Interview with BookYap Founder, Hallie SteubeWe had an opportunity to catch up with Hallie Steube and talk about her company, BookYap, an online search engine that provides users with personalized book recommendations. BookYap officially launches at the end of the month.
1). Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Houston, TX, but spent most of my life in California. I went to college in Western New York and moved to Chicago in June of 2008. I’ve been lucky to spend time in so many awesome states, but can’t see myself leaving Chicago anytime soon – this city is pretty great!
2). What was your childhood like? What kind of kid were you? Did you read a lot? Play sports? Start businesses?
As a young child I was a major introvert and spent most of my days reading. But once I started playing sports, I became a pretty outgoing child who was constantly on-the-go. Because I was so busy I had little time for reading, but have found a new love for books the last couple of years. Who wouldn’t want to be part of the digital reading revolution? Books are more fun than ever before!
3). What was your experiences with school growing up? Did you excel? Average? Struggle? Did you enjoy it?
Fortunately, I’ve always enjoyed school. I’ve always been a hands-on learner and love jumping into situations and problem solving. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, but I enjoy the stress involved in gettingthings right.
4). When you were getting your MBA, did you ever think about being an entrepreneur? Why or why not?
I did not. At all. I always thought I’d get into the advertising and marketing world, but when theopportunity presented itself and I saw how exciting it was to have my hands involved in all aspects of business as an entrepreneur I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
5). What was your earliest memory of being an entrepreneur?
It’s funny, when I was little I was constantly trying to come up with ways to make money. I used tomake and sell greeting cards, perform magic shows and have bake sales. Looking back, I suppose this was my first taste of entrepreneurship, even though I didn’t know it at the time.
6). What prompted you to start this business? What was your aha moment? How did you come up with the idea?
People are reading more than ever, but there are an overwhelming number of options to read next. Iwas looking for personalized recommendations and a way to browse books online that was similar to the bookstore browsing experience. I couldn't find it, so I decided I wanted to create that experience. BookYap helps you sort through the clutter of online book-finding and get recommendations that are personal to you.
7). What challenges/failures did you face as you started Bookyap? What steps did you take to work through those challenges?
This being my first startup and my first experience building a website, there have been severalchallenges along the way. So apart from the technical challenges in understanding the developmentprocess, the greatest challenge has probably been in sorting through feedback and prioritizing updates and changes so that I’m happy and users are finding BookYap to be a great experience.
8). You mentioned you’re officially launching at the end of February with some new functionality built in. Can you share with us some of the new functionality?
Currently you can enter books to see other books you’ll love. But I’m most excited about therecommendation dashboard we’ll be launching at the end of February. This will give you a “homebase” on the site to come back to and consistently get personalized book recommendations that are fit for you.
9). What drove you to create this app? What surprising thing(s) has your initial marketing research shown you about your target audience?
I see BookYap being the place people go to find personalized book recommendations. The mostsurprising thing I’ve found is that even though there are a lot of people trying to figure out what thisdigital reading revolution will turn into, this market is still evolving and no one has all of the answers yet.
10). What are your personal goals for the future? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?Would you like to be a serial entrepreneur?
I will always do what I love. And if entrepreneurship continues to be something I love I will continue to do it. I’m along for the ride for now and am excited to see where life takes me.
11). What brought you originally to Chicago? Why did you stay? What do you love about being in Chicago? Where do you see room for improvement?
As I mentioned, I’ve lived all over the US and Chicago is definitely the right place for me to spend my 20s. The big city, neighborhood feel you get living here is something you can’t find anywhere else. The people in Chicago are awesome and living somewhere you can experience all four seasons and still have a beach to enjoy in the summer – it just can’t be beat