Major social media platforms are like conveyor belts of content—everything is moving so quickly that creators find it difficult to build relationships with their followers. At least that’s how Gina Bianchini, the CEO of Mighty Networks, sees it.
Bianchini wants to improve relationship building on social media platforms, which is why she co-founded the company in 2017. Mighty Networks uses technology to help brands create shared connections, excitement and learning for online users.
“We’re able to do so much more for creators today, but we’re only at the beginning of innovating on communities and what’s possible with them online and in the real world,” she said.
Bianchini, a native of the Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem, had a front row to the startup scene since high school, and built her first company in 2007.
Her guiding principles to leadership have helped grow Mighty Networks and empower a range of brands to build communities focused on careers, health, wellness, parenting and personal finance.
Mighty Networks provides a platform where creators and brands can interact with their followers, livestream content, build online courses and host events.
“Mighty Networks has a very clear job,” Bianchini said. “We allow people to build an online business and bring it all together in one place, under their brand, and make it instantly available on every platform.”
Mighty Networks’ mission is rooted in the motivation to tackle technology and user experience challenges. Ultimately, the aim is to unlock opportunities for “creators with a purpose” to build and monetize thriving communities.
“Think of Mighty Networks like the greatest dinner party you’ve ever attended, where you know everyone at the table and enjoyable conversation is flowing smoothly all night,” she said.
Today, Mighty Networks supports online courses—but that wasn’t always the case. As early users took to the platform, they almost immediately asked if they could offer courses to their community members.
After a few iterations and user feedback, Mighty Networks added online courses to the platform. The company also added payments. “When we became the only platform that allows a creator to offer community and courses together in one place—and creators could charge for individual courses or bundles of them—it took off,” she said.
Bianchini’s mission for Mighty Networks never changed, but she listened to users so she could best serve them. “By being flexible in the ways that we got there, we actually built something that has product-market fit, that people love, that has created an incredibly successful business,” she said.
Mighty Networks has raised $50 million and doubled its revenue each of the last three years, but there were plenty of challenges and people who said no along the way. Yet even during the most challenging times, there was always a customer or partner who was able to see the value in the vision.
“Sometimes you only need one yes to gain that little bit of forward momentum you need, ” Bianchini said.
Bianchini credits some of her success to the network she’s built—and keeps tapping into. She said Ann Miura-Ko, co-founding partner at Floodgate, encouraged her to think bigger. Miura-Ko was one of the first women to invest in Mighty Networks.
Bianchini also points to her years-long relationship with her J.P. Morgan banker. She knew she needed a bank that understood the startup space and could continue to serve the business as it grew.
"I knew J.P. Morgan was a fit because I felt like they were dedicated to my business. My banker knows me—including my needs and concerns—and gives me access to solutions and services that make sense for my business."
- Gina Bianchini, Founder and CEO, Mighty Networks
Starting a business isn’t easy, scaling is even harder. Bianchini said one of the hardest parts about entrepreneurship is painting a picture of the future you’re building—getting people to believe in something that doesn’t yet exist. Moving people to action, whether they’re potential clients, investors or employees, is the fundamental challenge all entrepreneurs face.
“You get punched in the face a lot as an entrepreneur,” she said. “You need a bit of an ego to believe that you can create something new out of nothing, to change culture, to change how people do things and to continue to persevere.”
But she wouldn’t trade her journey for anything. “This is my passion. If it wasn't challenging, it wouldn't be fun.”
Founder and CEO, Mighty Networks, Palo Alto, Calif.