Unique In The Social Media Community, Vibely Nurtures A Safe Space Focused On Positivity And Meaningful Connections

Jeryl Brunner

When Teri Yu co-founded the social media platform Vibely, she and Theresa Lee were devoted to creating a safe space for users. Their mission is to help creators lead positive communities where people are inspired to join forces and crush goals together.

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Vibely Co-Founder Teri Yu (Photo By A Flow Studios)

By tapping a link, followers are transformed into vibrant communities with exciting challenges and real support systems all over the world. For example, influencers in the DIY, photography and self-care spaces encourage their followers to complete exciting challenges while finding a sense of community, like Lavendaire’s 40 days of Kriya Libation meditation. Some of the top creators on Vibely include Yes Theory, Subtle Asian Traits, Lavendaire and Dear Alyne, which all have subscribers in the millions.

“Once you discover your own community, you’ll be inspired to take action, stay motivated, and crush it together,” says Yu. “We’re like your local running club, with an inspirational coach rooting for you and others holding you accountable,” says Yu.

Vibely arrives on the heels of a time where so many people feel marginalized. According to Cigna 54% of people feel like they don’t belong. Teenage girl suicides have quadrupled since the 1990s and 40% of millennial YouTube subscribers say that their favorite content creators understand them better than their close friends. By bringing people together in meaningful and positive ways Vibely hopes to eliminate loneliness with real support systems.

First launching in 2018, in March 2020, VIbely underwent a major redesign. In 2020 the platform has grown by 1400% with 37,430 challenges completed and 392,417 messages exchanged. “Vibely is a troll-free, non-toxic space, where negativity is not tolerated,” explains Yu. “Long-term, I’m determined to create a world in which every human truly is enriched with enriching social experiences and communities. Where people feel happier and supported because of tech, not lonelier and more isolated.”

Looking at other media platforms, what you want to do differently with Vibely?

Tech should empower us, not define us. As a previous Product Manager in tech, I was very familiar with A/B testing and how it increases dwell time, often at the detriment to the user’s psychology. For existing social media giants, more addiction means ad dollars.

This addiction has devolved us into creatures of social isolation. Movements are now surfacing to change that, thanks to the initiatives like Netflix’s Social Dilemma. In fact, we’ve backed by the Social Dilemma co-creator Justin Rosenstein. In contrast, Vibely enriches our lives with happiness, meaningful social experiences, and growth.

What types of connections have you seen made through the platform already?

We have heard stories of best friends, starting businesses together, and falling in love. Many use Vibely to make new friends with others on Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok. The most astounding stories revolve around community ambassadors, who go above and beyond to make their members feel loved, welcomed, and supported during tough times. These leaders have the biggest hearts, including people like Laura Marulanda, who runs monthly women empowerment circles in Girls Gone Global and Michelle Grospe, who leads self-care meetups in Productive Potatoes.

How did 2020 and the pandemic impact your work with Vibely? Did you end up shifting gears with your strategy?

Before Covid-19 we powered over 500 meetups. Then the pandemic hit. It furiously plagued the world and wiped out all the in-person magic we had worked so hard to make happen. When we realized the effects on our business, we asked ourselves, “How do we recreate the same intimate experience in-person when you meet others face-to-face?” We came out with challenges as an activity to synchronously share and exchange feedback online. People absolutely loved it! We grew 14 times and wrapped up 2020 with more than 600 communities.

How were you able to raise $2 million over Zoom during the pandemic?

We’ve worked to empower creator communities since 2018. Very few investors got it. Fortunately, investors like the YouTube Founder Steve Chen, Meetup Founder Scott Heiferman, Zenly Founder Antoine Martin, and Patreon Advisor Evan Tana all were forward-thinking & saw our vision.

In 2020 the pandemic hit. Our industry, the creator economy, became incredibly hot. It was then that all this investor interest poured in. Lesson learned: never doubt your industry just because people aren’t aware of it yet. You never know what will suddenly blow up.

How do you see your role with the company evolving and what are your long-term goals as a female entrepreneur?

I love building. It is where I thrive. As our team has grown, I’ve had to intentionally remove myself from the day-to-day and reassess strategic questions like: what are our goals? What are our north star metrics to measure success? What milestones can we set to represent our growth? What are our priorities? What kind of team or resources do we need to accomplish these? How do we improve the system to better accomplish our goals? For many founders, myself included, it’s been less natural for me to spend consistent energy here.

So many people have a dream to do something super creative and fulfilling but don't have the resources or the confidence or courage. What would you advise?

Surround yourself with a community who uplifts you. The saying that who you choose to be around is who you are is true. Find mentors, find people who encourage you, or friends who believe in you. I wouldn't be where I am today without my close backers & friends who have been here during difficult times.

Also, find a problem you care deeply about solving. Your hypotheses will shift & your solution will iterate over time, but as long as you bring it back to a core mission you believe in, you’ll find the persistence to succeed.

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New York based journalist who has written for Forbes, Parade, InStyle, National Geographic Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and The Wall Street Journal. Author of the book "My City, My New York, Famous New Yorkers Share Their Favorite Places" and podcaster, ("When Lightning Strikes"). I cover the arts, theater, entertainment, food, travel and people who are motivated by their joy and passion.

New York City, NY
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