Each month, we'll be hosting an interview with one of Launch22's many brilliant and inspiring members. We'll be asking them about their business, their ideas and their philosophies with a focus on the theme of entrepreneurship. So, without further ado, allow us to introduce Rogério, CEO and co-founder of Unnon.
WHAT IS UNNON?
Unnon is a new and quite unique communications platform, based on public chats that we call 'spaces'. It combines a free social network, with temporary connections, and commercial public chats for businesses. In the free bit, users are in contact with a group of people within a ‘space’, for one month. There are up to 50 people in this space, whom you interact with, share opinions, ideas, experiences, etc. When the calendar month changes, the whole platform is shuffled and you wake up with a new group of users. It’s a way of allowing people to navigate and have a social network experience outside their traditional friends group, family and work colleagues. And companies or individuals can also purchase their own Spaces, which can be followed by thousands of people and embedded on websites, outside Unnon.
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA?
I’m a journalist, originally. After 10 years in London working for BBC, I was back in São Paulo for 3 years working for a Brazilian news magazine. I quickly realised that social media was having an immense impact on journalism, on the way people consume news and the way they interact with each other. I decided to quit that job and move back to London, where I did a master in social media at the University of Westminster. I did my dissertation on the filter bubble issue and, in the process, I came up with an idea of what would be a different mechanism that could help us alleviate the impact of the filter bubble. I approached a friend I had worked with, Eduardo Malpeli, and eventually he became my co-founder. We came up with this name based on the idea of unknown, we got rid of the K and the W so it's Unnon. That was the journey.
WAS THIS YOUR FIRST TRY AT STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
Absolutely. And I'm still learning every day. When I first started I knew nothing about business in the UK, from the very basics of starting one in this country to finding the right accountant, the right lawyer, the legal issues around privacy, all these practical things. So yes, I’ve been learning a lot.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WHEN STARTING A BUSINESS?
I think the most important thing is to know why you’re doing it. I know many people say that and the importance of the motive became quite a thing in the startup environment. You have to know exactly why you’re doing it and really believe in it, because the journey is so difficult and everything is a daily struggle, in many ways. I think most people find it hard because it is hard, so if you don’t know exactly why you’re doing it and in your head you don’t really believe it, you might not have the determination to really endure what it takes.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO YOUR OLD SELF BEFORE STARTING UNNON?
I should have been even more careful and should’ve expected that those difficulties could present themselves in the future. But I also understand that it’s very difficult to anticipate those things. If I could have a conversation with myself three years ago I would say: “Things are going to be hard and it’s going to get 10 times harder, get ready and prepare yourself, really hold on tight because it’s a tough journey”.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO ALWAYS DO A BETTER JOB?
My motivation, and the reason why I started Unnon, is a genuine wish to contribute to the whole social media landscape and to come up with something which I know is different and can be very positive. However, throughout this journey I discovered other sources, one being my sense of responsibility: what 3 years ago was just an idea, became a company, and the company is myself, my co-founder Eduardo, who is at the centre of our production and strategy, and 9 other shareholders that put money in the company, so I have a responsibility towards those people. My third motivation is the desire to succeed to have built something that people enjoy and use, which, of course, gives me an immense feeling of satisfaction and that itself drives me as well.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE ON HOW TO GET INVESTORS?
5 years ago, when people really thought that the most important thing was creating, people were putting 5 million dollars in just an idea but that’s not happening anymore, it’s getting tougher and tougher. I think the most important thing is that you have a very good plan and start making money as soon as possible, even before you start talking to pre-seed funds because they want to see money, they want to see results. That's why we're launching Unnon with an extra element that will generate revenue: Unnon now works as a public chat tool for business as well, a tool through which companies or people can promote their brand, activities and ideas. It's a sort of public and professional WhatsApp, something that doesn't exist in the market and will generate revenue at an early stage.
So, my advice is focus on your business, and if possible try to make money before you talk to anyone else. You’ll be much better positioned to face investors once you’ve actually made some money.
HOW DID YOU GET TO LAUNCH22?
I had been working from home for a year. I wanted to learn and be in a place in which I could familiarise myself with the London startup environment - conversations, approaches and discussions. When I found Launch22 it felt like the perfect place - it had the right size and atmosphere. After a year there, I knew 2018 would be challenging in terms of resources, so I left. But the year I had at Launch22 was very important for me. It’s the right place! It’s not just a working space, it’s a learning atmosphere.
AND HOW HAS LAUNCH22 HELPED YOU?
I worked from Launch22 for a year and I learned a lot. The access that we had to mentors, to discussions and the exchange of experiences was very important. Being surrounded by people who are going through the same difficulties was fantastic. Everything is part of the package that helps you in your journey. Launch22 is brilliant. it helped in many ways, I learned a lot and I had a fantastic social connection with people who introduced me to the world of startups that I didn’t know much about.
Do you want to know more about Unnon? Visit their website here.
If you’re interested and want to know more about our space, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply stop by our space to say hello!