Vuk’ Uzenzele: Varsigator Solutions

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I love seeing my fellow Black Sistas shining. True to the phrase vuk’ uzenzele, Siya Galela and Buhle Vilane are Woke and Doing it for themselves.

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Buhle Vilane

These young melanin sistas started the company Varsigator Solutions, October 2014. They have not allowed their studenthood to stand in the way of being young entrepreneurs finding solutions to fellow students’ varsity experience.

Saturday morning at the Rivonia Vida Café, I sat down with one half of the dynamic duo, Siya Galela, to talk all things app, life and her experiences navigating the technological business as a young woman not studying in the field.

Siya arrives to Vida dressed to the nines and ready to talk all things business.

So, I ask Siya why an app and where did the whole idea begin?

Siya simply replies, “why not?”  Apps and technology in general are the future. With the growing market in technology based solutions, it only made sense for them to create a business that services people in that field. Varsigtor began when Siya’s business partner, Buhle and other half, had a varsity project to create an app or business that created a solution for students on campus. This is when the spark was lit and the ball began rolling for the birth of Varsigator Solutions.

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Buhle presenting Varsigator to students and advertisers at a Varsigator focus group

Varsigator App is an app that aims to provide an easy, informative and enjoyable varsity experience for students. Although the app initially started out as a navigation system for varsity campuses, the girls saw other gaps in the market and decided to improve their business model. Thus, today when one downloads the app, it offers more than a navigation system. The app offers access to information about internships, learnerships and career fairs that may happen on one’s campus. Varsigator essentially provides readily available information and social updates just at the push of a button for notifications.

After listening to Siya explain what Varsigator is all about and how the idea came to life. It really dawns on me how much apps have become such an innate part of our phone’s existence, demand of efficiency and instant gratification in our lives and accessible access to information on any subject matter. So, why does it seem that many women are not highlighted in these spaces? I ask Siya how she deals with such, particularly since she’s not even in the tech field. Siya comfortably and gracefully replies that it’s all about research and educating oneself on whatever they do in life. Siya says, “I study Biochemical at Wits University, so I’m used to equations and science and tech involves those things. Although it’s a little different, there’s noting one cannot find out by reading, asking and some good advice to clarify a few things. It can be a little daunting walking into a room full of professionals that are trained in this (making apps), but because Buhle and I really believe in our vision, business, ourselves and each other – we have remained headstrong in not betraying that. Buhle and I are a great team.”

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Siya interacting with student user in the Varsigator focus group

Naturally, one may ask what the future holds for the Varsigator solutions app? Siya explains that because they are an online platform that is creating a virtual community, whether those providing the relevant information for students or students themselves – both kinds of users are able to exchange and share information about varsity related matters i.e. ziwaphi that weekend or upcoming career fair. The girls hope to expand the app beyond Johannesburg once it officially launches for the public next year January 2016.

I’m not much of an app person, other than any editing and photography apps. However, Varsigator has me having FOMO a little. An app such as Varsigator is quite necessary and useful in navigating one’s varsity experience. You will always be in the know about what’s plotting on activity-filled campuses –  jam packed with so many opportunities, it could be easy to miss some key events happening.

A real big shout out to these young ladies DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES #SHINEmaNtombazane.

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