Categorized | Shoestring Startup

Wa.ag – The Opportunity Engine – Facilitating Networking That Doesn’t Suck!

Name of your company?

Wa.ag – The Opportunity Engine

http://www.wa.ag

 

Date started?

November 2010

What is your product or service?

Wa.ag facilitates incentivized “flash networking” networking events in bars, clubs, restaurants and other venues during their slow days/times. Wa.ag was developed to address the shortcomings of traditional networking, while bridging the gap between online/offline social networking. In addition, wa.ag is a great way for brands, small and large, to drive traffic to their website and/or into their physical location(s) without the stigma of a fire-sale.

Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin have done wonders for developing online relationships but those so rarely turn into real business opportunities. Wa.ag, an acronym for Work as a Group, encourages people to get out from behind their desks and network in person…ultimately creating meaningful connections for themselves and others.

Why did you start your company?

As one of the founders of the first Jelly’s on Long Island, New York (Jelly’s are casual working events where entrepreneurs and small business people work alongside other creative people in a welcoming environment), I was amazed at the magic and meaningful connections that were created when like and unlike business people mingled together. It made me question why these “non-structured” networking opportunities did not happen more frequently.

In the course of my business life I have attended a lot of networking events. While some were certainly better than others, it just seemed like the general intention of them, that being to create opportunities for myself or others, was getting clouded over by the hosts of the event TRYING to “create value”. They almost always felt forced, ineffective, stuffy and I just knew there had to be a better way.

In addition, while I’ve met an awful lot of folks via social media, very few have turned into meaningful connections.

Waag was conceived to address the shortcomings of traditional networking, while bridging the gap between online/offline social networking. We will continue to refine the wa.ag platform to ensure that attendees stand the best chance of making meaningful connections…ultimately supporting our overarching mission: To facilitate Networking That Doesn’t Suck!

How was it financed?

We are self funded so far. We have plans to raise an angel round when we are finished testing and ready to scale.

What is the best advice you never got?

The up’s and down’s experienced by most entrepreneurs can rival some of the scariest roller coasters ever built. Some days it will feel like nothing is going right and some days will feel like just the opposite.

Probably the best advice I never got was the importance for entrepreneurs to surround themselves with other entrepreneurs riding the same emotional rollercoaster. The knowledge and experience that can be garnered from these associations can help prevent a ton of mistakes, offer fresh perspectives and new ideas, and also provide the confidence to keep moving forward even when things seem the most challenging.

Many entrepreneurs build their offering in a vacuum. This isolation often results in a product or service that is devoid of a real value proposition or viable business model associated. Associating with other entrepreneurs can help identify these major shortcomings before a lot of money is spent or the entrepreneur gives up.

Wa.ag (an acronym for Work as A Group) seeks to put an end to this isolation.

What is the one thing that you did right?

One of the biggest mistakes made by many entrepreneurs (including myself) is that they lose focus on the core utility by trying to be everything to everybody within their industry. One this particular venture we have made it a point to step back regularly and ask ourselves if new features/ideas that are introduced support our overarching mission of facilitating networking that doesn’t suck.

In the past we would have jumped on many of these tangential ideas out of fear that we might miss out on a potential opportunity.

In addition, by clearly defining our mission we have had a much easier time disseminating our value proposition and attracting brand advocates.

What was the biggest transition you had to make (i.e. new skill set, habits, abilities, focus)?

To prevent some of the mistakes that we’ve made in the past we decided to work with a business consultant that has specific expertise in nurturing start-up internet companies. As someone that has worked for himself for over 18 years, it was (and still is) tough taking direction from an outside party (especially one that is almost a decade younger).

Giving up the reigns and trusting an outsider has been a difficult but worthwhile transition thus far.

What would make your business more “Successful”?

The answer to this is simple. Feedback, feedback, feedback!

We are committed to addressing as many of the shortcomings of traditional networking as possible. The word shortcomings as it pertains to networking will mean different things to different people. The more feedback we get, the more direction we will have towards building something that revolutionizes how business networking gets done.

 

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