Babba C Rivera is the founder of esteemed next – generation marketing agency ByBabba. But how did the Forbes approved businesswoman (who was behind Uber’s launch in Sweden) achieve entrepreneurial success?
Marketing agency founder Babba C. Rivera exemplifies everything business-savvy young women aspire to be. The multi-hyphenate launched Uber in Sweden (making it the fastest-growing launch city at the time), before migrating to NYC to work as the ride-share company’s Head of Partnerships. She co-founded HER, a professional network for women, and later worked as the Director of Brand Marketing at a direct-to-consumer luggage company, Away. Now the creative is working hard on her next-gen brand marketing agency bybabba, which just expanded to include offices in Stockholm. We got the chance to chat with Babba about her version of success, authenticity in the age of social media, and how she’s managing her company during social isolation.
Are there things you miss about the early days of the business when you were starting out?
Yes, I think I will always treasure those moments of hustle that are inevitable during the early phase of a start-up. I love to build and personally love the challenges of stepping into the unknown, which I guess is why I have thrived working alongside start-ups for so long.
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs who feel like your level of success is out of reach?
To remember that everyone starts somewhere, but also, try to not compare. In my opinion, any journey we embark on should be fuelled by our motivation to learn, grow, and to have fun – it’s far more interesting (and a much more guaranteed recipe for happiness) than doing something to chase so-called success.
You have a very strong voice on social media and are quite open and vulnerable with your audience. Why is that important to you?
I am vulnerable because the world needs more authenticity and reliability. As someone who grew up not seeing myself represented in media and business, I would love to be part of changing that landscape.
You recently expanded your business to Sweden. Is there a big difference culturally with regards to how businesses operate? What has it taught you?
Sweden has a lot of government support, which means there is a greater level of security for employees and companies. Sweden is also very good with regards to balancing work and personal life. Everyone takes public holidays very seriously and are good at taking proper time off every summer, whereas this culture in the U.S. is very different. It is easier perhaps in Sweden to practice these business standards because all companies operate on that wavelength, whereas in the U.S. it is sometimes a challenge to follow similar philosophies when your peers do not.
In 2016, you co-founded the HER network. How has it evolved over the years? Did you ever envision this level of success?
HER actually started as a very casual dinner series in which female professionals came together for meaningful connections to help one another professionally as well as personally. It has since grown into an official membership model, with women from a wide range of professions, which was definitely not my expectation when starting this. What has made this possible is the power of the community who have built this from the ground up with us, alongside my amazing co-founder Marika Frumes, who’s taken the reigns on all things operations, serving as the CEO of the organization.
What does success mean to you? Has this meaning changed over the years?
For me, success is about focusing on the journey, not just the desired destination. I think when you can appreciate the process, you operate with more ease, less resistance, and therefore happiness. As I grow, I think success for me centers more and more around happiness and family.
How has navigating the business changed since social isolation kicked in?
It is definitely an unusual time to be navigating a business. Internally speaking, we have had to adapt to working remotely- strengthening communication as we are no longer sitting around one table together and relying heavily on video calls for touch-bases. Externally speaking, we have had to shift the way in which we advise our clients to market during this time. As events, shoots, and other activations are no longer possible, we’ve directed our efforts to intentional brand building and community strengthening on a digital front. We’ve conceptualized Instagram LIVE initiatives for our clients, as well as using this platform on my own channel to spotlight female founders and their brands. We’ve also extended a miniseries from our Out of Office podcast, called Work From Home in which we chat with creative forces from their homes to discuss current topics.
What does a day currently look like for you and your staff?
I think the entire team, but definitely speaking for myself, have tried to maintain a level of normalcy in our day to day routines. We kick off our mornings with a team video call to touch base on goals and tasks to conquer individually for the day. From there, the day typically consists of video meetings catering to specific projects, conference calls with clients, and impromptu one-on-one touch bases with the team. I always make sure to pause for lunch, having a proper meal at 12 pm, before diving back in. As a team, if our schedule allows, we love to pause for a dance break at 2 pm with Forward Space – they stream it LIVE on their Instagram!
Have you had to make personal sacrifices to achieve such a high level of success? If so, what were they?
My career journey has definitely come with a lot of sacrifices – from missing out on friends’ birthdays to not having a single vacation without my laptop and daily work duties during my four years at Uber. There have been a lot of canceled date nights with my now-husband due to work fires, not having enough vacation days to fly back to family, etc. That being said, however, I don’t regret it because I feel like I was truly doing it for me and no one else. I made sure to have a lot of fun while working hard. I think of life in phases and that was a phase that needed my full attention on career and today, because of that, I’m in a different phase- one of being married, building a home, and implementing greater balance for long-term success. While I do believe you can have it all, I don’t think you can have it all at once.