Dana Lampert, 22, the CEO of Wiggio and Lance Polivy, 22, the COO of Wiggio share the story of their success.
How we became entrepreneurs
While students at Cornell University, Lance and I were involved in lots of groups, from class projects, TA sections, and clubs, to fraternities, sports teams, business groups, charities, musical groups, and more. We were frustrated when each group used a different set of tools for their scheduling and communication. At any given time we’d be in five or six groups—some groups just used email to communicate, some used web-based calendars, and some pieced together a number of one-off tools. We were sick of clogged inboxes, using five different websites for five different functions, and all the other hassles associated with working in groups. We were tired of sending multiple emails back and forth just to set a meeting time. We were tired of that guy who just never knows where and when to be there. We were tired of list-servs, contact lists, phone-chains and incompatibilities. We wanted everything to be in one place, and we wanted it to be simple—so we created Wiggio.
What is Wiggio?
Wiggio is a free, simple website that makes it easy for students to work in groups. Wiggio’s features include mass text and voice messaging, shared calendaring (with text message reminders), easy file sharing, polling, free group conference calling, shared bookmarking and more. Wiggio’s strength lies in its simplicity: it takes under a minute to sign up, and there is no learning curve.
Wiggio was made for students, by students, and because we are the target market and understand what students need, we’re able to tailor the product for this market and only include what is necessary.
Launching a business
Starting this business right out of school has been a thrill. We always knew that down the road we wanted to pursue an opportunity like this, but didn’t expect it to come at age 22.
Being young has both helped us and hurt us. One advantage has been that we have no other responsibilities and are able to put in 20 hour days when need be. Also, being young has its advantages in that consumers and investors are always looking for that next hot technology to come out of colleges. Facebook, Google, and Microsoft are just some of the most successful examples of companies coming right out of college, so there is that natural level of intrigue associated with young, ambitious entrepreneurs going out on a limb and challenging the status quo.
One of the downsides of being a young entrepreneur is that some people assume you don’t have the experience. We’ve been able to offset some of these concerns by teaming up with web developers with years of industry experience under their belts. Having partners who have "been there and done that" has been critical to our success thus far. We’ve also established relationships with successful mentors and advisers—I’d advise anyone starting a business to put your ego aside and listen to and leverage all the free advice you can get. Cornell’s entrepreneurship program (eLab) has also provided us with some incredible resources.
We’ve secured financing from angel investors. The key to this was persistence, and pursuing every contact and connection that came our way. You never know who may get excited about your vision, so be ready to give your “elevator pitch” at any given moment. Also, don’t hold back—show your excitement and passion for the project. Ultimately the investors are not investing in the product, they’re investing in your team’s ability to build a high-growth business around the product. In the early stage that means rolling up your sleeves and doing whatever has to be done, whether it’s spending late nights in the office, tiring road trips to meet with potential investors and customers, or forgoing well-rounded meals for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Starting a company may not seem glamorous, but it is the most rewarding and challenging endeavor we’ve ever been involved with, and if you’re up for it, there’s nothing like taking a risk like this right out of school.