Holy Cross Student Draws on Alumni Network While Creating New Social Networking App

“WiGo” aims to facilitate social planning for college students
March 3rd, 2014 by 


In April 2013, the Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies and the Entrepreneurship Club co-sponsored a “Shark Tank” competition, based on the popular television show. Participating students created a product and pitched the idea to a panel of alumni judges. The exercise gave students an opportunity to sell and defend their business plan to real life business leaders.

Ben Kaplan ’16 won the first place prize with his idea for a social networking app, “WiGo: Who is Going Out.”

Kaplan, a native of Burlington, Vt. and a member of the varsity men’s ice hockey team, presented his idea to judges Mary Moran ’77, Patrick Sansonetti ’93, John Schiffmann ’82, Chris Stephenson ’97 and Bryan Sparkes ’04. In his presentation, Kaplan had a comprehensive business plan for how the app would succeed with its intended market, how to market the app, and even a logo for it. Stephenson was so impressed by the initial pitch that he offered Kaplan the opportunity to meet with him at his offices in Seattle to discuss WiGo in more detail.

“The Shark Tank competition at Holy Cross was a fantastic experience,” says Kaplan. “Having the opportunity to formally present my idea to a panel of judges, especially alumni judges, was one I am very thankful for. Chris [Stephenson] has served as a personal advisor to my venture, helping me across the board, from selecting the right programmers to making savvy business decisions.”

The goal of Kaplan’s app is to simplify the process of making social plans for college students.  As a first-year student at the College, Kaplan felt that making social plans and determining “who is going out?” and “what is going on?” on a nightly basis was unnecessarily challenging. He observed that existing social networking platforms focused primarily on documenting past events, rather than planning upcoming events, but that he and his peers didn’t want to post all the details of their social plans online. Through brainstorming, a new social networking platform was born: WiGo.

WiGo allows students in an approved network to communicate their plans quickly and efficiently. A user can designate whether he or she is “going out,” see a list of other users in their network who are also interested in making plans for the evening, and chat with other users. Using a basic profile that includes a name, user picture and class year, users can create social plans within their college’s network and encourage friends and classmates to join them. Kaplan worked over the summer of 2013 with developers in his hometown of Burlington to move his app from an idea into a reality, testing each layer of code as it was completed to ensure that his vision was achieved in the final product.

After developing and building the app, the next big step was launching it. Kaplan created an ‘ambassador’ program, recruiting students on campus to help spread the word of the forthcoming product and build an interested user base. Over the course of the fall semester, he worked with those ambassadors to test prototypes of the app, working out glitches to ensure a smooth launch. Kaplan also enrolled in an independent study in entrepreneurship with David Chu, director of the Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies and Prebusiness Program, and associate professor of economics and accounting, which he said provided invaluable knowledge about starting a business.

“Doing this independent study with Ben was a wonderful learning experience for both of us,” said Chu. “He eagerly devoured all the reading assignments I gave him, while we worked together to solve real-life problems which he had encountered in developing the WiGo app.”

The app officially launched on December 18 on Apple’s app store, and is currently available only to Holy Cross students (users must have a valid g.holycross.edu email address). It has been downloaded by more than 1,000 Holy Cross students, and according to Kaplan, up to 90 percent of the registered users are using the app to make their social plans, depending on the night.

“The students have made the app as successful as it is,” says Kaplan. “They are responsible for its organic growth. Not only are they using it when they go out, they are offering feedback about features they would like to see in future builds. Initially keeping WiGo within the gates of Holy Cross has allowed me to gauge user feedback on a small scale and improve the app before rolling it out to other schools.”

In the coming months, Kaplan plans to expand the audience of the app to other campuses, using a model similar to his launch at Holy Cross. He is in the process of redesigning the app, taking into account feedback from users and allowing the app to communicate with other social media platforms, further improving the user experience. Additionally, Kaplan is putting together an entry for MassChallenge, held each summer in Boston, which offers start-ups the opportunity to network and connect with resources to be immediately successful. Kaplan is certainly familiar with the power of a good network, identifying the Holy Cross alumni network as being key to the success of his start-up thus far.

“The Holy Cross alumni network has helped me every step of the way,” says Kaplan. “Chris and I are currently discussing WiGo’s first round of funding, and all the alumni I have met with were so eager to help. It is truly a special feeling to be part of such a strong, loyal group.”

The second annual Shark Tank competition at the College will be held on Saturday, April 5 at 2 p.m. in Smith Labs 154. The competition is open to the campus community.

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COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 402(03)
HCEG (Holy Cross Entrepreneurs Group) is the student chapter of...
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Lecture: Alan Rosen on Jewish Religious Life and Practice During the Holocaust
11/1/2017
McFarland Center for Religion
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Alan Rosen, Kraft-Hiatt scholar-in-residence, will give a talk...
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Tickets for Department of Theatre Production of "Fuente Ovejuna"
11/1/2017
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 1
Buy tickets for “Fuente Ovejuna,” the theatre...
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Theatre Department's Fall Production: "Fuente Ovejuna"
11/2/2017
Theatre
Fenwick Theatre
“Fuente Ovejuna,” the theatre department’s fall production, is being...
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Poetry Reading by Gabrielle Calvocoressi
11/2/2017
English
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Join us for a poetry reading by Gabrielle Calvocoressi. Calvocoressi...
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COES Sales Club Meetings
11/2/2017
COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Edith Stein Hall 118C
Explore the sales and management industries of business and gain the tools to...
See More >>


PricewaterhouseCoopers Extreme Games Launch
11/2/2017
Economics and Accounting
Smith Laboratories 154
Open to the Public
See More >>


Tickets for Department of Theatre Production of "Fuente Ovejuna"
11/2/2017
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 1
Buy tickets for “Fuente Ovejuna,” the theatre...
See More >>


Theatre Department's Fall Production: "Fuente Ovejuna"
11/3/2017
Theatre
Fenwick Theatre
“Fuente Ovejuna,” the theatre department’s fall production, is being...
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Black Student Union Presents "Griot"
11/3/2017
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Ballroom & Dunn Rcpt
Open to the Public
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Open Enrollment Assistance
11/3/2017
Human Resources
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 410 - Computer Lab
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Tickets for Department of Theatre Production of "Fuente Ovejuna"
11/3/2017
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 1
Buy tickets for “Fuente Ovejuna,” the theatre...
See More >>


Theatre Department's Fall Production: "Fuente Ovejuna"
11/4/2017
Theatre
Fenwick Theatre
“Fuente Ovejuna,” the theatre department’s fall production, is being...
See More >>


Lecture: Seth Stephens-Davidowitz on Googling for Hate
11/6/2017
McFarland Center for Religion
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, a former Google data scientist and author...
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COES HC Capital Club Meeting
11/6/2017
COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Edith Stein Hall 216
HC Capital seeks to supplement the liberal arts by providing the technical skills...
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Tickets for Department of Theatre Production of "Fuente Ovejuna"
11/6/2017
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 1
Buy tickets for “Fuente Ovejuna,” the theatre...
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Creating an Inclusive Campus: Skills and Practice
11/6/2017
Office of Diversity and Inclusion
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 402(03)
This workshop will take diversity and inclusion from theory to...
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COES Finance Club Meetings
11/7/2017
COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Edith Stein Hall 216
The Finance Club offers students the opportunity to gain a stronger understanding...
See More >>


Tickets for Department of Theatre Production of "Fuente Ovejuna"
11/7/2017
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 1
Buy tickets for “Fuente Ovejuna,” the theatre...
See More >>


COES HCEG Meeting
11/8/2017
COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 402(03)
HCEG (Holy Cross Entrepreneurs Group) is the student chapter of...
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The Human Consequences of Anti-LGBTQ Policies: Experiences of LGBTQ Asylum Seekers
11/8/2017
Africana Studies
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Open to the Public
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Tickets for Department of Theatre Production of "Fuente Ovejuna"
11/8/2017
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 3
Buy tickets for “Fuente Ovejuna,” the theatre...
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Theatre Department's Fall Production: "Fuente Ovejuna"
11/9/2017
Theatre
Fenwick Theatre
“Fuente Ovejuna,” the theatre department’s fall production, is being...
See More >>


COES Sales Club Meetings
11/9/2017
COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Edith Stein Hall 118C
Explore the sales and management industries of business and gain the tools to...
See More >>


Tickets for Department of Theatre Production of "Fuente Ovejuna"
11/9/2017
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 1
Buy tickets for “Fuente Ovejuna,” the theatre...
See More >>


Theatre Department's Fall Production: "Fuente Ovejuna"
11/10/2017
Theatre
Fenwick Theatre
“Fuente Ovejuna,” the theatre department’s fall production, is being...
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Race: The Power of an Illusion Part 3
11/10/2017
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 519
*Episode III – “The House We Live In” focuses not...
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Talk by Prof Wiebke Deimling-Kant’s Theory of Sympathy
11/10/2017
Philosophy
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall 501
Open to the Public
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Tickets for Department of Theatre Production of "Fuente Ovejuna"
11/10/2017
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 1
Buy tickets for “Fuente Ovejuna,” the theatre...
See More >>


Theatre Department's Fall Production: "Fuente Ovejuna"
11/11/2017
Theatre
Fenwick Theatre
“Fuente Ovejuna,” the theatre department’s fall production, is being...
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COES HC Capital Club Meeting
11/13/2017
COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Edith Stein Hall 216
HC Capital seeks to supplement the liberal arts by providing the technical skills...
See More >>


Matthew Hughey Lecture
11/13/2017
Africana Studies
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Open to the Public
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COES Finance Club Meetings
11/14/2017
COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Edith Stein Hall 216
The Finance Club offers students the opportunity to gain a stronger understanding...
See More >>


Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu Lecture
11/14/2017
Asian Studies
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Open to the Public
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Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu (Event canceled)
11/15/2017
Asian Studies
Dinand Library Levis Browsing Room
Open to the Public
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Conference: Religion, Protest, and Social Upheaval
11/15/2017
McFarland Center for Religion
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
The recent proliferation of social, political, and economic protest...
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COES Sales Club Meetings
11/16/2017
COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Edith Stein Hall 118C
Explore the sales and management industries of business and gain the tools to...
See More >>


PricewaterhouseCoopers Extreme Games Competition
11/16/2017
Economics and Accounting
Smith Laboratories 154
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


"I Can't Remember What I Just Read!"
11/16/2017
Academic Services and Learning Resources
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(07)
Learn strategies to focus your attention and get more out of the...
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Conference: Religion, Protest, and Social Upheaval
11/16/2017
McFarland Center for Religion
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
The recent proliferation of social, political, and economic protest...
See More >>


Conference: Religion, Protest, and Social Upheaval
11/17/2017
McFarland Center for Religion
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
The recent proliferation of social, political, and economic protest...
See More >>


COES HC Capital Club Meeting
11/20/2017
COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Edith Stein Hall 216
HC Capital seeks to supplement the liberal arts by providing the technical skills...
See More >>


Tickets for Alternate College Theatre Production of "Stop Kiss"
11/20/2017
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 1
Buy tickets for “Stop Kiss,” the Alternate College...
See More >>


Tickets for Alternate College Theatre Production of "Stop Kiss"
11/20/2017
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 1
Buy tickets for “Stop Kiss,” the Alternate College...
See More >>


COES Finance Club Meetings
11/21/2017
COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Edith Stein Hall 216
The Finance Club offers students the opportunity to gain a stronger understanding...
See More >>


Tickets for Alternate College Theatre Production of "Stop Kiss"
11/21/2017
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 1
Buy tickets for “Stop Kiss,” the Alternate College...
See More >>


Tickets for Alternate College Theatre Production of "Stop Kiss"
11/21/2017
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 1
Buy tickets for “Stop Kiss,” the Alternate College...
See More >>


Tickets for Alternate College Theatre Production of "Stop Kiss"
11/21/2017
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 1
Buy tickets for “Stop Kiss,” the Alternate College...
See More >>


Open Enrollment Assistance
11/21/2017
Human Resources
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 410 - Computer Lab
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Tickets for Alternate College Theatre Production of "Stop Kiss"
11/21/2017
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 1
Buy tickets for “Stop Kiss,” the Alternate College...
See More >>


COES Sales Club Meetings
11/23/2017
COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Edith Stein Hall 118C
Explore the sales and management industries of business and gain the tools to...
See More >>


COES HC Capital Club Meeting
11/27/2017
COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Edith Stein Hall 216
HC Capital seeks to supplement the liberal arts by providing the technical skills...
See More >>


COES Finance Club Meetings
11/28/2017
COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Edith Stein Hall 216
The Finance Club offers students the opportunity to gain a stronger understanding...
See More >>


Study Smarter, Not Harder!
11/28/2017
Academic Services and Learning Resources
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 408(09)
Why is it so hard to remember what you just heard in lecture or...
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COES HCEG Meeting
11/29/2017
COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 402(03)
HCEG (Holy Cross Entrepreneurs Group) is the student chapter of...
See More >>


Alternate College Theatre Production: "Stop Kiss"
11/30/2017
Theatre
ers growing up and leaving their twenties behind. Callie and Sara meet in New York City at the turn of the millennium. Sara wants to change the world; Callie simply wants to get by. They could be best of friends or even something more – if only they could make a decision. But making that decision isn’t easy and may even cause dangerous repercussions. An Alternate College Theatre production directed by Alexis Rappaport ’19. Tickets
ers growing up and leaving their twenties behind. Callie and Sara meet in New York City at the turn of...
See More >>


COES Sales Club Meetings
11/30/2017
COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Edith Stein Hall 118C
Explore the sales and management industries of business and gain the tools to...
See More >>


Alternate College Theatre Production: "Stop Kiss"
12/1/2017
Theatre
ers growing up and leaving their twenties behind. Callie and Sara meet in New York City at the turn of the millennium. Sara wants to change the world; Callie simply wants to get by. They could be best of friends or even something more – if only they could make a decision. But making that decision isn’t easy and may even cause dangerous repercussions. An Alternate College Theatre production directed by Alexis Rappaport ’19. Tickets
ers growing up and leaving their twenties behind. Callie and Sara meet in New York City at the turn of...
See More >>


Lecture: Quayshawn Spencer on a Radical Solution to the Race Problem
12/1/2017
Philosophy
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Quayshawn Spencer, assistant professor of philosophy at the University...
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Alternate College Theatre Production: "Stop Kiss"
12/2/2017
Theatre
ers growing up and leaving their twenties behind. Callie and Sara meet in New York City at the turn of the millennium. Sara wants to change the world; Callie simply wants to get by. They could be best of friends or even something more – if only they could make a decision. But making that decision isn’t easy and may even cause dangerous repercussions. An Alternate College Theatre production directed by Alexis Rappaport ’19. Tickets
ers growing up and leaving their twenties behind. Callie and Sara meet in New York City at the turn of...
See More >>


Alternate College Theatre Production: "Stop Kiss"
12/2/2017
Theatre
Fenwick Theatre
“Stop Kiss,” an Alternate College Theatre production, is being staged on...
See More >>


Alternate College Theatre Production: "Stop Kiss"
12/3/2017
Theatre
Fenwick Theatre
“Stop Kiss,” an Alternate College Theatre production, is being staged on...
See More >>


COES HC Capital Club Meeting
12/4/2017
COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Edith Stein Hall 216
HC Capital seeks to supplement the liberal arts by providing the technical skills...
See More >>


COES Finance Club Meetings
12/5/2017
COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Edith Stein Hall 216
The Finance Club offers students the opportunity to gain a stronger understanding...
See More >>


COES Sales Club Meetings
12/7/2017
COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Edith Stein Hall 118C
Explore the sales and management industries of business and gain the tools to...
See More >>

See All