Watching Allegro Dinkwanyane irrevocably hooked to the internet, one would be encouraged to say that the world of the millennial, really, is the World Wide Web. And for the enterprising amongst them, this is where the heart – and all the money – is.
You could call her a poster child of social media; Dinkwanyane makes a living off it offering PR services for the rich and famous.
Her entrepreneurial journey started not in an MBA classroom, but in journalism school, when she was given an assignment to start an online blog. Impressed, her lecturer encouraged her to keep at it.
After diligent research, planning and a lot of soul-searching, Orgella Media was born out of her university dorm in 2011. Orgella? It’s her name spelt backwards.
“I was inspired by Oprah’s Harpo because it’s her name spelt backwards. From the time I saw it, I started writing my name backwards and realized there is a good ring to it,” says Dinkwanyane.
Orgella Media started as an entertainment blog and has now diversified to include public relations (PR), charity and property divisions.
The world of PR today is no longer merely handing out paper press releases in five-star summit rooms. PR strategies are aggressively built around blogs, tweets, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Google+. And this world Dinkwanyane most understands as she aspires to be one of the online world’s greatest PR mavens.
“The world of online never stops. You need to know what is happening in the world and most importantly sharing some news with the world,” she says.
Dinkwanyane’s public profile increased in 2015 representing the likes of South Africa’s hip hop sensation Anatii, news anchor Thabile Ngwato and Nigeria’s singer Saeon and hip hop artiste Yung6ix.
The 25-year-old runs her business in Johannesburg; a long way from home. She was raised in Limpopo, South Africa’s northern province. Life was not easy. Her parents divorced when she was 12.
“I knew my parents were going to divorce. As a kid, you can always sense these things. It was hard for my mum moving from being a housewife and now left alone with four children. My dad basically decided he didn’t want to be a father anymore. I haven’t seen him since I was 12. He didn’t want us. He woke up one day and decided he didn’t want to be a father anymore,” says Dinkwanyane.
After her parents’ divorce, being daddy’s girl, Dinkwanyane often called him on the phone, even though he never returned the gesture.
“I knew his number by heart and always called but after two years I asked myself ‘I am the kid here and why I am the one making all the effort’, and I stopped. I haven’t spoken or seen him since.”
Watching her mother transition from housewife to bread winner inspired her.
“Our standard of living changed. We went from having everything we needed while staying with my father in Pretoria to moving back to Limpopo. My mother is a qualified teacher but had been a housewife for years so she didn’t have a job. I didn’t let that put me down. I worked hard in school and everything I did.”
Time came for Dinkwanyane to enrol into university, but there wasn’t enough money for it.
“I knew I wanted to study at the University of Johannesburg but my mother didn’t have money to pay for student residence accommodation on campus for me. I had to travel from my sister’s house in Kempton Park to class every day which is in the east of Johannesburg yet the University is towards the north.”
Dinkwanyane’s mother worked hard to give her a university education. When the opportunity presented itself for her to start Orgella Media, she knocked on all doors to find mentors – and experience – in the media industry.
“TV personality Carol Manana mentored me for about two years. I got to see how TV is made and I enjoyed it,” says Dinkwanyane.
But success was still elusive. Money began flowing in with Orgella Media, but Dinkwanyane realized she could not fund it fully. Clout was important in the impenetrable corridors of business, so her contacts referred her to people with deep pockets willing to invest.
“I went to them but all the people did not believe or understand social media or what a blog was. I knew the blog will run with or without them. I had to find other means.”
She taught herself graphic design and learnt to make business cards. As she endeavored to grow her business, Dinkwanyane received an offer to work for TRACE MUSIC as a journalist. She worked here for two years whilst running her business on the side.
In November 2014, she quit.
“There comes a point when you see that in whatever job you are in there is no longer any opportunity for growth. I needed to concentrate on growing my brand than helping the success of someone else’s,” she says.
From then, she fully committed to her business. The sacrifice paid off, as it has grown “tremendously”, she says. Her website gets five million hits on average every month, and she has had 50 clients since inception.
Her advice to start-up entrepreneurs? “Love what you do, ask questions, be patient, find a mentor and engage with your target market.”
Cyberspace – Dinkwanyane has found her niche in it, and looks like she is here to stay.