Wiggio hits Silicon Valley
When Dana and I decided to pursue Wiggio full-time, no one told us we were taking the easy route. This past Friday was the 4th of July, which meant that the Wiggio team took its first weekday off since starting in January.
We decided that if this was going to be a short week, that we better find a way to pack five days of work into four. On Monday evening, we flew out to California for a Cornell entrepreneurship conference. The conference was hosted by an incubator called Plug and Play in Sunnyvale, CA.
During the day we took the Cal Train to San Francisco for a lunch meeting. It was a very different transit experience than what I was used to from growing up in New York! Dana and I did work on the train and spoke to a few passengers. We were starting to learn that there is a different lifestyle culture on the West coast than the East coast. People seemed more laid back, interested in tech, and more focused on “a balanced life.”
On Tuesday night we went to the conference. We were very lucky to have Wiggio selected as one of seven companies to pitch to a conference of 140 people. Mostly Cornell grads, the audience was composed of other entrepreneurs, angels, and VCs. Dana and I were a little intimidated to present in front of such a large crowd, but we were told afterwards from some of the VCs that they were very impressed by our presentation.
After our pitch, a huge networking event began. We connected with some potential investors and met with some interesting entrepreneurs. While catching up with Matt Ackerson, the founder of Scrimple, we met a Cornell rising senior, Christina Garcia who is interning at Google for the summer. She offered to take us to the Google headquarters in Mountainview, CA the next day.
The Google campus is just like the articles and blogs depict it. Unlimited free food for everyone! Dana, Matt, and I were welcomed with a selection of Naked juices. The whole place feels like a college campus, except you don’t have to pay for anything and much more is taken care of for you. Imagine several outdoor patio areas, people playing volleyball and doing yoga. There are on-campus laundry machines, dry cleaning, and babysitting. The workplace atmosphere is very relaxed. People dress casually. Everyone wears t-shirts and shorts, so Dana and I were incredibly out of place in business casual attire. Someone even asked me if I was there for an interview.
After a quick tour we were treated to lunch. Everything was fresh and prepared to order. This was a huge upgrade from a college dining hall. It was more like a buffet at a nice hotel. At lunch we met the intern class and I was impressed by bright, personable, interesting interns. Very similar to what I would have expected. I guess with all of the perks, Google isn’t having trouble recruiting.
After lunch we visited the whole-made ice cream bar, the game room with pinball, wii, and Play Station (fully stocked with Rock Band). We left wondering how we could tailor Wiggio headquarters to be more like the Mountain View campus.
In the afternoon after leaving Google, we were fortunate to get to meet with the company we are partnering with to support our free conference call feature. The company is called Rondee and they are based out of Silicon Valley, only 10 minutes from where we were in Sunnyvale. We felt very lucky to meet with the founder, Andre Vanier. He came to meet us, further discussed the technology infrastructure for the partnership, and even drove us to the airport. What a bright guy-a BA, JD, and MBA from Stanford. That couldn’t be easy. He had tremendous ideas for how to help grow our business.
We are just beginning to learn about the amazing culture of entrepreneurship. People feel naturally inclined to help each other. Dana and I are only 22, have been working on Wiggio for seven months now, and so many people have gone out of their way to help support us. Dan Cohen from the Cornell E-Lab and John Jaquette from Entrepreneurship@Cornell helped brainstorm ways to even get us out to California for this trip. Entrepreneurship@Cornell ended up helping to subsidize airfare. We are so grateful for all of the help we have received, but particularly the support we have consistently received from Cornell as an institution.
Now that we’re back from the 4th, we are gearing up for another exciting week. We are reaching out to student leaders and staff members in Residential Life at some of our target schools to teach them about Wiggio and how it could help them to organize their dorm floors. At the end of the week we’re on the road again, going to New York for three meetings with Cornell alums who have offered to give us some advice on the project.