Kern (’09) Prepping for Website Launch, Looking for Beta Testers
A recent graduate of the Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship (WCE) at the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business is taking the concept of online personalization to another level.
Tim Kern (’09) is the co-founder of Wawadoo — a company name that scrunches together the phrase, “What do you want to do?” The idea is to help people find things to do on a site that allows them to rate events and suggests events based on their interests.
“Houston is so big. You have to drive everywhere and you don’t see all the new venues or find out about events,” Kern said.
Kern and his co-founder Chris Allen, a friend from high school, recently moved to Pittsburgh for the financial and professional support offered by a business incubator called AlphaLab. The state-supported facility will provide space, cash and advice for five months in exchange for a small stake in their company and a promise they will maintain some operations there.
Kern is also using what he learned as a student in WCE to get Wawadoo off the ground.
“One of the strong points of going through the entrepreneurship program at UH Bauer was the public speaking I did,” Kern said. The initial idea pitch for Wawadoo was backed by an understanding of what numbers he needed to back up their plan, which is also something he learned while in the program.
“We had a presentation that included who we are targeting in our user base, the size of our customer base and how we’ll be making money on it,” Kern said.
The business partners are currently looking for 500 people in Houston or Pittsburgh to beta-test the site before it officially launches.
By then, they plan to offer a deep mix of offerings, including offbeat possibilities like maybe a Doga class – that’s yoga with your dog – a poetry slam, or just a neighborhood bar with great drink specials.
What makes it different from other places offering event listings is it will be organized based on the input of users, who are asked to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to what’s offered. Over time the input should allow the site to offer better recommendations.
The goal is to offer each user a list of possibilities tailored to their taste and interests. Wawadoo isn’t targeting any particular demographic, Kern said. The more diverse the interests the greater the range of people who will find something they would like to do.
The plan is to generate revenue from event backers looking to buy favored positions — like those paid spots displayed next to the Google search results.
While leisure-oriented businesses are an obvious target, Kern said, the site could just as well serve as a spot for seeking out business networking events or job fairs.
“We are working on the site seven days a week,” Kern said. “Really, it’s our passion.”
For more information about becoming a beta test for the site, click here.
By Stephen Rassenfoss