Entrepreneurship Rooted in Empathy with Courtney Werner of KOYA


Summary of Episode

#15: Courtney Werner joins Annaka and Ethan to share her story founding KOYA, a platform that works to spread kindness from afar by letting customers send gifts and messages that arrive at the right place or the right time. Courtney shares her journey running a business with her family, leveraging digital communities to grow a client base, changing business models, and growing up surrounded by entrepreneurs. 

Courtney Werner is the CMO and founder of KOYA Innovations, which allows users to send gifts and messages to friends and family from anywhere. Growing up, Courtney’s dad owned his own business, so when he said he wanted to start a family business, Courtney, and the rest of the family, could not say no. Courtney has an extensive background in marketing and spent many years working abroad in the nonprofit sector. She has been involved in the startup sphere for quite some time and is an advocate for creating a more meaningfully connected world.

Full Episode Transcript

Podcast Episode Notes

The origin of KOYA [1:11]

KOYA hopes to help others connect via “a personal message with a gift” [3:18]

Organizing a family and friends funding round then bootstrapping to remain self sustained [6:30]

Transitioning from a B2C (business to consumer) model to a B2B (business to business) model in order to build steady revenue [9:10]

Funding is a partnership, and money is only once piece of the equation [11:20]

How Courtney leveraged an online community to grow the company’s base and garner support for KOYA [13:20]

Pivoting KOYA’s product during COVID has led to long-term changes [19:22]

Advice from Courtney — focus your time on things that customers demand [22:31]

Using customer interviews to generate high-level engagement and collect feedback from customers [24:14]

Growing KOYA by focusing efforts on the business’s ideal customer profiles [26:05]

The advantages and challenges that come with owning a family business [27:50]

Growing up with a family of entrepreneurs [30:02]

Overcoming imposter syndrome to enter the entrepreneurship space [36:02]

What is ASO? How to optimize your keywords to be found organically in the app store [40:12]

Why extensively marketing on social media may not be the best use of your time [41:38]

Courtney’s morning routine and learning to balance work life and personal life [47:50]

Scaling a business and what’s next for KOYA? [55:13]

Courtney’s biggest surprise about being an entrepreneur — learning how to work with a team [55:34]

Courtney’s advice: if you have an idea, throw up a webpage to see if you can build interest, and consider reading “The Mom Test”  [1:00:00]

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