and one must be ready to face them. With passion, effort, a good team, strategy and creativity one can learn from adversity and move on, emerging stronger from them, which is called resilience.

What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
Introducing a new model in Latinamerica, by which employees are those who rate their workplace and access to firsthand information. In turn, it was a great challenge to have been one of the 6 selected Startups and present it to a group of business leaders and entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley, at the Universidad de San Andrés with Palermo Valley, and also to present RealRef for 800 people at the Online Marketing Day after being selected between more than 150 projects.

If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
We are working on important improvements to the site in terms of usability, among others, simplifying steps, creating a more user-friendly platform.

What was your childhood ambition?
To make a contribution to society, create positive change. I also wanted to be a writer, which still stands.

Tell us about three entrepreneurs that you admire?
Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn's creator), Marcos Galperin (Founder and CEO of MercadoLibre) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (co-founder of the NGO Vital Voices, which promote women's leadership).

For business meetings: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?

What sacrifices on your personal life did you have to make in order to become a business success?
I had to take time given to my family and friends, to whom I am grateful, they are accompanying me from the beginning of this process and drive me to turn RealRef bigger every day.

What is your favorite quote?
Impossible is nothing.

Is it difficult to be unconventional?
It is challenging to incorporate a new concept, create something new, be held by one the possibility of improving the job quality for example and help others to find the right job.

Biggest mistake made?
Be very detailed. We waited to have a perfect product before launching it, when we could have communicate it a previous stage and improve it later.

Do you consider yourself an innovator? Why?
Yes. We develop a community that is pioneering in the use of rating system for the labor category. Employees find in RealRef a place where they can express their opinions, anonymously, and decide the best place to work, in turn allowing businesses to identify areas for improvement in real time.

About the company:
RealRef is a free career community where anyone can find and anonymously share an inside look at companies. What sets us apart is that all our information comes from current and former employees. Users rate companies based on several variables, allowing others and themselves to identify the best places to work, regardless the size or field of the enterprise, and companies are provided with real-time information to be in the continuous process of improvement, based on their performance.

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