Zimbabwean builds site in internet cafe, grabs international attention

A young Zimbabwean who built an online hip hop community is grabbing the world’s attention, having appeared on the front page of Y Combinator’s Hacker News.

The man, who goes by the name of Munyukimanatsa online, decided to build the site, called mixdem, after struggling to find employment once he graduated from university.

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There were a couple of obstacles he had to overcome first though. For one thing he didn’t have an internet connection. His coding skills were, by his own admission, a “bity [sic] rusty”.

Munyukimanatsa was also out on his own if anything went wrong and he had no means of paying for a domain name.

Rather than using these factors as an excuse not to get the project going, he set himself up in an internet café, got a friend to buy a domain name for him and chose his webhost based on a Google search.

Munyukimanatsa says the idea for a hip hop aggregator came to him because of frustration with existing hip hop sites:

I visit a lot of hip hop sites and sometimes a site might have one good story or content. I decided to build a hip hop link aggregator with social networking features.

After three weeks of working mainly at night, because “during the day [there] would be no power most of the time”, the young coder had a working prototype.

After a few hiccoughs, the site finally went live. Other than a few posts on social media and online classified sites Munyukimanatsa didn’t do all that much promotion, saying he was “just looking for feedback and was not expecting a lot of traffic”.

A week after launching, the site was getting around 500 unique hits a day and its creator was getting business proposals and offers to freelance on other people’s projects. Not bad for an unemployed Information Systems graduate, who thought his best hope of employment lay with big mining firms.

Munyukimanatsa says the most difficult part of building mixdem was integrating social media. Hardly surprising since the site includes features such as “voting on content that you like, [you] could follow people like on Twitter, share your thoughts, comments, algorithms to rate content and messages between members.”

The comments on Hacker News are generally positive, with some suggesting improvements for the site and others saying that they would be using Munyukimanatsa as an inspiration for others.

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