Exploring the Exploradio App – The Namibian

JANA-MARIE Tors (JT) is a speaker and actress, mom of two, and has founded SmilingKidsNamibia, which trains young actors to be clowns and offers local hospital shows.

She is also the founder of the start-up Exploradio.

She chats with Meike Neitz (MN) about how she came to Namibia, her entrepreneurial journey, and launching the Exploradio app.

MN: Jana, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

JT: I am 32 years old, born and raised in Germany. After school I studied drama and became an actress, comedian and writer. However, I always had a deep interest in Africa, and decided to pursue a second degree in African Studies at the University of Cologne while working in theater, TV and radio.

The latter was also what brought me to Namibia in the first place.

I applied for an internship at Hitradio Namibia to gain more practical work experience in this field.

I immediately fell in love with the country, met a Namibian man who stole my heart.

We got married two years later and decided to make Namibia our home base.

MN: How did you come up with the idea to found Exploradio?

JT: Exploradio is really the melting pot of all my strengths, interests and experiences. I came to Namibia to learn more about its history, especially its colonial past, and I also wrote my thissis on a Namibian topic and did my research here.

On the other hand, I worked for a private German radio station, and also touched on commercial and touristy topics.

The last ingredient for founding was a short teaching experience at a high school in Windhoek. I was teaching Namibian history, among other things, and while I didn’t enjoy the school part very much, I enjoyed discussions with the students and showing them their history is important.

To sum it up: Never underestimate the combination of all your experiences in life.

Everything I have worked on before finally led me to the idea, and also gave me the courage to develop my own app and turn it into a company.

MN: What was the hardest part in the first years?

JT: Balancing my time between making money, working on Exploradio and being a mother during the pandemic. I did something that seems actually impossible, but I made it.

We are finally launching our app this week.

It’s an amazing feeling!

MN: Looking back, is there anything you would do differently?

JT: I would have educated myself better on the tech side of the business, since it’s an app, and would not have gone with the cheapest offer I received. In the long run this has cost me a lot of money, nerves and time.

When I realised I had to start all over again I felt completely drained and almost wanted to give up.

On the other hand I would not have met the company and people I am now collaborating with, and they are some of our biggest assets.

MN: How are you financing your business?

JT: I was lucky enough to be one of three winners taking part in the FemTech program carried by Dololo, funded by the French embassy.

This not only gave me valuable lessons on how to build a tech business, but also covered parts of our soft launch, some promotional material, as well as our mock-up app.

Other than this we are self-funded.

I mostly narrate audiobooks, do voice-overs for adverts, and record e-learning for clients overseas in the German market to cover Exploradio until it runs sustainably.

MN: What does your business model look like?

JT: We have multiple revenue streams, not just the app sales, which I think is very important to be scalable on many different levels.

Apart from the app we sell custom-made audio clips to companies who are mainly approaching tourists.

Sponsored content is the only advertising we want to have on the app, however we would never lie to our users, and we only do audio clips about tested experiences our team truly enjoys.

We are also building a media brand with a podcast focus, and will sell, for example, pre-roll ads for the episodes which allow companies to target a very specific audience and a fan community of Namibia and our product.

Last but not least, we are looking into expanding the educational content with post-colonial education topics abroad in Germany, and to produce African folk tales as audio stories for local children, as well as children abroad to change the media presence of Africa in Europe .

MN: After one-and-a-half year, you decided to find a co-founder. Tell us more about that.

JT: After approaching the start-up professionally, I realised quickly that it is a journey I can’t walk successfully by myself.

At first I hoped for a co-founder with tech or marketing skills and ideally money to buy a part of the company.

I met Sij by chance when I was looking for a Namibian female voice for the English audio clips.

She applied for that role, and when I looked up her curriculum vitae and online presence I was stunned.

She has a YouTube channel talking about Namibian history, and when I watched the first episode, I knew she had to be on the founding team.

Her knowledge is amazing, she is a great narrator, and last but definitely not least, Namibian.

Her perspective on things would help Exploradio truly get an African narrative.

MN: What is your strategy with regard to marketing and sales?

JT: So far we don’t have a big marketing campaign, simply because we can’t afford it. On the other hand, we see this as a great opportunity to truly see and understand what media presence, especially on social media, we have built up so far.

At this point our clips have over 13 000 plays on streaming platforms like Spotify, for example, and we build a small yet supportive audience who seems to crave our content.

Our strategy is to first see and evaluate what happens now organically after the launch.

We are also the only audioguide app for Namibia, and if people search in the app store or on Google Play for apps related to Namibia it’s pretty clear we are among the results.

With tourism picking up rapidly in the past months we are optimism to have downloads, even without a big marketing campaign, but we know we have to create one for traction.

MN: Do you have strategic partners on board?

JT: We have partnered up with MindsInAction, a Windhoek-based tech-company. They are our developers, and we couldn’t be happier to have a local company coding the app.

We have other prospective partners, like a big lodge with lots of Namibian history connected to it, and a car-hiring company.

We have also started having conversations with an airline, but since nothing is signed, we will announce it at a later stage.

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