Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Indiana Gregg, and I’m the CEO and founder of Wedo. Wedo is a mobile and web-based social video application that helps people transact and earn online. Wedo lets businesses build their audience, go live in what we call “alleys,” and sell their goods and services with live-streaming payments. We issue debit cards and accounts in multiple currencies, allowing users to send invoices and stay organized and in touch with clients and potential customers from anywhere. Wedo’s mission is to “help more people help more people,” and we believe that by doing so, we’ll leave the world in better shape than we found it.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I’ve been in tech for 25 years and have launched global applications and worked in both the fintech and the creative industries wearing a lot of hats. However, most recently, I’ve worked as a freelance designer and web developer for fintech applications and it was during this time that I noticed a real problem. There was a need for technology to support the future of work, particularly freelancers, remote teams, and the companies that hire them.
By 2027, 52% of the workforce will be freelance and part of the gig economy. The current methods of finding work are painful, with bigger aggregator freelance sites taking 20-50% of what a freelancer earns in a pay-to-play scenario. I knew there had to be a way to change this because ultimately this system will become unsustainable for such a huge portion of the global economy. At the same time, we’ve all experienced the challenges brought on by the Great Recession and the pandemic, and the number of homeless and bankrupt people has risen globally as a result. The disparity gap has widened immensely, and the world needs a tool that can put people with knowledge and skills back on the earning ladder.
I thought there must be a way to get rid of the crippling paywall, integrate social networking and communications system, and build a bank challenger that delivers real value for people. That was the dream, and the pandemic certainly escalated the need for a tool like Wedo. It’s impossible for me to “unsee” a problem once I see it, and when I found out that an extraordinarily talented friend of mine had been struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic, that knowledge inspired me to take immediate action and the whole system fell into place, which culminated in Wedo.
Describe the process of launching the business.
In February 2020, I began iterating on a prototype of Wedo to show people and start to gather together the team. I asked a couple of designers to get involved and then Dan Coyle, our COO, came on board. Around May of that year, I showed my first functional prototype to David Jaques, the founding CFO of Paypal, and he instantly said, “I’m in.” We pulled the rest of the team together, and an old friend of mine, Kirsten Granzow, joined as CMO and we were able to nab an epic developer, Anand Singh, as CTO, and together we bootstrapped the project for about 9 months to formalize an early version of Wedo.
We spent a lot of time putting together our global banking partnerships to ensure we could launch in the UK, EU and the United States. Launching a fintech product is often a very time-consuming process due to the regulatory playground. Once we had secured the deals, we went out to the market and raised capital, which isn’t so easy for a female founder to do. Being a female founder is a bit like standing in a casino in front of a slot machine. Every meeting you pull down the one-armed bandit and hope that you get a match. Psychologically, you have to be prepared to get a lot of no’s before you get a yes. It’s a persistence and numbers game, and sometimes it’s the meetings you consider skipping that end up paying off.
We’ve raised a total of $3M this year and we have the best investors we could ever imagine rooting for us and helping us to create new opportunities. There are some offers I’ve turned down along the way because raising capital is a two-way street and we are looking for investors who are smart, who understand the mission and the vision, and who are excited about what we aim to achieve.
There isn’t a true method to launching a successful business other than working to create a product that people will love that solves a problem, and the hardest part is ensuring that the product is seen and used by the people who will most benefit from it. It requires being creative with resources and being as efficient as possible to get the job done. It’s about breathing life into an idea and taking action and decisions that drive the business forward. But mostly, it’s about understanding the customer, understanding their needs, and paying attention to their pain points to build something they will hopefully love and tell others about.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
At the moment, we are invite-only and are letting more people into the app each week. We’ve found that having human conversations on other social networks has attracted a lot of attention, but in terms of attracting customers, the devil is in the data and the values of the people we introduce the app to. Joining beta with a startup is exciting and building a community around people to truly listen to their pain points and understanding the purpose the application needs to serve is vital to retention. I tell everybody on the team that Wedo doesn’t pay their salary, the customers do.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We’re still in the early days, and we’ve just raised the first tranche of our seed round. We’re going full steam ahead and it’s pretty much non-stop momentum for the whole team. I think we’ve been pretty lucky in that our team has been hand-picked and their skill sets are complimentary. In my opinion, they are the best team on the planet. We collectively believe in a future where people can work from anywhere, at any time. We believe that Wedo can help create that future, help businesses manage distributed and remote teams, and help those in the gig economy earn a proper wage. We believe that the future of work is no longer based on an 8-hour day or a 40-hour work week, but rather work is part of our lives and we should be able to choose when, how long and where we want to work with greater efficiency and a better overall life balance.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
This is my fifth time founding a startup and every startup is different. I think the main thing I’ve learned is that people perform their best when they love what they do and allowing that kind of exploration within a team is magical. I’ve also learned that people perform better when they have autonomy and aren’t being “managed,” but are being led. That’s a big difference and at Wedo, we look for people who fit our company culture. Skills can be taught, attitude and self-awareness less so. We look for the best people with the best attitudes who take pride in their work and love what they do. I also believe that anyone who works for Wedo should have some skin in the game. We are building this company together and that’s what it’s all about.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Wedo, of course. Google, AWS, Miro, Jira and Github.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Probably too many to name, but a few that I especially love are Inspired (How to Create Tech Products Customers Love) by Mary Cagan. It’s one I return to again and again that is well-worn, tried and tested, and it probably even smells like me by now. There are some books I have in triplicate, like a few of Seth Godin’s on marketing. I also recently read The Fearless Organization by Amy Edmondson, which is great. Jobs to Be Done by Jim Kalbach is a great book for anyone in early-stage development, and Humanocracy by Hamel & Zanini is a brilliant book as well. I have all of Reid Hoffman’s books and Ben Horowitz’s books too. I love reading print books and I tend to read several books at a time on all sorts of business and creative subjects. It’s a guilty pleasure to take my eyes off of a screen, go somewhere cozy and take in content in an analog format that helps me wind down and get some headspace, and I try to buy them used to minimize my carbon footprint.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Starting out doesn’t require knowing everything. You know you need some stuff in your mental suitcase, like your ideas, your strategy to get through the first part of the journey, and a road map to get you to the first station. It may sound cliche, but the most important thing about starting out is to get started. You don’t get anywhere if you don’t take the first step, then the next one, and then the next. Formulate your plan and take time to think things through. Don’t be too tough on yourself, and just get going!
Where can we go to learn more?