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How a Privacy-Centered Social Media Platform Acquired Millions of Customers With No Paid Marketing 'To build something complex and massive, you've got to be fiercely determined - even in a moment when no one believes you.'

By Madison Semarjian

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Every year, we publish the Entrepreneur 360 — our list of the 360 most well-rounded companies in America, based on an evaluation of impact, innovation, growth, leadership and business valuation. This series spotlights some of this year's honorees. For more 360 content, view our 360 content hub.

Mark Weinstein, founder and CEO of MeWe, aims to give Facebook a run for its money. His company, billed as a "next-gen social networking platform," encourages a privacy-focused social media experience.

Weinstein spoke with Entrepreneur about why he believes millions of users flocked to MeWe without a single paid marketing campaign.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

You started a social media company during a time when social media is being heavily scrutinized. Why did you decide to do that?

As founder of a social media company, what I saw was Facebook veering far off course of what the intention of social media was. Social media was intended to provide people around the world with great ways to enhance their relationships with people that they know from any point in the globe at any time and to give us connections to people we might want to know. It was not invented to be an arena to aggregate data about people.

How did you acquire new customers when Facebook has a user majority?

Our growth strategy is completely organic. It was word of mouth ⁠— no paid marketing campaigns. People worldwide are attracted to our platform because it's fun, uplifting and full-featured. Our members are customers that we aim to serve and delight. They are not data to sell. They are not targets. There are no ads. People love MeWe because we built a good platform. We see large movements of people migrating to the platform, especially people talking about sensitive issues. In Australia, 50,000 women moved to MeWe to talk about sensitive issues affecting them in groups and pages. Other platforms manipulate group and page posts so you don't see everything that gets posted because they're marketing companies, so they decide what they think is most important for you to see. MeWe is completely different.

Initially, how did you get the word out?

It's always been word of mouth. We ran one "Dear Facebook" letter in the New York Times in 2018, in response to a full-page ad Facebook ran saying that they cleaned up their act. We called out Mark Zuckerberg for saying he had no competition. We also won a South by Southwest award. But word got around because we have a great platform. We are the first social network with a privacy bill of rights. You own your data. Your data is your own business. That's private. It's a myth that you have to give up your data to have a great social media experience.

Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses organically?

To build something complex and massive, you've got to be fiercely determined — even in a moment when no one believes you. If you wake up every day and believe that you're right and that your opportunity is right, even if there is no one supporting you and you're running out of money, if you're sure you're right, never give up. If you doubt yourself and you start to see cracks in your logic, then re-examine and pivot.

Madison Semarjian

Founder of Mada

Madison Semarjian is the founder of Mada, an outfit curation app.

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