In a world where everyone is seeking the next big social network, WiGo just might fill the void.
Created and launched in September by a college dropout named Ben Kaplan, WiGo has been hitting college campuses across the nation. Here’s the catch, students have to get their schools to sign up in order for WiGo to be unlocked on campus. Each school has ambassadors that try to get 5% of the college’s population to join – the number needed to open the app. My university just launched a major WiGo event in order to bring WiGo to Bucknell.
Photo of Bucknell WiGo launch taken as screen shot from Facebook, courtesy of Devin Collins
WiGo has been compared to the recently popular app, Yik Yak; however, Ben Kaplan disagrees. He told Business Insider that he wants WiGo to be a “LinkedIn for colleges” because it has the “network effect.” Certainly, Kaplan’s dreams are coming true. So far, WiGo has been “downloaded and requested at more than 1,200 campuses, is in use at 73 schools, and has more than 100,000 active users.” More interestingly, WiGo is said to be valued at around $14 million after gaining $1.5 million in venture funding. Investors include other social media gurus like Tinder cofounders Sean Rad and Justin Mateen.
Both images taken as screen shots by Devin Collins, courtesy of the iTunes App Store
So how did the idea come about? Kaplan explains to the public that he got sick of his friends constantly asking the same questions: “What bar are we going to? Where should we meet up?” I can relate to his frustration of back-and-forth texting and Facebook messaging to figure out who is going out and where to go. Kaplan first built the app for his own school, Holy Cross, using his parents’ money and a hired programmer to make it happen.
Paul English, founder of Kayak and another investor in WiGo, introduced Kaplan to Giuliano Giacaglia, At 21, Giacaglia graduated from MIT with a master’s degree in artificial intelligence and robotics, and became a WiGo cofounder. The company employs five people 19 to 25, four of whom dropped out of college to work there. With the help of college campus ambassadors, WiGo is spreading quickly and nationally into the next big thing in social media.
Featured image taken as screen shot by Devin Collins, courtesy of Business Insider