Updated: Jan 27
Melz World - Varsity/ Freelance 1.0
While studying my second year in Psychology/ Information Systems and Technology (ISTN) at University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN) Pietermaritzburg (PMB), I began creating armature digital artworks for the varsity boarding establishments /residences and events organized by the UKZN Student Representative Council SRC and Student Residence committees at the time.
I added fine art modules to my degree and followed up with art history and digital art. During this time I picked up video editing and 2D flash animation skills
A friend of mine by the name Musenga ____ introduced me to photoshop, until now I had been using Microsoft 2005 Paint to design event posters and restaurant menus.
I created the website for and began working as an online editor at the Pietermaritzburg based varsity newspaper, at the time called Nux (Natal University Chronicles) now absorbed into the centralized UKZN Ndaba Online.
Using WiX I created a website called MelzWorld where I would showcase the works I've done and prices.
I worked at a video conferencing company called Bureau Connect in Uvongo on the South Coast of KZN, now VenueSearch.co.za, and I was in charge of maintaining the database of video conferencing venues around South Africa. Then worked at Edgars Customer Accounts department, updating the payments of accounts on the accounting system.
I moved back to Durban together with a friend and at the time new business partner, Bailey Hart. His role in the business was client acquisition and finance.
I began working at The Keys on Florida Sports Bar and he began working for Canon Office Automation sales. This was enough to pay for a flat in Morningside and run the company from.
Southern Alliance - Durban/ Freelance 2.0
I decided on a company name Southern Alliance representing the union between two friends from the South Coast.
Southern Alliance logo - Picturing Melikhaya (Top) and Bailey (Bottom).
We bought the domain southernalliance.co.za created a website using site builder followed by a WordPress site showing the works I've done and the prices I charge for each of the services. Later updated the website to a WiX website.
We began creating websites and video content for clients that Bailey knew in Durban including Dylan Herman from The Keys on Florida (Bar and Restaurant) , Jason Strydom form Striker Security.
We rented a property in Durban North which was a private property converted to an office space in a residential area. So there was very little walk-in traffic, at R 7000 month we were still only getting the same amount of clients.
Southern Alliance employs' Tony Caz and Luke __________ with no real salary but rather a share from the upcoming events, as Southern Alliance began creating events in Durban and on the South Coast. Most notably bringing Black Motion to Backline in Margate for about 25 k using money from websites and Bailey's nest egg - left for him by his parents.
Black Motion @Backline '13 - Designed by Melikhaya Noqamza
Other acts include Dr Roger Goode, Dj Poppy, Bhaskar, Mark Stent and Royal K. Biggest sponsor was SAB Miller who gave use 15k for exclusive rights to supplying beers at out event at Joe Cools.
Roger Goode @JoeCools '13 - Designed by Melikhaya Noqamza
Bailey and I had a fall out based on disagreement that money was being used for events and focus was shifting from the original goal of providing digital art products for clients. Website domains weren't being paid because money was used for Dj and venue payments and allot events made losses.
So events became a gamble that was bringing the reputation of the company down. This made me vow that I would not be part of any more events unless they were fully sponsored.
Southern Alliance again began to focus on digital art and regain its reputation. I was running solo and I planned to keep it that way.
Through another friend from the South Coast Kyle Motto-Ross, I became an in-house digital artist at Africa Tuff a Durban based Construction material factory. Creating product and instructional videos and marketing material, (Posters, Catalogues and Web Pages).
I began working as web designer Overflow, creating graphics for websites, apps and developing websites and video ads as well as handling the social media marketing.
In the evenings I was creating websites and graphics for other clients that I would meet during my lunch breaks in Gateway. The whole reason I decided to work for a company similar to mine was to see how the company worked what the day to day tasks are from 8 am till 5 pm because as a freelancer you make up rules as you go along.
Overflow/ iMultimedia - Durban/ Freelance 3.0
What I saw was that large marketing companies need an easy to use a la cart digital art store. A 'la cart is a menu where you choose form separate items on the menu to make a meal much like a buffet.
I decided that I want to make a digital services buffet. The name of this platform would be called iMultimedia, the "i" representing no more partnerships and then referencing iMac with the meaning also inspired by the return of the founder to the helm after rough seas. Multimedia is the work as it uses multiple types of media.
Overflow wasn’t a large marketing company but it was paying allot monthly in salaries to me and other people for work that could be outsourced and paid for what was used. I imagined Overflow ordering a website design and a social media plan in the same way that one would order food at a drive thru.
And just like a drive thru there would be people on the other side of the website/ order screen satisfying the digital orders, such as websites, logos etc.
The slogan for iMultimedia became the popular products provided by me: Web, video, graphics, animation, apps and later I added photography, strategy, script, sound and fine art.
I began studying at UKZN again to obtain my final semester and degree, whilst working at Overflow. I obtained skills in 3D modeling and animation during this time.
UKZN/ iMultimedia - PMB/ Freelance 3.0
I parted ways with Overflow and Durban to continue studying my Honors in Visual Arts degree full time at UKZN PMB funded by my parents. The focus of my research was Augmented Reality App creation, and 3D modeling and animation for activism.
During my time at Overflow I also learned about the structure of recurring payments and how lucrative they are. My boss Terrence Ramiah was made rich through his call centers and Overflow was a pet project, that was more of an expense rather than an asset.
The two call centers had about 100 people working at each and each had to make a target of about 10 sales a day making 300 accounts that will be debited R99/month . That’s 200 Call Center Agents creating 300 sales each which equals 60 000 sales for that month then multiplied by the debit amount which is 100 that’s 600 000/ month.
This made me look at iMultimedia to find out which product was the most relevant as a monthly payment product and that product was domains. They are naturally purchased on subscription basis so I tilted the scales of focus to be more towards domain sales.
UKZN/ iMultimedia - PMB/ Domain 1.0 - Freelance 4.0
iMultimedia becomes a re-seller for Afrihost and all that means is that I pay them R500/month for 50 Gigs of space
When I sell a domain I assign 500Mb of space to that account allowing for a very small profit so as to keep the product value high.
Domain sales is the core of the business at this stage yet it won't yield as much profits as web development. The current domain product is " A Domain Name and 5 Business Email Accounts" for R700/ year and website is between R5500 and R7500.
The reason domains are more important is that delivery is instant whereas for a design or website you have to wait and we have to use more time as a company.
With domain sales all we have to do is sell 50 domains a day obviously through an automated system and that 150 domains that month. 150 x 700 = 105,000 subtract the service fees from the mother host 40 k - 60 k Profit every year on that single month and then we repeat the same for the rest of the eleven months that’s 6 0 000 x 12 = 720 000 Profit. One could leave it there and just collect 720 000 per year or sell another 150 domains the next year.
The only staff that’s needed is staff that’s going to perform the task of marketing and staff that will create the marketing material for the domain sales.
I see a near future where every day we create a new meme and poster and short video selling domains.
The importance in domain sales is further emphasized by the natural flow of project development. First a small to medium company will decide on a name, after that they should consider a domain to secure that name before creating marketing material. Once the domain name is secured, the client has a wide variety of digital products for the next stage which is branding , the creation of you logo, flyers, banners video and web content.
While there are clients who have budgets for a R 1500 logo some clients are happy with a simple logo or poster which we charge R500 and later added other products that can be done for R500 including Photo-shoot 500, Video Shoot 500, Drone Shoot 500, Video Edit 500, Image Edit, Advert Script, Domain Parking, Social Media 500 and all Fine Art products. Thus explaining the new company slogan iMultimedia - The R500 Shop and the secondary tag line which is The Paintbrush with Wings which is the description of the company logo which is a paintbrush with wings, referencing the speed and the evolution of the paintbrush, from canvas painting to 3D animation.
The R500 is also inspired by the largest gig/ freelance service website fiverr.com which is valued at 100 Million dollars and began as a similar site that charged 5 dollars - R70 for logo and poster designs.
UKZN/ iMultimedia - PMB/ The Platform
End User - Client
iMultimedia aims to develop a gaming app that is routed in the real world. The app will turn the process of starting a business into a game much like the sims a simulation game about building fictional living spaces. Instead with iMultimedia you can build a fictional business that will exist on your phone and you can add things based on your fictional budget and you can have a fictional domain and fictional logo.
Much like stock trade gaming apps that allow you to bet on fictional stocks in the real stock exchange. The app will allow you to slowly start turning your fictional business into a real one. The app will have in-app purchases for domains and the starting stages of corporate branding like logo design and web design in the fictional business avatar. You will be notified that you are purchasing the real thing.
They can also purchase ready made products at a cheaper rate.
End User - Artist
For the artist, we have a similar game model which is more competition based. As an artist daily competitions testing your skills in photography, graphic design, video editing, web design will be posted.
The best artwork in that challenge will posted at the top, using a point system. Other artists in the same category will swipe right for the artwork they like. Each artist swipe has different point values based on their success on previous challenges.
So an artist with higher ranking artworks will have a vote that gives more points.
The artworks will be stored in their profiles and can appear when the End User - Client searches for Poster design on the app he/she will see the highest ranking poster similar to what she is looking for. Artists will also be shown ranked based on their overall and recent challenge standings.
Average project price will be R500 and artists will be awarded price bonuses for wining projects, selling their services/ gigs for a higher price.
The data obtained from both the website and app will be used to predict consumer behavior. What artworks people request and when, allowing us to created targeted advertising.
We already - with the 10 years of creating posters and logos - know that during the festive season restaurants and nightclubs want posters for their December specials and that newly registered companies will most probably purchase a domain before anything else.