“Try to fail but don’t fail to try.”
June Shimuoshili is a media practitioner & the founder of unWrap Media. Since she was young, she carried within herself a desire to be in front of the camera and so once she had completed her high school, she enrolled at NUST for the Journalism & Communication Technology course. She went on to obtain both her Bachelor’s & Honors degrees. Today, June has three degrees in total, inclusive of her Media Management Postgraduate Diploma, obtained at Rhodes University on scholarship and at the same time, she is pursuing her masters degree.
“I grew up in Namibia and South Africa where I caught the media bug from the many interaction television programs as well as creative media platforms. Today I specialise in arts and culture beats in my profession which has scored me my first award (Entertainment Journalist of The Year 2017 NAMAs). My passion is being not only the voice of the voiceless but a stern believer of uplifting creatives in Namibia through my work. I am also very passionate about empowering the girl child and as of this year I have been appointed as the Girl Up Namibian regional leader.”
– Girl Up is a UN Foundation initiative dedicated to securing equal opportunities for adolescent girls worldwide.
Tell us about unWrap Media, the products & services you offer and your team.
“unwrap.online is an entertainment news outlet, social media management & digital marketing agency. The team consists of two associates and myself plus interns. The unWrap team is made up of people who are passionate not only about uplifting the arts and culture sector of Namibia but it’s people who are fond of digital journalism. What maintains the name of unWrap is strictly teamwork as it is not a one person job and without that element, it wouldn’t have come this far.”
What inspired you to start this business?
“unwrap.online was founded on the basis that there are no media houses that are niched to create a Namibian celebrity culture as you would see worldwide. The arts and culture are one of the crucial aspects that can greatly contribute to a country’s GDP should the sector be well taken care of. We wanted to create a platform for the arts and culture that can accommodate all artists and creatives at the same time, affording all a chance to showcase their talents.”
What do you enjoy most about being your own boss, and did you always know you wanted to delve into entrepreneurship?
“Being one’s boss is not as enticing as it sounds but if there is one thing I can choose is the fact that it allows me a chance to do what I passionately love, my way.”
What sets your products/services apart from those in the same industry?
“Our work is fair and balanced, affording both up & coming as well as established creatives a platform to have their talents showcased. We have also taken the risk of starting a business online in an industry that barely has a digital consumers acceptance. Our method of distribution is slowly getting conventional and the questions of why we are a media house but there is no hardcopy to show for it are becoming less. Lol. Also the fact that we are the only consistent proudly Namibian arts and culture media house makes us quiet unique.”
What challenges have you encountered on your entrepreneurial journey and how did you overcome some of them?
“It was very hard when we started last year (unwrap.online is a year & six months old) to penetrate the market given that we were providing a particularly new service (arts and culture is presumed as gossip largely) so potential clients were a bit skeptical about us; however, with consistency & determination we never gave up, kept knocking at the same doors. Today doors are not being shut in our faces immediately so that says something. We still have a long way to go but we live and we learn.”
What is your business philosophy?
“Try to fail but don’t fail to try.”
What advice would you give to someone trying to break into this industry?
“Be ready to learn, unlearn and grow a thick skin.”
How important is networking as a growth component of any startup?
“Oh it’s super important. unwrap.online’s foundation is based on networks from those advising on how to better the product, to those with the names & contact details of people who can help in a certain way, all the way to those that are simply cheering on in the background.”
What role does your startup play in 1) contributing to society and 2) in nurturing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Namibia?
“unwrap.online if to be described in simple terms is a platform that showcases talents and creatives. So with this said, we are contributing in such a way that the creation and informtainment we provide is able to grow the brand of someone who can create employment for entertainers. We also have an internship program that allows eager media practitioners an opportunity to create a name for themselves as well as start their networking at an early stage of their career.”
What recommendations would you make towards the improvement of the operations of startups?
“Honestly, the registration process of a company is long, draining and one can easily lose hope in getting their business off the ground simply because of the many hoops to be jumped. The red tape can often be excessive. Perhaps we also need transparency when it comes to what is entailed when owning a company because there is a tendency of certain information only popping up after jumping one hoop and you find out there is xyz to be done too.”
Startups in Namibia, and all over the world, are facing an unprecedented crisis in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic; how has your startup adjusted to the situation and/or assisted in disseminating information, combatting the spread of the virus, etc.?
We have always operated from our online platforms so there has been very little adjustment in terms of operations. Staying afloat is an area that has been affected, however, as so many of our clients have had to close down because they are not regarded as essential service providers; but it’s all about working with the means you have & finding new ways to survive. We are helping disseminate information through our articles & the response in terms of the clicks COVID-19 articles get, we are doing our part and we are being heard, read & seen definitely.”