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Philippe Von Borries Founder
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Philippe Von Borries Recent News Mentions
foundrmag.libsyn.com May. 29, 2019
The Refinery29 Story—From Bar Napkin Sketch To Media Empire, With Philippe Von Borries And Justin Stefano
Media, Refined How four founders turned a sketch on a cocktail napkin into an iconic digital media brand. One night in 2004, in a bar in New York City, three ambitious entrepreneurs huddled around a cocktail napkin and sketched out a vision. They essentially wanted to translate the concept of the mall for the internet, only instead of catering to big name brands and retailers, it would connect visitors to all of the amazing independent brands and makers that were flourishing at the time. That initial sketch—it started as a picture of a virtual mall—has evolved a lot since that night, and the team solidified around four dedicated co-founders. But 15 years later, the dream of Justin Stefano, Philippe von Borries, Christene Barberich, and Piera Gelardi has become a reality, and so much more, in the form of now-iconic digital media company Refinery29. “One of my biggest regrets to date is that we didn’t save the napkin,” Stefano says. Since they set out on that journey, the team has created an online space where media targeted toward women is distilled, removing the impurities of stereotypes, taboos, and shame. Initially focused on fashion and style, Refinery29 has since expanded to a staggering breadth of content. Covering almost every topic imaginable—from skin care to the latest in immigration legislation—Refinery29 is a comprehensive digital media company dedicated to elevating women’s voices. It’s built an international audience of more than 550 million across all its platforms, which include all major social media, a YouTube channel with nearly 2 million subscribers, an award-winning podcast in its fourth season, a short film series, an app, and more. But Stefano and von Borries, the two who initially had the idea for Refinery29, didn’t come from a background in publishing or fashion. In fact, as you may have noticed, they aren’t even women. But they saw a need, set out to meet it, and connected with the right partners to realize their vision and help it evolve. R
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Refinery29 Recent News Mentions
foundrmag.libsyn.com Jun. 4, 2019
How Refinery29 Defied Critics And Became A Digital Media Pioneer, With Co-Founders Christene Barberich And Piera Gelardi
“I think about how little we knew, but how—I believe—how courageous we were,” says Christene Barberich, reflecting on the early days of Refinery29. Before she and co-founder Piera Gelardi were the women at the helm of one of the fastest-growing digital media companies in the world, they were new entrepreneurs working tirelessly on a vision ( first sketched on a napkin ) that outsiders failed to understand. The Refinery29 founding team formed in 2004, and in those early days (before Twitter had even launched), people struggled to grasp even the concept of digital media. The co-founders’ pitches were met with skepticism. “We would go talk to people, and they would act like we were trying to sell them a carpet or something,” Gelardi says. “They thought it was a scam.” Potential advertisers and brand partners also didn’t think customers would ever want to buy something online. “I just remember thinking, like, ‘I don’t think that’s true,’” Barberich says. That skepticism gave them an advantage, though: It gave Refinery29 the freedom to operate and experiment without the pressure of competition. Today, Refinery29 has an international audience of 550 million and has earned multiple distinctions, including Webby awards and Inc.  500 list mentions. Key Takeaways How the two met and influenced each other’s decision to go all in on Refinery29 The early days at Refinery29 when wireframes were hand-drawn The freedom of operating under the radar when digital media was still the Wild West The critics who doubted the business model and thought it was a scam What they lose sleep over How they approach content creation What they look for when hiring The advice they would give to entrepreneurs who want to use content to grow their businesses How they define quality content
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