Techzim has written on quite a number of local startups over the years. I’m sure some of you sometimes wonder what became (or becomes) of the startups and all – I know Ash does! Well, some of those startups are still in existence while some died a natural death. Either way, we’re interested to know what happened.
In light of this, we’ll be starting a series *no name yet* but I’m sure someone can come up with a cool name and drop it in the comments section. The series will be giving us highlights of what became of the startups that we wrote about (at least a year ago… and more).
So if Techzim wrote about your startup a year + ago, whether things worked out or not, please drop us an email. There’s always something to learn from you and/or your startup…
To kickstart the series, we have Wangu, a startup founded by Farai Mundangepfupfu. We wrote about Wangu back in 2015 and at that time, we considered it as Facebook’s competition (you can read more on that link so you get context).
Recently, Wangu appeared in the Herald and it seems the Wangu team is ready to take us by storm again.
Let’s hear what Farai has to say…
Q: Is this a Wangu relaunch or a continuation? If a relaunch why? What’s different this time?
This is actually the growth of the Wangu social network from a web platform to a mobile platform which is the future of communication and business in Zimbabwe and the world, giving Zimbabweans an opportunity for self-expression in a familiar environment.
Q: Why have you not given up on Wangu yet, considering it’s a 2014 baby?
From a business perspective, social media is one of the most promising markets in Africa and of course, this segment is densely occupied with dominant players, but the rapid development of technology is constantly opening up new opportunities for the realization of culturally focused platforms such as Wangu. And more so now more than ever, Wangu aims to open up opportunities for the IT sector in Zimbabwe. Giving up was not an option!
Q: What are the challenges you have/are facing with the “Wangu project”?
The main challenge we have faced with the Wangu project is the inescapable comparison to Facebook and references to Wangu being a Zimbabwean Facebook. The truth be told, Facebook created the social networking universe and there will never be another Facebook. However, that being said, Facebook has actually paved the way for more unique social networking platforms such as Wangu, giving us the blue print to create a culturally focused platform.
The other challenge we have faced is the stigma that a Zimbabwean developed social networking platform can not be just as good as the popular social networking platforms. In my view, this has been because we haven’t really had many innovations brought to the world stage hence the stigma but I am confident that as more innovations start coming up from our brilliant Zimbabwean minds, that stigma will disappear.
Q: Last we wrote we had mentioned how Wangu might potentially be a Facebook competitor, do you think Wangu is a direct Facebook competitor or it’s quite different?
Facebook is great to keep in touch with friends across the world but if you want specific cultural services and want to communicate with the entire Zimbabwean market all in one place, which you can’t physically do on Facebook, then you use Wangu. So, it’s not a direct Facebook competitor.
Q: What sets you apart from the already existing social media networks, why should I use Wangu?
Well what sets us apart from existing social media platforms, first and foremost is that Wangu is a Zimbabwean digital community focused on connecting people of Zimbabwean nationality or Zimbabwean decent worldwide with each other through geolocation allowing them to communicate with each other under circumstances they may generally not have been able to.
For example, if you were in Manchester, in England, at a Manchester United soccer game alone, Wangu would allow you to find other Zimbabweans who have Wangu on their devices within 500m of you in the crowd. And in doing so, giving you the opportunity not only to link up with other Zimbabweans in the stadium, but Manchester United fans as well. If anything, the existing popular social networks of today do everything but focus on unique cultural markets that they have become too big to cater to and what better social media network to cater to Zimbabweans than one built by Zimbabweans.
I terms of why you should use Wangu, well, to put it simply, If you are looking to meet and connect with a Zimbabwean community of amazing individuals from varying backgrounds who may share your interest, in your city, whether you are in Harare, Johannesburg or London, then you should join Wangu.
Q: Where do you see Wangu say in the next 5 years (or whatever time-frame you think is best)?
I see Wangu providing Zimbabweans worldwide opportunities for unique communication, self-expression and community. Every Zimbabwean wants to feel unique and to show the world how creative, extraordinary and outside-the-box he or she is and they can do just that in a familiar setting. I also see Wangu helping Zimbabwean brands reach Zimbabwean audiences in a familiar social environment.
I see Wangu creating custom branded experiences for businesses in Zimbabwe, authentically connecting their brands with their markets, unlike global social media platforms that have become too big to effectively accommodate culturally unique markets. Businesses in Zimbabwe will be able to advertise their brands directly to Zimbabweans in real time, by location, allowing them to market and promote their brands effectively to their best customers.
Q: What keeps you motivated?
What keeps me motivated is the need to contribute to the development of my country, namely the IT sector, in light of the vast opportunities we have here. For so long I feel that Zimbabwean innovation and talent has been overshadowed by our 3rd world status yet we have brilliant minds here whether that brilliance has been a result of a foreign education or not. That being said, what drives me is the idea of establishing a Zimbabwean digital platform found globally for Zimbabweans allowing them to connect and share ideas under circumstances they normally wouldn’t connect putting Zimbabwe on the map.
Q: Do you work with a team or?
Yes I do. I work with a small team of dynamic web design, application development and marketing professionals who eat and drink technology. Combined, we have over 40 years of experience in our respective fields creating an atmosphere of brilliant ideas.
Q: What is your revenue generation model?
Wangu is absolutely free for users and businesses once we roll out our business features. At this point our revenue generation model revolves around sponsored ad placements that will allow businesses to strategically place their brands in front of their best customers once we open the business social features to the Zimbabwean business community. Businesses will be able to deliver ads on the Wangu network based on location, language, devices, gender and age.
Q: Wangu is now being hosted at the TelOne data centre. Why that choice?
It made a lot of sense!! And not only did it make sense but it was the best move for us because of our network resource demands that in the past only a robust international data center could provide….but guess what? We now have our very own robust state of the art data center right here in Zimbabwe!! Therefore as an emerging platform for Zimbabweans by Zimbabweans, not only did we want to showcase our growing Zimbabwean digital community to the world but also our growing digital infrastructure and development that could rival many tech players internationally and bring exposure to the vast Zimbabwean business and IT opportunities and potential.
By the way, you can download Wangu on this link.
Also, if you have some particular questions you’d want asked for the series please feel free to drop them in the comments section as well.