Queenstown born entrepreneur Siviwe Mgolodela, who is a BCom student at Stellenbosch University majoring in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, is the brains behind Unorthodox, a start-up company.
Unorthodox aims to take on popular social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
“Presently, people are under so much pressure to look, feel and think a certain way to impress their friends and their followers. As a result, people end up unconsciously communicating lies,” Mgolodela, the founder of Unorthodox, told Techfinancials in an interview over the phone.
“Unorthodox is the alternative to existing platforms in that all that pressure is taken away”.
Mgolodela promises “freedoms” that he said were not available on social media platforms.
Rather than worrying about what other people will think, Unorthodox wants its users to express themselves and talk about topics and their emotions freely.
“100% anonymity equates to 0% shame,” Mgolodela explains.
“Where else will users get a chance to anonymously share their raw emotions, problems and candid views on a social networking platform? Certainly not on Facebook or LinkedIn.”
Unorthodox launches on Wednesday next week, 20 September 2017.
Mgolodela said his Unorthodox concept has been tested with a few of his friends to find out what they think about the social network.
He said a live demo of the Unorthodox social network will be released on Friday, 15 September to a select few “to test” it out before the launch.
The ambitious student entrepreneur said his anonymous social platform will, at present, focus on the South African market.
“I plan on targeting Africa in the upcoming year or two, and only after conquering the African continent, will I then target the rest of the world”.
Asked about the choice of the name “Unorthodox”, the Stellenbosch student said: “The word stems from the message behind the social network – that it is okay to be different; to think different; to feel different; essentially it is okay to be unorthodox”.
He said the inspiration behind this social network came from his belief that “people unconsciously communicating lies” on social networks.
Unorthodox is being developed by Klensch Lucas.
Mgolodela is relying on a lot of bootstrapping mechanisms to get this project off the ground.
“For instance, instead of hiring an experienced web developer or outsourcing the project to a web developing company, I chose to hire an underdog whose talent I believed in,” said Mgolodela.
“As a result, the cost of developing the social network was not as high as one would expect.
“Once the social network traffic increases exponentially, I will make use of other forms of funding, such as approaching venture capitalists.
“However, bootstrapping is still a strategy that I intend on utilizing for a while”.
He said Unorthodox will “liberate people to be their true selves”.
Users will be able to express their true emotions and thoughts, as opposed to acting all cool for the sake of garnering likes and followers.
“I want people to realise that there is more to them than a mere selfie; that we are more alike than we are different,” said Mgolodela.
“I want people to share their life experiences by seeing the world through the eyes of someone else without any of the pretense of trying to impress anyone.
“Social media is presently ruining our emotional intelligence.”
He said Unorthodox wants to make it cool for people to talk about their real emotions on its social network.
“Presently, we see that with the emphasis being placed on selfies and filters, our emotions seem to be chucked away in a box somewhere with this huge stigma that it is not cool to feel,” said Mgolodela.
“Ultimately, I want my users to feel empowered in knowing that they are not alone and that they are not freaks for being unorthodox; that if they are feeling or thinking a certain way, chances are someone out there can relate – that way we get to share our experiences in an authentic manner.
“I wanted to address topics that mainstream social media doesn’t always want to talk about – i.e. depression and anxiety.
“I would say that the message behind this social network is that it is okay to be different; to think different; to feel different. I want people to share in their varied emotions; opinions; views and problems.”
Unorthodox hopes to entice millions of users.
One wonders whether it will be easy for the local startup to challenge the global giants of social media platforms that are loved by many in our country.
But, Mgolodela is unfazed by the popularity of the big social networks.
“I absolutely think (it will be easy to attract new users), because people are becoming increasingly annoyed with the perfect illusion created by social media because none of it is real. People are yearning for actual social interaction, as opposed to mere selfie and video sharing,” he explains.
“I think people would appreciate a platform to just vent about their relationship problems, their pain, anger, sadness, and frustration.
“A platform to confess their secrets and to converse openly about topics that mainstream social media doesn’t always want to talk about, i.e. depression and anxiety.”
The question remains will Unorthodox be a hit with local users?