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Online magazine Hvngry out to challenge bad news

Three Otago students have launched a web magazine for high school students they say is designed to spread good news and change the way women are portrayed in some other media.

One of the founders, physics student Serena Chen, says the idea for Hvngry came from looking at other magazines she thought made people feel inferior and were damaging to self esteem.

“I offhandedly shouted that out through the internet and said, ‘guys, we should make a magazine that’s feminine, yet really motivational and smart and intelligent.

“We thought about the feeling when you turn on the TV or watch a movie or open a magazine and we see things, the same portrayals of women. [Hvngry] is the want for something more realistic. Women are portrayed in such a negative way – you have to look like this to be considered valuable.”

Chen’s co-founders are fellow physics student Maddy Cormack, the site’s story editor, and Emily Sutton, a Master of Entrepreneurship student who also founded the Formed biotech jewellery venture. Sutton successfully crowdfunded Formed Jewellery on PledgeMe last year.

“Emily definitely asks the hard questions,” says Chen. “Maddy and I are so passionate about this project, we tend to not think about things like money. She’s been very forward with how we think about the business side.”

Hvngry has more than 60 people currently writing for the site or who have expressed an interest. It uses an open submission system, with submissions vetted and moderated by the founders.

Content is posted at least once a day, with two to three posts per day on average. The venture is also heavily focused on social media, with accounts on streaming service 8tracks, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest.

Chen built the site in WordPress and says hosting has been the business’ biggest expense. It will ask New Zealand startups and small businesses for in kind sponsorships and request mutual exposure, adding any advertising on Hvngry would need to be relevant and unobtrusive.

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Amanda Sachtleben is an Auckland writer and social media type, who's also Idealog's former tech editor and business journalist.

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