Starting from scratch – How our traumas led to our business
We can’t talk about our vision and ideas for Allyens without discussing how we got here in the first place. It was not an easy process (is it ever?) and it was not like companies that started with a light bulb going off in someone’s head, creating a product out of nothing, being successful and living happily ever after. Although we do hope it ends that way (actually we hope it never ends), this story is a little more personal.
It’s all about identity
We are not the easiest people in today’s society. We don’t easily fit in a box, yet we’re constantly labeled as if we do. We’re always searching for the balance between the different identities we exist of and we’re never completely standing on one side of the scale. Starting up Allyens was more than a part of this search, it was like looking for a way out. We needed a way out of the simple-minded solutions that are being created and implemented in today’s companies, to reach people those companies don’t even know anything about. We were looking for ways to feel connected with the world around us and help others connect with their environment too. We were looking for something new and we decided we were the one’s who were going to create it.
Being here in this world with our own superdiverse identities, we were well aware of the challenges that existed and still exist in our societies and in the way we communicate with each other. Based on stereotypes, labels or simply rumors, many people focus on how we’re all so different from each other and start the conversation from this conclusion. Many brands and companies do this too, making it part of their strategy. We believe that’s why we never felt approached by them. We were and are still determined to change this.
From philosophy to business
We had already developed Mvslim.com, an online platform that inspires millions of people everywhere, spreading positive content and influencing the mainstream discourse about today’s millennials. Since this became a huge success, we got invited to give a presentation at an event of Open VRT, a community for digital creatives that was set up by the public broadcaster of Flanders. The host of the event was Tom De Cock, who is pretty much Belgium’s most creative radio host, at least according to us. He was excited about our presentation and invited us to his home, where we had a great conversation about our philosophy, how we think media should improve their communication strategies and become more inclusive. He was so excited that it motivated us to take the first step and translate our ideas to a real business.
So we got to work. We shared our thoughts and ideas with others and it seemed very recognizable for many people in our environment. A lot of them didn’t feel approached by the majority of today’s brands, whether in media or other industries, and felt alienated. We knew we wanted to do something about it, we already had our ideas, our vision, but we didn’t have a name. It became a Summer brainstorm session that ended with the name Allyens, merging the words “alien” and “ally”. Because we want to transform aliens (companies, people, anyone who isn’t communicating in an inclusive way) to allies (those who are), with our own vision of how we choose to connect people with each other. Instead of focussing on how we’re different from each other, we look for common ground between people, different target groups that a brand or organization is looking to connect with. And there are many, but that doesn’t mean they all work for everyone as well. That’s where we enter: in the search for similarities that can expand a company in a more open and positive direction.
In the meantime, we’ve already been working for exactly two years now, completely based on word of mouth of the great companies we got a chance to work with.