Meet Elissa O’Dell, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at Huxly, an online platform that creates interactive content for the brands to be shared in an automated conversation with the audience over messenger.
In the new era of digitalization, Elisa O’Dell is trying to share the informative and the right content with the audience through Huxly to “build brand awareness, engage consumers, and motivate action”. She and her co-founder, Mia Pokriefka started the company in 2017. Their background in viral media and education has served them in setting up the business. The platform works with brands, media outlets, influencers to create interactive content over chat to avoid content fatigue among the consumers. They specialize in educational content with an element of social justice in them. It helps the media outlets go deeper into the topics, rather than just relying on social media to market their content. Currently, they only cover messenger but are planning to work with other platforms in the future.
Prior to this, she was the co-founder at Elm, a digital school for life for millennials that taught them about mental health. They used to create courses hosted by thought leaders and influencers as a part of their learning management system. But soon they realized that the 2 hours course model and long-form content wasn’t working for the current fast-paced generation. They decided to pivot by shortening the courses and delivering them over messenger. This doubled their course completion rate and increased their engagement to up to 90%. Thus, Huxly was born.
Elissa points out that content sharing is not common in the chat space and the businesses use it only for customer service. Huxly takes valuable information, partners with the voices online about the important issues, and helps in the expansion of the evolution. This is what sets Huxly apart from other online platforms. They work with the media outlets to add value to their content and to the lives of the audience. They create the content in-house with the brands, through proprietary technology and deliver it over messenger. It includes videos, informative courses on topics like biohacking, sleep hacking, etc. The automated conversation is designed to provide information to the user and also offers shoppable products mentioned in the courses. This also helps increase the engagement of the brand.
Fortunately, as everything went online due to COVID, it opened up new and creative ways for Huxly to thrive. People can use it to get the right information whenever required and a go-to platform for the brands to market their content. For Elissa, it gave her a chance to think more strategically about her business and the gaps that she could work on.
In the early 20s, when she started off in the industry, Elissa felt that the system is not built for women. “As much as it is changing women were not supporting women back then”, she says. It made her realize that although innovation is the root of technology, the system in place prohibits innovation at times. She is unlearning what doesn’t serve her which includes working 7 days a week, trying to do everything on her own, and pretending to be an expert in every area. She believes in surrounding herself with people that support her. She turns to people she trusts for their advice and wisdom and keeps clear communication with her co-founder at all times. This has helped in the smooth functioning of the business.
Although Elissa doesn’t have a traditional background as a tech entrepreneur, she realized it was her strength instead of being a hindrance. She is happy to not subscribe to the world that she fit in for so long as it doesn’t serve her anymore. Talking about her experience till now, she says, “In my opinion, running a company brings up all of your trauma and all the things you need to look and heal. For me, I have taken this as an opportunity to step in more of myself and my authenticity, and the more I do that, I show up myself and honor myself, the more successful my business is”.