Wiggio Offers Free Groupware for Harried College Students

9/11/08Follow @wroush

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about three steps. To set up a poll of group members, for example, users just have to name the poll, pick which group members should receive it, and write the questions.

“There are a lot of students who highly dislike doing student projects because it’s difficult to get hold of everyone and collaborate,” says Polivy. “The idea of one-stop shopping to solve their group needs is something students get excited about. We’ll call up students and say this is the kind of project we’re working on, and they’ll say, ‘What’s the URL? When can I go there?’”

Wiggio currently operates from the Cambridge studio/laboratory of Bob Doyle, a programming polymath and well-known Boston tech veteran who is the startup’s first angel investor. Doyle, currently the CEO of an open-source enterprise management software provider called skyBuilders.com, is a PhD astrophysicist who worked on the Skylab project for NASA and is probably most famous for co-inventing Merlin, a handheld electronic game released by Parker Brothers in 1978, and for developing MacPublisher, the first desktop publishing program, in 1984.

The Wiggio TeamLampert and Polivy connected with Doyle through Lampert’s father, Marc Lampert, owner of Pharmaceutics, a medical-supplies distributor in West Roxbury, MA, where Rob Doyle had done programming work. “My dad suggested I get in touch with Rob, who said it seemed really exciting and who wanted to be a partner,” says Lampert. “He then got his brother Derek as the second programmer. And their father is Bob Doyle,” who decided to invest.

The space in Doyle’s studio came as part of the equity agreement. And while it meant that Polivy and Lampert had to leave Ithaca, it gives Wiggio access to all of Boston’s campuses—and to the senior Doyle, whom Polivy calls “one of the smartest people I’ve ever been able to work with. One of my friends said, ‘I bet working in Bob’s office is a lot like going to grad school,’ and he’s right.”

That will have to do for now, since neither Polivy nor Lampert have any plans to pursue business school or other graduate studies—at least not until after Wiggio is well on its way to success. But that might happen quickly, if the site’s tools spread as virally as other campus-based technology phenomena such as Facebook. “The coolest part of this is that we’re building something that we know we needed ourselves as college students,” says Lampert. “And we know that our friends at Cornell still need it. And from reaching out to peers at other schools, we know they need it too.”

Wade Roush is Xconomy's chief correspondent and editor of Xconomy San Francisco. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com. Follow @wroush

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