There is another player emerging on the ever-growing social media landscape. That entrant is WiGo, a social media app that is an acronym for “Who Is Going Out.” WiGo was founded by its current CEO Ben Kaplan, a 23-year-old Holy Cross dropout and former hockey player. The app was created after Kaplan pitched his idea to a panel for a Holy Cross “Shark Tank” competition his Freshman year. Kaplan’s idea and pitch was best in show and took first place. Thereafter, Kaplan commissioned a software development firm to get a beta version out for testing. After that phase, Kaplan secured a round of funding and partnered up with Kayak.com co-founder Paul English. From there, the company launched and within the three weeks after the January 2014 start, more than half of the Holy Cross student body downloaded the app.
WiGo is currently free to download and free of advertisements. And, Kaplan would like to keep the app free: he currently has no plans to monetize the app and is primarily interested in getting college students hooked on WiGo. While the app currently makes no money, it is worth noting that Instagram was bought from Facebook for $1.1 billion with no revenue and no real monetization strategy in place. Moreover, social media app Yik Yak has a $40 million valuation, despite the fact that they have no revenue to date. If an app is attractive to many, the money will follow. WiGo is already valued at 15M.
Distinguishing from the field
Some of you may be familiar with Foursquare or Swarm. But WiGo does not consider them direct competitors. Kaplan deems them check-in apps, whereas WiGo is a “social planning app.”
Kaplan thinks this is the main difference:
• WiGo helps college kids decide which bar/party they’re going to go to, based on what their classmates are doing.
• Foursquare/Swarm let’s people broadcast where they already are, and that is tantamount to glorified bragging. Once you’re already there, it’s too late.
WiGo aims to get you to the right place, the rest is up to you.
What is more, WiGo is 100 percent exclusive to college students at this time. This similar to Facebook’s foray into Social Media. While some may view this exclusivity as a bad thing, it does drive interest, curiosity, and lastly, desire for access. When one goes to download the app, they are met with a tag line that proudly notes: “Our student-only filter blocks all townies, adults and other randos.” If you’re a local townie you are left to conclude that the app must be “wicked pissa ked, it’s exclusive.”
WiGo creates separate, private, and closely monitored networks for each school. To unlock the app at a college, anywhere from 800 to 1,200 users from the school must download the app.
To utilize the app, one must tap people you want to see out, or simply invite them to join you. And, the app kind of takes a page out of Snapchat’s playbook–WiGo resets every morning, so everything from the night before is wiped clean. Every day on WiGo is essentially a new day.
Despite the fact that WiGoers can see the location of fellow WiGoers in their area, Kaplan assures safety is a top priority of the company.
WiGo’s .edu address requirement does increase safety, but that can be a tough issue when the company wants expand. WiGo also allows users to link private E-mail addresses, where the user must accept or decline anybody who wishes to follow them. Though this is not a default feature of the WiGo app, you can turn it on by going to the “Who” screen, clicking “edit” in your profile, and toggling the private account setting to on. If that is not enough, you can always simply block users. Depending on your reason for blocking a WiGoer, the Boston development team can go in and investigate that user and if they feel that the person should not be on WiGo, they immediately blacklist him.
The app hit 50,000 users in the first six weeks, which was faster than Tinder’s initial growth: Not bad for a couple of Sophomore dropouts.
I think this may have been cool when I was in college; but, only if most of my buddies used the app. Is this totally lame? Or would you rather learn about events an alternative way?