Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Wigadoo.Com Success Story

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Planning outings with friends is always tricky, what with scheduling challenges and the politics of splitting costs. A new, UK-based site called Wigadoo, however, aims to make the logistical end easier so friends can get together more often.

Users of Wigadoo can begin the process by browsing the site's Find Ideas section for possible outings, with inspiration from examples, information on deals and promotions, and a directory of UK activities. "London theatre trip" and "Surfing in Wales" are among the examples provided on the site. With one or a few ideas in mind, they can then start a vote to see when their friends are free and what they want to do. To accomplish that, they first fill in a simple form with the questions to be voted on; Wigadoo then creates a vote page and emails a link to everyone involved. The page tracks everyone's responses, eliminating the hundreds of e-mails it would take otherwise. After the voting process—or instead, if there's already a set idea—users can propose a plan, including costs and the deadline for committing. Again, Wigadoo sets up a page and emails links to everyone invited, asking them to commit to attending and pledge with a debit or credit card. Wigadoo not only lets each invitee see who has pledged so far, it even has a feature called "I'm In If You're In," allowing them to secretly sign up to go if, and only if, a friend that they name does.

Once enough people have committed to coming—and only then—Wigadoo collects the pledged funds and puts them into an online event account. That account, in turn, comes with a Wigadoo Virtual Prepaid MasterCard that can be used to book or pay for everything for the group, either online or by phone. Organizing through Wigadoo is free for the organizer, but participants pay a small fee when they pledge: GBP 1.50 if they use a debit card or if the amount being collected is less than GBP 50, or—if they use credit to make a pledge over that amount—3 percent of the amount being collected.

Still in beta, Wigadoo is backed by a number of high-profile angel investors, it says, most of them internet entrepreneurs from the travel and leisure space. It currently serves just the UK, but plans to expand beyond that when its beta period ends. One to partner with or emulate in other parts of the world!

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