Calum Leslie (aged 24) is the founder of Wooju, the app that lets you crowdsource a second opinion in seconds. Unsure about that new shirt you just bought? Hesitating between the beef or the chicken? Simply snap a picture and send it to your friends or the Wooju community for a quick yes or no answer.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?I decided to study Law at the University of Edinburgh before founding a startup and during my third year I went to study in the US where I took a class at the University of Texas Law School called Law, Business and Innovation. I became so inspired by the entrepreneurship and tech scene out in Austin that I got involved in a P2P Sports startup giving him some valued experience. After returning to the UK, I decided to found a tech startup that built apps for clients in order to learn how to run a “real” business whilst still having one final year of university. I gained more experience in running a tech company, employing people and how cash flow worked. After successfully running the company for 18 months, I decided it was time to start building Wooju. I built up Team Wooju, raised funds and the application was launched in 2014.
What is Wooju and how does it work?Wooju is an app that allows users to instantly crowd source second opinions on anything. Simply snap a picture of during an indecisive moment, ask a yes / no question, and select friends before hitting send to get a second opinion – on anything! Your question will be sent to all users who answer and you get back an easy to use poll showing how many people said yes and how many people said no so that you can go on and make a decision. If you are not satisfied with your friends opinions then you can ask our Wooju community and get a completely anonymous opinion. With Wooju, instant, actionable results are just a snap away.
How did you come up with the idea for Wooju?The idea was the result of a Sorority "hot or not" experiment. When I went study in the US during my 3rd year of University, upon arrival I opted to do the typical American thing and joined a fraternity. One evening at a party talking a Sorority girl I was talking to stopped me mid sentence to pull out her phone to take a picture of me in order to "to find out whether or not my friends think you are hot". I was slightly taken a back, but it make me think about all the different types of questions that people like to ask. From "Should I buy this?" to "Is this inappropriate for work?" to even "Is this guy hot or not?", people love to ask questions, but there was no way to get an easy outcome. So I decided to solve this issue.
Can you explain the name to us?Wooju is a “cool”, unique spelling of Would you? We wanted to name the app something that our users would instantly recognize and seeing as the question would you is a commonly asked question, we thought this name was rather fitting. Although, we did take a little bit of a risk on the spelling…as we often have to literally spell out our “cool” name!
What motivated you to start your own business?My father handed me Richard Branson’s book “Screw It Let’s Do It” when I was in high school and ever since I have been obsessed with entrepreneurship. I studied law at University but always saw it as a subject that was worth studying as it would give me an edge in meetings. This is absolutely the case as I use my legal knowledge base on a day-to-day basis. When I studied abroad in the US I met Adam Dell, who is a professor and takes a few classes at UT law as his way of “giving back”. I became insanely inspired by the people he talked about and eventually met including Michael Dell and Lee Walker. These guys made me ever more motivated and I quickly learnt that tech was the right industry for me. From that point on, there was not choice to be made. I had tried a few startups prior to my time at UT but now knew that Wooju was the big one and that I would have to work relentlessly to make it a success. I am still working.
How are you funded?We raised our initial seed round from an Angel Group in Scotland. We recently launched a new round and are aiming to close by the end of Summer.
How long did it take you to build this project?We started wire-framing Wooju in early 2014 and launched on the 2nd April after a short Beta period. We have been building our Android app for the past 4 months and aim to launch next week. So build time was around 4 month for each project.
What has been the biggest challenge in building your start-up?Finding the right people to work with. We are based in Glasgow and Glasgow is not exactly a tech hub. However, there are a few incredible developers. We spent a while looking for the right team, running trials with different team members and testing the waters to see whether or not someone was a good fit for the company. I now believe that we have an incredible team, the team that will be there until the end and I am glad that we finally managed to nail it!
Given your extensive background in launching your own businesses, what advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who wish to do the same?There are 3 pieces of advice I would give young entrepreneurs:
- If you have an idea and you like the startup world then go for it. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it. As long as you are prepared to encounter sleepless nights, work a lot harder than your friends and put your life on hold to make your company as success, then there is no reason you should not give your idea a go. Just remember, entrepreneurs work 80 hours a week so they don’t have to work 40 – if you subscribe to this theory then you’re good to go!
- Be selective when taking advice from others – everyone you speak to knows how to run your company…or so they claim. Taking advice from the right people can be crucial in succeeding, but taking advice from the wrong people can be crippling and often results in you making a few bad decisions that kill the company. Pick who to take advice from and ignore everyone else.
- Equity is king – you only get 100%. You cannot get any more. So be selective in who gets equity. Make sure to take the right investment, with the right terms. Don’t take part in “expensive” accelerators – no matter how great them may appear. And, just because your friend offered you that one piece of advice that one time, it doesn’t make them a founder meriting an equity stake.