Rory Marshall is a revered model that has been the face of Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, Paul Smith and Lancome to name but a few. For the past couple of years his lifestyle has been a hectic combination of endless flights around the world, as well as creating the hugely anticipated Bongal.com.
Now fashion modeling may sound like a glamorous lifestyle to most; spending time with beautiful models, seemingly being waited-on hand and foot, and seeing some of the most cosmopolitan places in the world for free, but the truth is, it can be an extremely lonely job.
It was during one of Marshall’s moments of boredom during a shoot, which had been delayed, that he found himself in the studio using some of the most well known social networks.
He realised that although he could talk to his existing friends, there was nowhere he could discuss about or find people who shared his interests (these ranged from London nightlife, cooking, interior design through to Italian travel).
His Facebook only showed what his friends were doing back home, MySpace is just swamped with unfamiliar music and you can’t write enough on Twitter to have an in-depth conversation with anyone to find out what they are doing. Rory wondered why he couldn’t just go and find something he was interested in, but also find out if there was anything happening that evening, and from this he came up with the idea of an ‘interests network,’ which he eventually named ‘bongal’.
Bongal is the unique concept of connecting people through groups based on their interests and hobbies. Basically it’s a giant forum with an unlimited scope for what people want to chat about. If this had been invented before Marshall got bored, he wouldn’t have had to scour the net trying to find out what was going on in London that night. Instead he could have just gone onto the London group and find out what was happening that night, through what other users had posted on the group.
“I wanted to create a platform that the average Joe could use”, Marshall continued “to be able to interact with others who are into the same stuff as you is completely unique to the internet. Sure you can join a forum and chat, but bongal is about chatting about multiple things, which are all housed under one roof.”
After having the brainwave, Marshall decided that he would try and turn bongal into a business and decided to downgrade his modeling schedule in order to do it. He got in contact with Rippleffect, the largest web agency out side London and got the ball rolling.
“I thought it would be best to move back to Ilkley, which is where the majority of my friends and family are based, but it also let me get a little closer to the agency, so I could be in close contact with them, whilst Bongal was getting developed” Marshall said, as he sat facing me in the contemporary Bongal office, which looks out onto the Ilkley moors on one side, and a quaint shopping street on the other.
Since the birth of Bongal, Mashall has continued to expand his brainchild. In only three months the website has grown to a membership of over 10,000 and the bongal website has also developed rapidly. It has recently come out of beta testing and is due for another upgrade in the coming weeks.
Marshall’s dedication to the growth of bongal has been nothing short unbelievable. He has cut his modeling career back and has decided to follow his dream of creating an interesting social platform that anybody can use. This really is a serious career change for the model that doesn’t want to feel alone in the middle of a bustling city ever again.
Everyone has their own bongal DNA; a distinct blend of personality and pastimes, tastes and talents that make you, you. Our community remembers what you tell it and gives you the platform to explore and interact with groups and individuals that ‘get’ what you’re all about.