Interview with StudentFace – The Australian Alternative for Facebook

September 22, 2006 at 1:22 pm 26 comments

studentface.JPG Recently, there has been a lot of buzz and commotion around social networking websites, specifically related to the issues of privacy protection for the end user and where some social network websites may have made mistakes, including Facebook and Google’s Orkut, which TechAddress has discussed over the last month. However, there are some social networking sites that are offering equal, if not better services, and still maintain an intense focus on end user privacy. One example is an Australian based social networking site called StudentFace.com.au, which is operated by StudentPost Australia Pty Limited. I had the opportunity to speak with Jahangir Shagaev, a leading member of StudentFace’s team. He was very insightful and informative and articulated nicely that StudentFace’s technology enhances the ability to decrease cultural divides, to bring together Australian University students with similar interests, be it politics, history, business, science etc, and gives each and every student the ability to share their views, ideas and anything else of interest with a large proportion of other University students within their community and nationwide. Lets learn more…

TechAddress: Tell me a bit about your company, what it does and what’s your value proposition?

StudentFace: StudentFace.com.au is an online social networking website exclusively for students of Australia. Launched on the 6th of August 2006, the website is operated by our company, StudentPost Australia Pty. Ltd. Since the day of launch our membership base has been growing rapidly. Unlike sites like MySpace, our value proposition is that we guarantee that every member is a verified university student. Once a student registers he/she is able to network with students Australia-wide. Whether it is meeting new students, consolidation of mates into one place, getting advice from senior students or giving advice to others, or maybe even finding a soul mate, StudentFace is the place to be for university students of Australia

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TechAddress: What makes your company stand apart from your competitors?

StudentFace: As mentioned in the previous question, we guarantee that every student is verified. A lot of other social networking sites are open for everybody. Our exclusivity of university students of Australia only is the standout feature. We are not denying for a second that out model is not similar to Facebook, however our biggest point of difference is that we are Aussie specific, and I can confidently say that given time we will be heavily differentiated from Facebook.

TechAddress: What are some of the main features?

StudentFace: Some of the main features are photo sharing, video sharing, messaging, personalized message boards, event creation, group creation and of course the privacy settings.

TechAddress: Who’s your target customer or audience?

StudentFace: Our website is exclusively for University students of Australia

TechAddress: Any new things in particular that you’re working on right now?

StudentFace: We are working on a “My Jobs” feature. Basically we will be helping students attain employment in their relevant field. I am more than happy to keep TechAddress up to date with this feature. Otherwise we are looking to bring out a new feature every couple of month.

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TechAddress: Where do you see your company heading in the future?

StudentFace: We are definitely looking to expand out network overseas. We have the technology and the system in place to do so. We have also identified several locations within our region. At this stage I cannot discuss which locations, but once we are more than happy to keep TechAddress up to date.

TechAddress: Any negative feedback or criticism regarding technology and services?

StudentFace: So far we have not had any significant negative feedback, however we have had some criticism about our over zealous privacy settings and privacy policy. We spent a lot of time making sure our privacy settings are top notch, even if it meant going slightly overboard. If you have read of our privacy policy you will realise that it is quiet extensive and comprehensive. This has been viewed as a problem, as the whole idea of the website is for students to interact and swap information. Due to heavy privacy settings at times the process of information swapping has been hard to achieve. Although this is the case, we are not looking to relax our privacy settings, as it is a valued feature for a large portion of our members. At the end of the day, we all like our privacy.

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TechAddress: So what would you say is the guiding principle behind your company?

StudentFace: The whole of the StudentFace team is comprised of students. I am a current student doing my second university degree. Studentface.com.au is an online service for university students. Thus our guiding principle is to provide students a free service, which will help them throughout their time at university and after. Whilst at university students can network, and build an army of lifelong friends.

TechAddress: What is the mission of your company and what are you bringing to the market that is innovative?

StudentFace: Our mission is to unite all of the university students of Australia in the one place, where there everyone is equal. There is no black or white, there is no Christian or Muslim, there are no cultural and racial divides, there is no international and local student divide, it is a one big happy family. In terms of innovation, well StudentFace is one of a kind in the Australian marketplace. Yes there are plenty of social networking websites present in Australia, including Facebook, but there are none that are exclusive for university students of Australia. Furthermore, we are Sydney, Australia based doing it for students of Australia

TechAddress: Where are you in terms of funding and your lifecycle?

StudentFace: At the moment we have no revenue coming in. We are backed by several private investors. We have enough funding to make the system grow and eventually be able to sustain itself through ad revenue. We have had expressions of interest already from several companies who wish to advertise with us.

TechAddress: If your technology or service is not formally launched yet, when’s the launch date?

StudentFace: We launched on the 6th of August 2006.

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Entry filed under: Aussie, Australia, Australian, business, europe, facebook, facebook.com, internet, myspace, myspace.com, online, online advertising, online business, online community, online privacy, Online Privacy Protection Act, Orkut, pirvacy, privacy, social, social media, social networking, social software, software, student face, studentface, studentface.com.au, tech, techaddress, TechCrunch.

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