Find Your CLIQ, With Founder Nicola Gunby
In an era where traditional social media platforms seem to have fallen short in fostering genuine human connections, Nicola, a seasoned entrepreneur, embarked on a transformative journey that led to the creation of ‘CLIQ.’ Her journey begun as a Makeup Artist in Melbourne, where she recognised the challenge of building a client base, in a word-of-mouth industry. Seeing a gap in platforms for beauty professionals to market themselves easily, she launched an online marketplace, which quickly became one of the UK’s fastest-growing beauty platforms. However, Nicola’s quest for more meaningful connections persisted. In 2023, she introduced CLIQ, a social networking and community app emphasizing offline connections in an increasingly digital world. She believes that conventional social media apps, like Instagram and TikTok, kept users mindlessly scrolling and addicted, failing to foster real relationships. To combat this, CLIQ focuses on providing a safe, inclusive space for like-minded individuals to connect both online and offline, redefining the purpose of social media by prioritising genuine human connections.
In this exclusive interview, Nicola delves into the problems posed by today’s social media, the importance of fostering communities, the role of CLIQ in reshaping digital interaction, and the potential for dream partnerships. She also addresses the ongoing debate about age-appropriate social media usage, emphasizing the need for restrictions for younger users. Ultimately, Nicola underscores that community is vital in a world where belonging and connections are core elements of human well-being.
Tell us about your career and how it led you to founding the social network app ‘CLIQ’.
I am a 2nd time founder who came into the world of entrepreneurship the unconventional way and through a personal problem that I wanted to solve. Whilst working as a Makeup Artist and living in Melbourne for 2 years, I came across the struggle that all self-employed people come across – gaining work and building up your client base. I realised that beauty was such a word of mouth industry and that there wasn’t a platform out there that allowed beauty professionals to market themselves easily. From this idea, I created an online platform and marketplace specifically targeted at freelance beauty professionals. I had no expectations of this business at the beginning but over 3 years grew it to one of the fastest growing beauty marketplaces in the UK before being acquired by Revolution Beauty in 2022.
After the exit from my business I found myself in a place where I had moved down to London, wanted to meet new people and get inspired again but wasn’t sure how to do this. I realised that meeting people with similar interests to me and joining communities was more difficult than I thought it would be and that was where the idea of CLIQ was born. This was at the beginning of 2023 and we have just launched 6 months later!
How would you describe CLIQ to those wanting to seek genuine connections?
CLIQ is a social networking and community app that allows people to meet like-minded individuals, join interest-based groups, start their own communities and discover and host their own events. We are an inclusive, inspiring platform that is a hybrid model of bringing people together both online and offline through communities and events. The common theme across everybody, no matter who you are and what you do, is that everybody wants to meet new people and form genuine, lifelong connections which is what CLIQ is facilitating.
What does CLIQ offer that other community apps do not?
CLIQ is allowing people to tap into their interests and lifestyle – no matter how niche this is. We are offering a safe space for people to communicate and actively encouraging people to meet offline and get out from behind the phone, as we all know that is where real relationships are formed. It has been clear to see in our first weeks of launch with thousands of downloads and feedback is that people want a space where they can be themselves and be part of a community that they resonate with, and if they cannot find this community, they can create it themselves and start bringing people together.
You mention that social media has failed us. Can you elaborate on this?
Social media as we know it today, isn’t social. Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Snapchat etc. are all simply entertainment apps and the whole concept of these apps is to keep people mindlessly scrolling and addicted. Social media is a great tool for building a brand and creating a presence, but do you actually actively meet people on these platforms? Users are now realising that followers aren’t friends and what is the point in having 100k followers when you have no one IRL…
CLIQ will offer its community exclusive events. What can members expect to be invited to?
A difference with CLIQ is that we allow users to put on their own events and create their own communities. So many people want to start something themselves whether it is a side hustle or a full time community – but there are no platforms out there that allowing people to do this. With CLIQ we allow users to discover new communities and events to attend, whether it is a new festival with thousands of attendees or a small engaged local meetup – users can find something to suit them.
How do you think as a society we can be more social in a generation of social media?
Using CLIQ… We have been socially conditioned now to swipe for dates and order food at the click of a button however this quick fix doesn’t work for being social. On CLIQ, we allow people to feel comfortable and inclusive in an online community which then can be pushed offline, this way it takes away that first awkward meet out of the equation as you have already connected online and are already part of the same like-minded community. One of the most basic needs of humans is connections and community as we all want to feel part of something.
What problems do you think social media is presenting for a younger more impressionable Generation?
There are so many issues that social media is presenting, as society is constantly telling people that everything is an overnight success and comes easy. We are conditioned to think that the most airbrushed images, the most expensive material items and the most extravagant lifestyle is success. People only want to share their best bits online which is understandable however we all know that comparison is the thief of joy. Too many people are stuck behind the phone and there is currently a mental health and anxiety epidemic across the world which social media isn’t helping to solve. CLIQ is looking to solve this problem and to make a difference to as many lives as possible, including the younger generation which social media is second nature to.
Do you have any dream partnerships that you would like to make happen with CLIQ?
We see that there can be so many brand partnerships in the pipeline for CLIQ as brands are moving away from targeting individual people with marketing and they are now wanting to get in front of communities. As CLIQ will be home to so many engaged communities, we would love to get brands involved where they can sponsor these communities and really be involved in growing them. A dream partnership for us would be a global brand like Nike or Gymshark to come in and sponsor our fitness communities which in return encourages people to get out from behind the phone, get moving, meeting new people and encouraging a more enriched life for our users.
Do you think social media is being misused?
I think that social media can be a force for good or bad and it all depends on how you use it. So many people are doing social media detoxes (which I am sometimes guilty of) and this is proving that it is not good for peoples mental health. There are so many negatives to social media but these platforms aren’t going anywhere, this is our lives now forever so it needs to be turned into a positive with platforms that are encouraging people to use it in an empowering way!
Do you think there should be a ban on social media in children of a certain age?
I do think that most social media platforms aren’t suitable for under 16’s and there can be a danger to children under this age using it. For some platforms age 12-14 is one of the most engaged users which is crazy! At that age I don’t think you can really understand what you are consuming but on the other hand there can be the loneliness element to it if you are at school and all of your friends are on socials but you aren’t… I don’t think that banning is the answer however there definitely needs to be restrictions for underage users.
Why is community so important?
Community is the only thing that brings people together. Millions years ago we were in tribes and this is no different to how we live today. In the Hierarchy of Needs, straight after basic needs such as food and water shows that belongingness and love through relationships and friendships is so important to our health and wellbeing. People want relationships that they can turn to in a time of crisis. 30 years ago, if you were to ask people how many people they could turn to in a time of crisis the majority figure was 3 people. Now, you ask this question the majority figure is 0. Being part of an inclusive community, no matter how big or small is crucial to the way that we live our lives.
Download Cliq for iOS here.
Download Cliq for Android here.