Podcast: Can Immilounge become a Facebook for Immigrants?

Nguah hoped Immilounge will be a niche success. (Photo: Flickr/DennisSylvesterHurd)

In a social media world, developing a niche social platform seems both inevitable and savvy. But in a market dominated by titans like Facebook (500 million active users) and Twitter (170 million active users), is there space for a young entrepreneur with a new social media start-up?

By founding Immilounge, Brian Nguah, a young entrepreneur from Kenya, is trying to appeal to immigrants in the United States. The platform promises to connect immigrants to resources they need and provide a place for communities to share experiences and support others through the difficult transitions of moving to a new country.

Nguah says he’s creating Immilounge based on his own experiences as an immigrant, and his need for a community like the one he hopes to build. But Immilounge faces challenges unique to a social media start-up. In appealing to immigrants, Immilounge must compete with local newspapers and community groups, as well as family and friends that immigrants already turn to for support. Language barriers and a lack of internet access are also obstacles that Immilounge must contend with when growing their membership base.

Nguah argues that Immilounge fills a void by compiling visa information and contacts for immigration lawyers while providing a way to connect, but he also acknowledges the many challenges that he faces as both an entrepreneur and an immigrant.

Fi2W is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation and the Sirus Fund.