Nadia Odunayo is a tech entrepreneur as well as the CEO and founder of The Storygraph, an independently owned website based on tracking and recommending books to read. She studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the University of Oxford, intending to enter into investment banking. However, she quickly decided to shift gears and went on to study coding at Makers Academy, which led to her career as a software engineer at Pivotal Labs, where she was a consultant for startups for their apps and websites.
Later when a prospective job in the U.S. did not work out, she “no longer wanted to work for anyone else” and decided to follow her true passions by experimenting with a few side projects, one of them being The Storygraph in 2019. Inspired by her own love of reading, she originally designed this app to fill in the gaps for features that Goodreads, a popular book tracker among the book community, was lacking.
Nadia quickly realized that she wasn’t the only one who wanted these features in the book tracker, such as quarter and half star rating capabilities, better recommendation algorithms, content warning functions, and the ability to filter books based on emotions. Currently, the book-tech space is limited to very few competitors, and the Amazon-owned Goodreads is the most well-known and widely used book tracking website among book lovers in the US. It was created in 2006 and has been the main player in the book tech space for many years. It was initially an independent company that was bought by Amazon; since then many companies have been reluctant to take on the daunting position of competing with the huge company for space in the book tech area, but Odunayo is among the few who persevered.
Goodreads seemed to become a space that valued promoting books and catered towards publishers’ needs more than user needs following its acquisition by Amazon. Due to the huge size of the company it proved to be difficult to prioritize Goodreads and readers’ needs, resulting in a history of poor feedback. This pushed Nadia to have the users' needs at the top of her list of priorities. Nadia plays a significant role in the primary development of the website and app and strives to make the app user-focused, such as by spending a significant amount of time conducting customer research. This includes asking readers what they would like to be implemented in the app, reading through customer feedback forms, and making sure the app is fulfilling the needs of the reader. She is transparent with the development roadmap for the service, ensuring readers that their voices are heard and taken into consideration. Nadia also aims to keep the app independent for as long as possible while keeping the business sustainable.
Nadia’s hard work and determination has paid off as The Storygraph has grown significantly since its launch less than a year ago, in January of 2021. She is an inspiration to girls who are afraid of entering a male-dominated technology industry or taking risks due to the possibility of failure. The success of Odunayo’s The Storygraph competing in a space dominated by a giant tech company like Amazon is just another example of how you can achieve anything if you set your mind to it.
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