Female Founder Feature – Sunny Lee, Roro Innovation

Sunny Lee is the founder of Roro Innovation.

Tell us about your company. What inspired you to start it?

Roro aggregates social media content posted by public figures you already follow. On one of her visits to see me and her months’ old baby niece, my sister tapped at her phone frustratingly. She asked if there was a way she could see the Kpop boy band BTS’ posts on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Youku, Daum, Weibo, Facebook all in one place. She not only tracked them on the major US social media platforms but also ones originated in Asia Pacific for fuller coverage. She found having to go back and forth between different platforms cumbersome and time consuming when all she wanted was to be able to see all of their posts across the different social media platforms in one place. Given how practical this sounded, I reassured her surely there was an app that did this already. I was proven wrong and have done customer validation that showed this wasn’t a pain point unique to my sister.
Who are your cofounders and what makes you a great team?
Sunny Lee has over 10 years of product development experience rooted in Silicon Valley best practices. She graduated from UCLA as a Lew and Edie Wasserman scholar, with a degree in Biochemistry. She worked at the Walt Disney Company in television programming when the industry was at the cusp of digital transformation. There, she ushered in partnerships with digital agencies to develop complementary online products for on-air programming. Through that experience, she got a taste of product development and went on to pursue a Masters degree at UC Berkeley, School of Information with a focus in Human Computer Interaction. She further developed her skills in product management by working at startups as well as larger companies including Mozilla, Native Instruments, and Wex Financial Services, and has launched multiple consumer and business facing products throughout her career. She is the CEO of Roro Innovation, overseeing user experience, product development, and fundraising.
Filipe da Cruz Ribeiro is a software developer who is experienced with several distinct applications and mobile technologies including iOS Swift, React, React Native, and Android. He graduated from a technical course at the Federal Institute of Technology in Bahia, Brazil, and is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Physics. As part of his coursework on Assistive Technologies, Filipe developed and launched a mobile reading assistance application for the blind. This gave him a taste of how technology could have a positive effect on someone’s life, and influences his work in mobile and web development. He is the CTO of Roro Innovation and handles all aspects of the technical architecture and development.
Susan Lee is an interpreter at Hyundai Capital with over 15 years of non-linear professional experience in gaming, entertainment, education, and human resources. Through her work in the Korean entertainment industry, she became ingrained with the needs of K-pop influencers and the pain points they experienced in having to manage their fans through disparate social media platforms. She also became deeply empathetic to the flipside of that equation; fans having to chase down disaggregated social content posted by the artist they follow and admire. She is an expert in influencer and social media marketing, and holds a Masters in Teaching Korean as a Foreign Language from Seoul National University. She channels her diverse professional background into the role of COO of Roro Innovation and oversees operations, finance, and marketing.
How is your company making a difference?
Not a single major social media application that is used globally (think Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitch, LinkedIn) was founded by a female. The influential and powerful voices behind every day social media applications are largely male while half of the user base is female. While Roro is not setting out to challenge any of these directly, we are addressing shortcomings stemming from the disaggregation caused by these siloed platforms created by men. With nearly half of the global social media consumers being women, it’s time we address some of these issues and provide a more convenient way for users to search and follow verified public profiles.
What are some of the challenges you have faced?
We heavily depend on social media networks and the information they make available to third party platforms and services with their APIs. We are so far taking the approach of starting with well documented API integrations like Twitter and YouTube but will come across a big hurdle when it comes to the dominant Facebook controlled platforms like Instagram and its namesake platform.
What is your biggest win?
We’ve managed to launch our beta in both the Android Play and Apple App Stores and are actively collecting user feedback, working diligently towards reaching product market fit.
Who is your role model?
All women leaders out there are role models and provide me with inspiration daily. I am regularly amazed at what women are capable of. Like Serena Williams, they win the Australian Open while pregnant with their first child, overcoming morning sickness and other physical difficulties. Like Fu Yuanhui during the Rio Olympics, they perform at the highest stage of athletics while on their period. Like Sheryl Sandberg, they steer a company during its accelerated growth period while grieving the loss of her partner, and caring for her two young children. But also in much smaller, every day settings, they work full time, care for their elderly and their children during a pandemic, and manage all aspects of one’s daily, complicated lives.
What do you wish you had known before starting your company?
It’s ok to start off as an LLC if you haven’t reached product market fit yet and are not actively courting investors. There are ways to easily convert your organization when the time comes.
What is your CEO superpower?
Having life perspective and knowing at the end of the day, what matters in life are a few, handful of things that don’t have anything to do with money or power.
What has been your experience with FFA?
Really positive. I’ve enjoyed all the webinars and sessions provided for networking and education. Grateful for the resource.
Anything else you want people to know?
I am a 3rd culture child; I was born in the US but lived in Korea while growing up and have since moved back. I love learning about other cultures in depth and have undertaken exchange programs to different countries on 3 separate occasions since high school.
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