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New app reinvents weekends
Quinnipiac’s unique nightlife separates it from many schools in the nation. Students can choose to go to one of the several bars that line Whitney Ave, test their luck in the club scene of New Haven, or hit up a good old house party. The trouble with this is that with so many different options, it can be difficult for students to make a decision on where they want to de-stress after a long school week.
However, with the introduction of WiGo, a new app that allows for students to see who is going where on any given night, chaos has transitioned into clarity for the social undergraduate according to founder and CEO Ben Kaplan.
WiGo, short for “Who is going out?” was introduced to the campus of Holy Cross in 2014 where Kaplan studied business and played hockey. He noticed how students can struggle when deciding where to go out on the weekends. Between Kaplan’s freshman and sophomore year, he began developing the early stages of the WiGo app. To Kaplan’s surprise, three weeks after the launch, more than half of the student body at Holy Cross was using the app.
“I was a one man team,” Kaplan said. “I just paid someone to develop the app. There was no company structure, it was just me working out of my dorm room while doing my homework and while playing Division I hockey.”
Kaplan was then introduced to Kayak.com co-founder and former Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Paul English. After a brief meeting, English decided to invest in the app. Kaplan then chose to drop out of Holy Cross after his sophomore year to fully pursue WiGo. English had just founded Blade, a consumer tech startup foundry in Boston, and offered WiGo a spot as one of his first companies to work with.
“Within five minutes of talking to Paul, he offered me a quarter of a million dollars,” Kaplan said. “I was given the opportunity to come work out of his office and really take a step forward nationally. I was just blown away.”
English then introduced Kaplan to Giuliano Giacaglia, a graduate of MIT who had interned for Facebook and Microsoft before deciding to join the WiGo team.
“Giuliano is a very rare breed,” Kaplan said. “He was basically the first guy to come on board and upon meeting him I offered him the CTO role so he could be the tech guy and I could be the business guy.”
The app connects with the user’s Facebook accounts to find friends to follow. On the weekends, the app is full of activity with users entering in events that they plan to attend, varying from Aunt Chilada’s on Fridays to Toad’s Place on Saturdays. Students are also able to “tap” friends and tell them “I want to see you out.” It has also been used for sports games and philanthropy events on campus.
“It makes the whole process of knowing who’s going out and where so much easier,” said Jake Magner, a senior marketing major and WiGo campus representative. “I use it almost everyday so I can see where my friends are going and which venue will be more fun.”
WiGo launched nationally this past August and is now being used at more than 800 schools around the nation. Among the most active schools on WiGo is Quinnipiac, where about 63 percent of the population is using the app. According to the blog on WiGo’s website, Quinnipiac is the top party school in Connecticut, based on activity in the app.
“I really credit so much to Quinnipiac,” Kaplan said. “We just accepted an investment from both of the Tinder founders, and to show them how WiGo works, we used a Friday night at Quinnipiac as an ideal example of the app’s functionality.”
Although the majority of Quinnipiac’s campus is using WiGo throughout the week, there are still some students who are reluctant to get on the app.
“I think it’s a really cool concept,” senior marketing major Dennis DeSantis said. “But sometimes it’s nice going somewhere and not know who is going to be there and what to expect.”
WiGo has grown in users faster than both Facebook and Tinder. The next version of WiGo is coming out in about a month with some new features including an “Event Story” which is similar to the “My Story” feature on Snapchat, which will get users coming back to the app throughout the day.
“It’s definitely picking up speed,” said Andrew Dunbar, a sophomore mechanical engineering major. “Almost every day I am getting new followers and people are tapping me to go out.”