By Elizabeth Haas, Contributing Writer
WiGo, a new social networking app, launched this past August allowing students at the University of New Hampshire and other United States universities to learn who is going out and where they are going.
WiGo, pronounced “wee-go,” stands for “Who is going out?” That was the question founder and CEO Ben Kaplan kept hearing from fellow students as a sophomore at Holy Cross.
The app first launched last January exclusively at Holy Cross. Three weeks later, half of the student body was using it. Kaplan said friends at other universities liked the idea as well, because “otherwise it’s just crazy text messaging.”
After former CTO of Kayak.com Paul English offered to support WiGo as part of his new consumer start-up company Blade, Kaplan left school and made plans to launch the app for all U.S. universities.
NHL player and UNH Hockey alumnus James van Riemsdyk has invested in WiGo, and Kaplan said he has the “guys in the NHL tweeting” about it.
The app allows students to see “where” parties and events at their school are happening, “who is going out” and who is “not going out yet” by clicking on the “who” and “where” tabs. Students can create events and invite their friends to their own gatherings or “tap” people they would like to see going to other events. Students can only see events for and who is going out at their university.
The app resets itself every morning, clearing everything from the previous night. According to the app’s website, “Every day on WiGo is a new day.”
The app is exclusively for college students, requiring a .edu email address and an active Facebook for setup. Accounts can also be put on private, meaning that, like Facebook, users have to accept friends wishing to follow them.
Students can also block and report individuals who are not students or are abusive. WiGo will investigate all reports and permanently remove suspect individuals from the system.
Kaplan calls the app “the next Facebook for college kids.” Contrary to many social media websites that lose intimacy when they gain too many users, Kaplan says the app is “more fun with more friends.”
Senior Alicia Dufield agreed. “The more people that are on it, the more worthwhile it is,” she said.
UNH was one of the first campuses to “unlock.” Once 100 students at a university have downloaded the app, the university is unlocked, and students can begin posting events. There are currently over 600 UNH students on WiGo.
Usage across the country has steadily increased since August with over 800 schools unlocked in most of the 50 states.
Some universities have over 45 percent of their student bodies represented. Kaplan expects numbers to rise further after he appears on “Good Morning America” this week.
Kaplan said the app is meant to encourage students to “get together in person and do fun stuff.”
He does not want the app to promote drinking directly and encourages students to use it to form study groups and promote events on campus.
Senior Megan Ross wishes WiGo did not require an active Facebook page. “It’s the part of Facebook I miss,” she said, having closed her account. She misses being invited to events on Facebook instead of having to receive separate text messages when her friends are meeting up. However, she said if she had Facebook again she would not need WiGo, as it serves the same purpose.
Freshman Annavitte Rand thinks some students would use the app but does not think everyone will be inclined to say they are going to events.
“It’s putting what you’re doing out there,” she said. “Students may not say they are going to an event if they don’t want certain people to know.”