From a modeling contract to the realization that she has a passion for academics, Natasia Malaihollo attended Berkeley where she studied BioChem until finally falling in love with the legal studies department. Like many future entrepreneurs, she climbed the corporate ladder until one day she had a “fascinating” dream.
“As insane and weird as this sounds,” Malaihollo said, “I dreamt of a touchscreen social network that had several tools for users to find and share their local experiences with others.”
Malaihollo now owns a startup called Sooligan. It’s an app to help you find, quick, up-to-date, and accurate local information about any city in the world. After graduating from an accelerator in Arkansas, Malaihollo’s mentor suggested New Orleans would be a great place to grow the business and she has been here ever since.
Catch up with her on LinkedIn and see how she answered our All About You questions below:
What is the most exciting thing you are working on right now?
I am currently working on Sooligan’s mobile app. Sooligan is an app that ‘digitalizes word-of-mouth.’ It is a city-based social network that provides local information with an efficiency, accuracy, and human touch that typical search sites do not. Looking up local information online is burdensome, time-consuming, and highly inefficient. Current online search results may be instant, but are often out-of-date and irrelevant. Sooligan connects users to the people that are best positioned to provide up-to-second updates on what is currently going on in any city—the locals. Sooligan is a social search platform that combines three unique features to provide users with real-time local information from locals. City-specific rants and raves, Q&A, and moment-based advertisements provide users with an all-encompassing view of the current culture and local sentiments of any city at any time. The vision for Sooligan is to allow people to travel to any city in the world, and without knowing a single person there, be able to feel like a local.
If you wrote a regular column for Silicon Bayou News what would it be about and what would you name it?
I would write a column focused on wacky things entrepreneurs do to survive and keep their startups afloat. Entrepreneurs are very creative when it comes to survival. I know from firsthand experience how far entrepreneurs will go to save a dollar or make a business connection. For example, my co-founder and I just came back from Austin, TX for SXSW. We were there for 10 days and never once paid for housing by staying with strangers we found online. To most people, it was an extremely dangerous and careless idea. However, to us, it was a way to meet new people outside of our circle while also saving money. While in Austin, we also decided we had brought too many clothes with us in our car, so we held a very cheap mini-garage sale at 7am before the SXSW events of the day started. It was very successful. All of our clothes were sold off. I would call this column ‘Real Startup Life Stories’ or something of that nature.
If you could win any award in the world, which would you be most proud to possess?
A Nobel Peace Prize because that would mean I lived up to my expectations of myself and accomplished something great.
If you were stuck on an elevator for two hours, what one person (dead or alive) would you choose to be stuck with?
My dad; he was such a smart and generous man. His funeral was attended by over 3,000 people, including people who flew in from outside the US to pay their last respects. I knew I had a good dad, but I didn’t realize until he was gone that I had a great dad.
IYO, which institution is most due for disruption?
If you had to pick a drink to describe yourself (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) what would it be?
Sweet Tea. Can be served hot or cold and still tastes great.
Tell us about your biggest failure.
For the most part, I’ve made very safe decisions in life. I’ve always done things that I knew how to do or was extremely good at. I’m guilty of not trying new things. While I was at Berkeley, my roommate convinced me to try my hand at Computer Science. I enrolled in a C++ class and quickly found out it was very difficult to code. Instead of trying to learn, I gave up mid-semester and wrote long messages to my T.A. about how hard the class when I was supposed to be writing code. Now that I own a social network, I really wish I had paid attention in class so that I could at least contribute to the development of our own apps. I don’t understand anything when it comes to coding.
What’s your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon?
We haven’t owned a TV in the past 8 months so on Sundays I like to catch up on some television shows and eat ice cream.
If you had to eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
My mom’s spicy Indonesian beef curry dish.
If you could live in any other time period, which would you choose?
The Renaissance; they were so creative and artistic.
What are you most excited about happening on the Silicon Bayou that you aren’t directly involved in?
I really like HaystackEDU. HaystackEDU seems like a great solution for teachers that are looking to relocate or new opportunities. I’ve been blessed to have some great teachers and professors in my years of schooling, and I often found myself thinking how certain teachers could be having a bigger impact in other settings. I think teachers naturally want to help as many students as possible and make as big of a difference in their students’ lives as possible, but it is hard to do without knowing where or what the need is. Giving teachers an easier way to see the opportunities out there would improve education and learning for a lot of students.
The standard superpower dichotomy:
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