Heyo Featured in Virginia Business

From Mentorship program helps new company find its niche, Virginia Business, 12/29/10, by Zak Kozuchowski.

Two young entrepreneurs signed up for a Blacksburg mentorship program in June. By November, they had developed a social planning application that now is being used in mobile devices.

The application, called Heyo, was created by Frederick Cook and Rishi Ishairzay. Heyo lets users plan social events by sharing with friends where they intend to be in coming days. Information about the location of friends is shown on a constantly updated list. “There’s no way we would be where we are today with our company without the [mentorship] program,” Cook says.

Cook and Ishairzay were the first to be accepted to DayOne Ventures, a highly selective, three-month summer mentorship program for technology-based startups. The program provided the entrepreneurs with $12,000 of seed funding and furnished office space in Blacksburg with high-speed Internet. It also supplied them infrastructure, brand development, financial planning and legal assistance, all free. Rackspace Hosting, VT KnowledgeWorks, LeClairRyan and GenTek Ventures supplied the services. In exchange for the package of cash, office services and mentoring, DayOne receives a 4 to 6 percent equity stake in the emerging business.

“The DayOne program is designed to help companies go through the beginning process much faster than if they were on their own,” says Bill Boebel, vice president of strategy at Rackspace and mentor at DayOne Ventures. “We were looking for passionate, smart entrepreneurs who had a reasonably good idea.”

Boebel, who was lead mentor for Cook and Ishairzay, started a private e-mail hosting firm called Webmail.us in 1999. He was forced to change his business model two times before finding success and selling his company to Rackspace in 2007. “I wish something like [DayOne] existed when I was starting my business,” Boebel says. “It would have saved us a lot of time.”

Cook and Ishairzay initially pitched a health and fitness social network, an idea that Boebel thought had potential.  “Even though the fitness base is a niche market, [consumers] spend a lot of money on product gear,” he says. “But nothing seemed like the big idea to bet it all on.”

Boebel encouraged Cook and Ishairzay to strive for a concept that could be used by a larger group of people. He wanted them to think the idea through, looking at what already existed in the social network space and seeing what had been successful and what had failed.

In July, Boebel helped Cook and Ishairzay switch to developing Heyo, which is now available free for the iPhone and Android mobile devices.“For location-based app platforms, the eco system is very young,” Cook said. “Right now we’re building something that people want to use, and keeping an eye on location-based advertisement space. We hope to roll into those services as they mature.”

Cook said creating the application was the most fun and the most engaging experience he’d ever had. He and Ishairzay worked 14-hour days seven days a week, time spent mostly writing code for their product. The seed funding ensured that they did not have to work other jobs and could focus solely on their startup.

Cook, who received a master’s degree in engineering mechanics from Virginia Tech in 2009, says the workload was not much different than being a graduate student. “You have expectations, but no one is telling you what to do,” Cook says. “Having a company, working for ourselves and doing something that no one else is doing is much better than anything I’ve ever done in academia.”

The program formally ended for Cook and Ishairzay on Aug. 15, but the mentoring has not stopped. They will have access to their DayOne office until next summer, when the mentorship program will fill the space with a new company. Cook and Ishairzay have decided to base their company in Blacksburg as they pitch the business to potential investors. They are currently looking for engineers to help grow their product.

Boebel, who will stay with the company as an adviser, says that Cook and Ishairzay likely would have reached this point even without DayOne. “It just would have taken them much longer,” he says.

via www.virginiabusiness.com

Heyo and DayOne Ventures are housed at VT KnowledgeWorks.  On November 2, 2010, Heyo, Inc. announced the release of its new social planning mobile application. Heyo was founded by Frederick Cook and Rishi Ishairzay with seed funding from DayOne Ventures.  You're invited to read more about Heyo on Inside VT KnowledgeWorks.

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VT KnowledgeWorks is a unique growth enhancement program open to entrepreneurs in the New River Valley and beyond.  Acceleration center and incubation facilities are located in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg, Virginia.  Programs for Members are divided into two categories according to the evolutionary status of the member company.  Pre-Launch program components are carefully constructed to help market-worthy ventures organize, formulate strategy, obtain outside investment, and launch in an efficient manner.  Enterprise class members benefit from emphasis on strategic support for ongoing growth, continuing intra-preneurship, and professional development for the corporate leader.

VT KnowledgeWorks sponsors include Attaain, Inc., BB&T, Handshake 2.0, Harris Office Furniture, Hodges, Jones & Mabry, P.C., Hutchison Law GroupLeClairRyan, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and The Becher Agency (TBA).

Heyo and DayOne Ventures Featured in Blue Ridge Business Journal

Following is an excerpt from an article by Annie Johnson for the Blue Ridge Business Journal on Heyo, Inc. and DayOne Ventures.  Heyo and DayOne Ventures are housed at VT KnowledgeWorks.  On November 2, 2010, Heyo, Inc. announced the release of its new social planning mobile application. Heyo was founded by Frederick Cook and Rishi Ishairzay with seed funding from DayOne Ventures.

In just three months, Frederick Cook's business model changed twice.

But, according to his mentors, that was the point.

Cook, 25, and his 20-year-old business partner, Rishi Ishairzay, were the lone participants in the inaugural DayOne Ventures incubator program, which is aimed at providing business guidance and financial assistance to startup companies.

The goal of the three-month program is to help entrepreneurs "iterate their business faster and hopefully eliminate some of the mistakes they would make along the way," according to one of the group's mentors, Bill Boebel, founder of Blacksburg-based Webmail.us.

In collaboration with other founders, DayOne spent about $50,000 for the program and gave Cook and his company $15,000. That way, Boebel said, Cook could focus on his company without needing to work a second job.

What has emerged is Heyo, a social media application that allows users to tell friends where they will be hanging out.

The concept is much different from the fitness and nutrition application Cook began the summer with, and even more of a change from his original concept: a hyped-up, high-tech pedometer-type technology for rowers.

Cook said the most valuable part of the program was the advice and support he received from the investors, who will collectively have a 5 percent stake in Heyo, according to Boebel.

The Blacksburg incubator program is the first of its kind in the region. And while entrepreneurs such as Cook often look to join programs in Silicon Valley or elsewhere, Boebel hopes DayOne will help keep some of that talent in the area.

"If they want to go into an incubator program, we don't want them to have to go to NOVA or Raleigh or the West Coast. We want those companies to stay in Blacksburg," he said.

Boebel said the mentor group will try to bring three companies to the program next summer.

via www.bizjournal.com

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VT KnowledgeWorks is a unique growth enhancement program open to entrepreneurs in the New River Valley and beyond.  Acceleration center and incubation facilities are located in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg, Virginia.  Programs for Members are divided into two categories according to the evolutionary status of the member company.  Pre-Launch program components are carefully constructed to help market-worthy ventures organize, formulate strategy, obtain outside investment, and launch in an efficient manner.  Enterprise class members benefit from emphasis on strategic support for ongoing growth, continuing intra-preneurship, and professional development for the corporate leader.

VT KnowledgeWorks sponsors include Attaain, Inc., BB&T, Handshake 2.0, Harris Office Furniture, Hodges, Jones & Mabry, P.C., Hutchison Law GroupLeClairRyan, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and The Becher Agency (TBA).

Heyo Receives Seed Funding from DayOne Ventures

A version of this post originally appeared on Handshake 2.0. DayOne Ventures is housed at VT KnowledgeWorks and Rackspace is a VT KnowledgeWorks sponsor.

On November 2, 2010, Heyo, Inc. announced the release of its new social planning mobile application. Heyo was founded by Frederick Cook and Rishi Ishairzay with seed funding from DayOne Ventures.

Heyo, the social planning app.  What's in your future?

Start-up entrepreneurs and company founders the world over ask, "Who gets funded?"

Handshake 2.0 asked Bill Boebel, Vice President of Stategy at Rackspace Hosting and DayOne Ventures Mentor: "Why fund Heyo?"

Bill Boebel kindly replied:

We selected Fred and Rishi into the DayOne Ventures summer program because we believed in the two of them. Their initial product idea was questionable, but we saw that these two entrepreneurs were smart, had passion and were extremely willing to take our input.  During the summer, DayOne mentors and I worked with them weekly on topics like finance, marketing and product.  I primarily focused on their product.

Their journey from the start of the program in May to today has been pretty amazing.  They pivoted business models twice, once completely scrapping everything and starting from scratch, each time getting closer to something solid.  Without a mentoring program like DayOne, this typically would take entrepreneurs a year or two of trial and error. 

We founded DayOne Ventures to help entrepreneurs go through this cycle faster and end up with a business that is better positioned to succeed than if they did it entirely on their own.

***

VT KnowledgeWorks is a unique growth enhancement program open to entrepreneurs in the New River Valley and beyond.  Acceleration center and incubation facilities are located in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg, Virginia.  Programs for Members are divided into two categories according to the evolutionary status of the member company.  Pre-Launch program components are carefully constructed to help market-worthy ventures organize, formulate strategy, obtain outside investment, and launch in an efficient manner.  Enterprise class members benefit from emphasis on strategic support for ongoing growth, continuing intra-preneurship, and professional development for the corporate leader.

VT KnowledgeWorks sponsors include Attaain, Inc., BB&T, Handshake 2.0, Harris Office Furniture, Hodges, Jones & Mabry, P.C., Hutchison Law GroupLeClairRyan, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and The Becher Agency (TBA).

Announcing Heyo, a New Social Planning Mobile App

Heyo Inc. was founded with seed funding from DayOne Ventures.  DayOne Ventures is housed at VT KnowledgeWorks.

From Frederick Cook, Co-founder, Heyo Inc.:

Heyo, Inc. today announced the release of its new mobile application for download on the iPhone™ and Android™ that lets users create social plans while also sharing their future location information with friends.

Heyo, the social planning app.  What's in your future? Currently in the social media market, popular event sites provide tools for one person to invite many people to an event.  But these tools fall short when it comes to an individual or a small group informally deciding where to hang out for an evening.

 “With Heyo, the act of making plans is fun and collaborative. No formal invitations. Just a simple, constantly updated list on your phone that lets you know where your friends will be in the future,” says Frederick Cook, co-founder of Heyo, a new start-up based in Blacksburg, Virginia.

By making it simple to collaboratively formulate plans, Heyo (pronounced “hey-yo”) provides a window into the future of where your friends plan to be. Early product testing showed that seeing information on a friend’s whereabouts enriches the real-world experience of an event with more collaborative planning and more friends taking part. 

“The first thing I’m shown when I open the app is a list of where all my friends will be. It’s amazing that something so simple can be so powerful,” says Heyo user Brian Brando of Blacksburg.

A real-time status update is only meaningful the moment it is created. With Heyo, plans are always adjustable, and become more exciting and relevant over time. As an event nears, it receives more prominent placement on the Heyo display screen.  More people see it and can take part, including RSVPs to the event.  Heyo provides a rich social experience around your plans right up to the moment they take place.

“Heyo actually affects the decisions I make about what I’m going to do. It’s different than any other social media app I’ve ever used,” says Heyo user Harrison Brann of Blacksburg.

ABOUT HEYO

Heyo, Inc. was founded founded in May 2010 by Frederick Cook and Rishi Ishairzay with seed funding from DayOne Ventures.  The company participated in the DayOne Ventures) start-up mentorship program this summer.

Heyo is on Facebook and on Twitter @HeyoApp.  You're invited to read more about the release on the Heyo Blog.