Software Engineer at Pivotal Labs & Co-Founder of The StoryGraph
Nadia Odunayo (2010, PPE) is co-founder of the e-publication The StoryGraph, and last year she was selected as the number one Future Leader, an award given to the most outstanding African or African Caribbean student or new graduate. The article below was published in Issue 1 of The Martlet - Nadia tells us a little more about this award, and the success so far of The StoryGraph.
Can you tell us a little bit about the awards ceremony and how it felt to win the award?
On the evening of September 23rd 2013, I was in Plaisterers’ Hall in St. Paul’s with ninety-nine more of my peers for the Future Leaders awards ceremony. I remember the moment when Adenike, the editor of the magazine, came over to me a few minutes before the number one student was to be announced to tell me that I had won the award. It was a huge surprise - I had spent the majority of the day hearing about all of the achievements of fellow attendees, and felt mine were nowhere near as innovative or significant.
How did you learn about the competition?
I had been put in touch with the organisers of the award by a fellow Univite, and was asked to write an article for them. The editor decided that I was a suitable Future Leader nominee and recommended that I put my name forward. I filled out the form and took the interview, but certainly didn’t think I would be in contention for an award.
Why do you think you were selected for the award?
Apart from the emphasis placed on academic achievements, one of the main factors that contributed to my award was The StoryGraph. Andrea Jansson (2010) studied History and Politics in the same year as me, and we bonded over our love of fiction. We couldn’t read as often as we liked however, and wished there was a place we could go to enjoy exciting stories to get a quick fiction fix. Such a place didn’t seem to exist, so I suggested to Andrea that we should be the ones to start one up!
How did you go about creating The StoryGraph?
We did some research online, and got in touch with some publishers and editors to ask for advice and guidance. One particularly valuable contact was Andy Welland, designer of Univ’s trendy Alternative Prospectus. He helped us to mock up an initial design concept and put us in touch with a web developer. After this, we began to write to universities to draw in submissions for our launch.
Following its launch, how successful has The StoryGraph become?
Since our launch 18 months ago, our readership has been promising, especially given our advertising has been limited to social media and emails out to a range of universities. We have had in the region of 5000 unique visitors since our launch, with 40 per cent of those returning. Whilst visitors are mainly from the UK, our site has touched most regions of the world, and we have published stories and artwork from European and American contributors.
What does the future hold for the site?
Looking ahead, we want to make the site the go-to place for short stories written by young talented writers, and we want publishers to go to our website to find the next big thing. The response has always been positive, whether from friends, family, or people in the fiction and publishing industries. We hope to build on this positive response in order to form fruitful partnerships and take The StoryGraph further!