My first startup. And what a trip it's been!
Refni is a worldview explorer that lets users see the world as [someone else], to diversify their thinking.
The aim of the platform is to driving greater empathy and understanding among different people by breaking (well, "bridging") the boundary of our online information bubbles, so that we could, together, solve world's challenging problems.
Refni began as a thesis project while I was completing my 2nd Master Degree at the Australian Film Television and Radio School. I wanted to delve into the world of information distribution by main stream media. Soon, however, my research took me to the digital world, where I realised that the power of traditional media outlets has long been handed over to technology companies such as Google and Facebook, a shift that sliently began all the way back in the 1990s.
Early days of Refni
The first prototype was a website that aggregated articles of the same topic, so that the users can see direct article comparisons to get a more balanced view on any given topic/event. However, during the building process, we quickly realised that something wasn't right: the solution seems rather clinical and we were asking the wrong question.
For our second attempt, we began to ask "why do people read the news everyday?" i.e. questions that delved more into the underlining, emotional drivers of human behaviour. We found that people who engage in daily news consuming were driven by curiosity, sense of connection to the world and a deeper need to understand their own place in the world. Based on findings, we build prototype 2. A way to let users explore the world as someone else so that they can see the world from different perspectives.
Branding and design
Between 2013 and 2016, we tested various versions, finally landing on a B2C mobile app.
After pitching this idea around Australia, Refni beat 800+ business applications to secure a place in the SheStarts Accelerator program.