While touring California I met with Calum Lesley a Scottish entrepreneur who is working on the next big app, Wooju, it’s neat service that lets you take photo and share it with friends to get their opinion. Think tinder but for choices in life! Calum has recently been accepted into Microsoft Ventures an accelerator program in London, I was keen to interview him before he becomes so famous that he won’t talk to me!
Starting a business is impressive how old are you & are you a stereotypical uni drop out?
I am 23 years old but I started Wujoo when I was 22 and I managed get through uni, I studied Law (LLB Hons) at the University of Edinburgh with a year abroad at the University of Texas!
What exactly is Wooju?
Wooju is an app that let’s you snap and solve indecisive moments by simply taking a picture, asking a yes or no question and sending to your friends to help make a decision. Your friends will receive your Wooju, vote yes or no and you get back an interactive poll showing the results allowing you to make a decision. It’s as simple as snap, ask, send and solved!
When did you first come up with the idea?
When I was studying on my year abroad in Austin. I arrived in the US and I decided to do the most typically American College thing I could think of… so I joined a Fraternity. One evening I was at a party, talking to this girl and everything was going well until in mid sentence she STOPPED, pulled out her phone, and took a picture of me! I was a little confused so I asked why she took the picture and she said she wanted to find out whether her friends thought I was hot or not. This was surprising, but needless to say I went straight back to the beer pong table and never thought much about it. That was the last I heard from here (I’m guessing they said no), but the next morning I woke up and started scribbling down some ideas for a new app. I got back from the US completely inspired by tutor Adam Dell and obsessed with the tech revolution happening in Austin. So, I assembled a team and we started building an app that could do much more that just aid in deciding whether someone is hot or now. We called that app Wooju.
How has the idea changed since inception?
The concept has remained the same but we have added a few features, changed up the UI and UX and have rebranded. A lot of the changes have been a result of the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator Programme. We were accepted into their Fall Cohort (from literally tens of thousands of applications) and Microsoft have been coaching us. There has been a huge emphasis on customer development and analytics which has led to the changes we’ve made. The programme has been insanely valuable to date and we have been assigned some great mentors including Paul Halliwell (Talk Talk, Carphone Warehouse and Trinity Mirror Group) and Troy Collins (Secret Escapes). There are still many more changes to come!
How did you decide on the name?
It just came to us in a brain storming session. People always say “Would you do this” or “Would you do that”…we just gave it a unique spelling trade marked it and stuck it on the top of the app!
Was it called anything before?
Nope – it’s always been Wooju! I guess we occasionally add the “App” but on the end…@woojuapp for Twitter.
How many people have downloaded the app?
We have had over 25,000 downloads to date in 65 countries across the world and reached number 6 in the UK Apple App Store. We still have a long way to go but our current user metrics are great with people sharing the app amongst their friendship groups. The next milestone is 100,000 users…we hope to hit this by the end of the year with the release of our Android and Window’s Phone Apps over the next few months.
25,000 users is impressive, how have you been marketing the app so far?
We haven’t spent a cent on promotion to date. All our traction has been viral and has come from either Twitter or users sharing the app with their friends on the platform. We got a little lucky and celebrities Jamie Laing, Oliver Proudlock and Calum Best picked up the app as it was trending and retweeted us. This helped with gaining traction and gave us the initial bump we needed. We are launching an insanely exciting, innovative campaign on 3rd December at MSV Demo Day. Stay tuned for this. It’s going to make global press!
Do you feel that wooju provides a social utility?
Our aim is to make the world a little less indecisive. Wooju is not a product that is going to solve world problems, it’s a simple, fun and interactive concept that people love to use in their daily lives. I have no doubt that someone will find a great social use for the app e.g. the founders of “Yo!” had no idea that their app would be used in Israel to warn citizens of missile attacks. I am sure there is a great social use for Wooju, it’s just not risen yet. So, for now, we are just going to focus on allowing our users to snap & solve indecisive moments!
What do you see the long term value of Wooju being?
The long-term value is in our public account. This account is meant for brands, business, celebrities and politicians so that they can effective connect with their audience and get a reply to a yes or no question quickly using a methods that shows them quantified results for example: a politician may ask his constituency if they would like the library to remain open for an extra hour at the weekend OR a brand may ask it’s users if purple is in this season. The possibilities are endless and the potential unlimited. Public users can sign up today by simply ticking the box upon sign up. We are happy to verify your account if you send us a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who else is working on the project with you?
We currently have a team of 6 working on Wooju – 4 developers (iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Backend), 1 designer and myself. The team is small but efficient. The hope is to scale rapidly in Q1 of 2015 after we secure Series A VC funding.
How do you currently pay for your lifestyle & how has the business been funded?
I live like a student. We have had £100,000 worth of Seed Funding raised from the Airlink Group. This has been a great start but there is never enough money when you’re part of a startup. I literally hustle on a day – day basis to try and get as much as we can e.g. Rackspace have agreed to pay $2,000 of our monthly server fees until the end of the year and Microsoft Azure will pay up to $5,000 next year. It’s been an interesting journey so far!!
If you have questions for Calum please get in contact with him through email@example.com.