It’s Friday night, I just got out of my classes … what am I doing tonight? That’s the use case College of the Holy Cross student Ben Kaplan chose to solve with his new, free app WiGo (wee-go), which stands for “Who is going out?”
WiGo has a single purpose — quickly finding out which of your friends have gone or are going out, and where. It doesn’t use location-sensing tech — people name where they are going, but it doesn’t list addresses or detect coordinates. If you don’t know where “Tailgate Party” is, you must use WiGo’s built-in chat function to find out.
Clicking on a user’s profile tells you which of the user-named events is that person’s destination, or you can select the destination to find out who declared they are going there. At any point, users can change their destination.
A WiGo-er concerned about unwanted inquirers can set up a private account, with information hidden from non-followers and follow requests needing to be accepted.
The iOS app — an Android version comes out Sept. 1 — requires that you enter your .edu student address. Once verified through an emailed link, the student interacts only with other students in that school. But to guard against not having enough friends in your pack, the app will not be “unlocked” in a school until 100 students with the same .edu have registered.
That’s helped to drive the viral adoption, Kaplan told VentureBeat. “In the first couple of days [on Apple's App Store,],” he said, “there have been 5,000 downloads for about 300 colleges,” with no PR. Shortly after an unpublicized launch at Holy Cross, he said, “over half of iPhone users were using the app, [and] 90 percent were active users.”
“No one is doing exactly what we’re doing, imminent placing,” he said. Facebook, Foursquare, and others have the capability of finding out where your friends are, Kaplan acknowledged, but posting “‘what’s everybody doing tonight’ [on Facebook looks] desperate [and], at a real college place, your phone is in your pocket and you’re not checking in.”
Plus Facebook has histories, which WiGo proudly eschews. Early every morning, the app wipes clean your chats and where you’ve been the day before, a planned memory loss that emulates the Snapchat’s disappearing images.
Kaplan, who describes himself as a “22-year-old kid,” believes enough in his app that he’s quit College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., as a rising junior and Division 1 hockey player to work with his four-person company, which is part of Kayak cofounder Paul English’s Blade incubator in Boston. WiGo is the second product released so far from Blade, the other being another student-focused app, Classy.
Blade is not revealing its investments in these products. Angel investors for WiGo include New England Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, Toronto Maple Leafs player James van Riemsdyk, and Ben Fischman, founder of designer clothing site Rue La La & sport team clothing chain LIDS.
The app is “100 percent ad free,” Kaplan noted, “and we’re not worried about monetization.”
The intention, he indicated, is to grow like Instagram — and hopefully reach the point where, if someone asks, “Where is WiGo,” the answer is similar: acquired.
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