WiGo Trips takes the isolation out of globetrotting, said Jaqui McCarthy, connecting people on a “LinkedIn for travellers” social networking app set to launch Saturday.
Soon to be available on iOS and Android, WiGo is expected to feature a marketplace through which users can display and discuss travel plans, CEO and co-founder McCarthy said. Selected friends — grouped together by a personality-based algorithm — are expected to be able to pay for a traveller to join them on trips, she noted.
“Some people do like to travel alone, but I think just having that real sense of belonging to a group of people that you actually enjoy spending time with — you don’t feel isolated,” said McCarthy.
At Saturday’s launch soiree at Plexpod Crossroads, wait-listed users will be free to download and use the app, she added, though the event is focused on bringing together the startup community to mingle and celebrate.
Twenty percent of all trip bookings at the event are expected to be donated to the Kansas City Startup Foundation’s MECA (Most Entrepreneurial Community in America) Challenge event series, said McCarthy. The founder serves as a mentor for the one-day innovation competition at which high school students from across the metro are gathered to learn and practice entrepreneurial thinking, she added.
The two-year journey to Saturday’s launch follows the end of a corporate career, she said, noting the resulting lengthy, worldview-changing “travel sabbatical” put life in perspective.
“What I recognized was that these strangers who’ve never met, were coming together and creating these moments… these connections. And that’s the moment I realized that when it’s all said and done, the memories we leave behind and the people we created them with are all that matter,” she said. “That was the moment that I’m was like, ‘Wow, I need to create a way for more people to live more intentionally and being able to do this.”
The chance connection with Adam Coulon, who ultimately would become WiGo Trips’ co-founder and CTO, was key in the technical construction of the platform, she added.
“[Coulon turned to programming because he] saw the opportunities to create the future that he wanted to live in,” she added. “So when we had connected he was like, ‘Wow, this is aligned with all my goals. Yes, I want to do this.’ We had met… and on the airplane over, he started coding out our [platform]. It was phenomenal and ever since it’s been a really great relationship.”
McCarthy pinned the long wait between conception and launch to an early investor pulling out of the venture, she added, noting that if the investor had stayed, she would not have become as immersed into the startup world as she had.
“[Losing an investor] was such a devastating experience at the time, but it happened the way it should’ve happened,” said McCarthy. “Everything would’ve changed. I wouldn’t have found my co-founder and [WiGo] would’ve been a completely different company. I can’t be more thankful that things aligned the way that they did.”