November 7, 2017
Congratulations to our October Qualification Grant finalists. Once again, this community has made our monthly decisions extremely difficult. And we’re so appreciative.
A special congratulations to the recipient of the October Qualification Grant, Jaqui McCarthy, Founder/CEO of WiGo Trips.
Jaqui took some time to respond to our interview via video. Her responses are available in text form as well.
If you’re interested in getting involved with WiGo Trips, join them for beta.
WN: What drove you to create WiGo Trips?
JM: In 2015, I was planning a trip to Paris, France. I posted about it on a group community on Facebook. I said, “Hey, does anyone want to go to Paris with me?” I had several people who said “Yeah, we want to go.” Six of us ended up going and we had the most incredible time ever.
One of the participants who joined us has a condition called cerebral palsy, and it made walking through the streets of Paris difficult. When we got back to the US he called me up and said, “I want to say thank you so much for putting this trip together. If it wasn’t for you and you all treating me like family I wouldn’t of had the experience I had. Thank you.” That in itself was not the reason we created WiGo Trips, but that had redefined what it meaned to travel for me. Everything. It just blew me away.
Fast forward four months and I was laid off from my full time job. So I thought ‘this will be my opportunity… I will go out into the world and do photo shoots… it will be amazing and that is how I will make my living.’
Well, life had other plans for me. I started my masters in research psychology, and I had discovered some new information. It sent me on an existential breakdown, and it put me on a crazy trajectory trying to find meaning and purpose in a world I didn’t think had any anymore. So what did I do? I traveled.
I started seeing these interactions, these trajectories happen between people that have never met before. And I knew right then that whatever that was I needed to create more of it. It wasn’t going to be enough to create a trip here or there — I had to create something that was going to set the whole world free.
Trying to figure out this whole thing, I realized the importance of connections. When we are done, when we are all gone… what’s going to be left behind? Memories that we created and the people that we made those memories with. That’s how we are going to live on, and so the idea for WiGo Trips came to be from there.
I thought: ‘What if we create this platform, this place… where other travelers, like myself, are able to create these trips and post them on a marketplace?’ Other travelers are able to see the trips and request to request that trip with me, and experience it with me, and I can make a living doing that. Engaging with other people, engaging with them, and showing them different parts of the world…
WN: Discuss the process and timeline of developing the app
JM: This started last year, and it’s been quite the process. I am not a technical founder, but I did end up teaching myself how to code along the way. I created the first and second prototype.
I’ve been lucky and fortunate enough to find my cofounder Lonnie Laub, who has been leading our technology build with our developers. He’s just been an absolutely incredible business partner to have on board.
WN: Where are your marketing efforts focused?
JM: Our marketing efforts are completely gross rooted. Right now we have a few hundred beta testers. We were actually able to acquire them through spending $50.
The overall approach is social media, engagement and interacting with our fellow travelers.
WN: How will you monetize the business?
JM: WiGo Trips is what’s called a double sided platform, so our travelers represent both the demand side and the supply side. Travelers who create trips are able post the trips — the supply side. On the demand side, other travelers from around the wold who are looking for unique and novel trips can see those trips, and request to join them. The organizer approves, and then they would pay the organizer on the platform and pay a fee on top of what the organizer asks.
When a traveler sees a trip, they are going to see a bundled price with the organizers asking price, which we do not control. (It’s completely controlled by the organizer.) The percentage is how we make money.
WN: What are your plans for the grant money?
JM: The grant funds will go to app development.
WN: Share some advice you would give to an aspiring female entrepreneur
JM: Own your inner alpha. You are in this startup journey for a reason… and that’s because you are a mission-driven woman. Don’t ever be ashamed of that. Don’t ever settle for anything less than that. Own it, and wear it with pride.