Hannah Oiknine, co-founder of Babbler
An interview with Hannah Oiknine, co-founder of PR social network, Babbler

Hannah Oiknine along with her twin sister, Sarah Azan worked to launch Babbler in 2012 — a platform that seeks to unite journalists and influencers with the right stories from the right companies. The startup, which has raised a total of €2 million, touts itself as the first social media platform for media relations, allowing media influencers and brands to share news, filesand messages in real time.

Things have been going well for Babbler. In fact, Babbler won the French 2013 Microsoft Imagine Cup and was also listed in Challenges Magazine’s 2014 Top 100 Best Startups To Invest In. Oiknine spoke to CMSWire's Kaya Ismail about her past experiences, including how her past employers Microsoft and Coca-Cola helped drive the creation of Babbler.

Small Town Beginnings

Oiknine was born and raised in a small French town called Burgundy to Jewish-Moroccan parents. “My parents invested all they had in our education. [My sister and I both] had a happy and simple childhood in Burgundy before I moved to study in Paris,” says Oiknine. After studying at the Grenoble Graduate School of Business, she landed a one year internship at Coca-Cola, followed by a one year apprenticeship at Microsoft. “I learned that hard work, consistency and ambition always pay off,” she said.

Against The Odds

Oiknine was a young female with zero tech skills, in France, living in the middle of nowhere with a non-French family name. “I was definitely not meant to achieve what I achieved .... But I’ve always been passionate about innovation and I just wanted to make it happen, whatever the sacrifices. I was ready to give a lot.”

To dig deeper into Oiknine's story, and to glean some advice from a successful female in tech, we posed some quickfire questions to her.

Digging Deeper: A Q&A With Hannah Oiknine

CMSWire: You've worked for some illustrious companies, including Microsoft and Coca-Cola, but what made you want to launch your own company?

Oiknine:  I don’t remember wanting to be anything but an entrepreneur. It was always in the cards for me. The first time I said to my mum I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I was only 7 years old. I’ve never been motivated by money, but by making a difference and creating something new with fun and smart kids. I did not choose entrepreneurship, it chose me!

During my studies, I really wanted to learn from leading companies and face their requirements of discipline and excellence. I wanted to learn from the smartest and strongest people. My bosses were very demanding and definitely not the kind of people to assist you, so I had to figure everything out by myself and learn from my own mistakes. It was amazing experiences that built me.

But like I said, I always wanted to launch my own business and those experiences were a way for me to get ready.

CMSWire: What were your biggest challenges when launching Babbler, and how did you overcome them?

Oiknine: We had three challenges when we launched; we did not how to code, we had no money and we wanted to disrupt a very traditional industry with no technology on the market yet. We overcome them by surrounding ourselves by people with skills that [me and my sister] did not have.

CMSWire: What advice do you have for young, ambitious females carving out their own future’s through entrepreneurship?

Oiknine: First, stay humble. Knowing how to take criticism is key, so take as much feedback from as many people as you can about whatever idea you have.

Second, [sample and study] first-hand viewpoints from across your industry, and find a unique way to do something better. Iterate permanently until your KPIs tell you you made it.

Third, work very hard, with consistency. Every day.

And finally, don’t raise money to lose money! In 2018, it’s going to be [even] easier to raise funds, but always seek out profitability by tracking your burn rate, your cash in the bank and by how many months you have ahead. Also, think on how you can scale your revenue without scaling your expenses.