YPA Innovators Spotlight: Ivana de Maria, Founder and CEO of StoryPlace

The Mexican actress, producer, and entrepreneur told her founding story and explained how she strives to keep her project true to its empathy-driven identity.


  • Ivana de Maria, Founder and CEO, StoryPlace
  • Francisco Martinez, Senior Associate, AS/COA Miami (moderator)

In a Young Professionals of the Americas kick-off event for its Innovators Spotlight series, Founder and CEO of StoryPlace Ivana de Maria spoke about the beginnings, challenges, and successes of her story-telling business. “I wanted a Google for stories, but I couldn’t find this anywhere,” de Maria explained to AS/COA's Francisco Martinez. So, she started drawing on a piece of paper what she wanted to find. That led to StoryPlace, an empathy-driven digital community where users can write, read, and listen to stories from people all around the world. In two years, it’s created a community of over 32,000 people in 92 countries who have shared stories with each other and accessed tools for developing their stories into content for film and television.

When asked how it is an empathy-based idea, de Maria said she wanted to make sure the StoryPlace community saw no negativity, and she designed the site so that users and content creators can follow and like others’ content but cannot see the number of likes for others, only your own. “You can’t compare yourself to others, only to yourself,” she said. When it comes to finding investments, de Maria said she needed to be smarter about who to partner with to ensure the essence of StoryPlace stays intact. “You can find money everywhere, but what matters is smart money. It’s personal to the company,” she said. The entrepreneur explained she always asked herself a question that an advisor once asked her: What does the ecosystem of StoryPlace look like? This question, she said, was the best advice she was ever given and has helped her keep her focus.

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