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Interview Series: Will Ko from Ping Social
We are the most socially connected generation yet. With social media making it easier for us to connect to different social circles, when it comes to handling matters in our personal circle we rely on outdated methods to plan events together. While the functionality of Facebook Events has made planning easier, large scale events can be difficult to coordinate with just your friends. One of our own team members had a chance to sit down and talk to Will Ko from Ping Social about how his new social application looks to solve all of your planning problems.
Jackrabbit Mobile: You want to start us off by telling us about Ping Social?
Will Ko: So Ping is a local network centered around personal social events and it’s available on iOS and Android. And it’s really for the millennial generation so we can get together more easily and not have to deal with group texts or super formal Facebook events.
JR: How did you guys come up with that idea and how did you get started?
WK: So we really just wanted to solve a problem that we had ourselves, which was getting together with friends and it was way messy and we were tired of dinner plans done through group texts. And so we wanted a way to get our friends together with all of the details of the event and making it easy to invite other people. And that’s sort of how we started Ping, or the idea of Ping, is that we started with a problem.
JR: I think that’s the best way to start products is by solving a problem that you have, that you want to solve for yourself and then being able to share that with everyone. Do you guys use it a lot for like team planning and team events and for everything you guys do?
WK: So we actually don’t, it’s more of a casual environment and so it’s more for like the typical use cases like movie night at my place or let’s go play soccer or get coffee, or something weird is happening here come check it out.
JR: Tell me little about what your position is with the company and I’m sure as a founder you get to wear a lot of different hats so what’s your favorite thing to work on?
WK: I am cofounder and CEO, however, at the beginning, my cofounder and I were both the iOS developers and built the initial version of Ping Social. I also do some of the project management for the iOS, Android and web. We also have been applying lean and agile development processes to market it as well. We do sprints with marketing. And so of all the different hats, I think project management is probably my favorite one to wear, just because I’m very detail oriented and I like organizing things and we use Trello. Which is a very light-duty project management tool and I actually learned a lot from you guys, having Grayson walk me through how each sprint planning goes and how to groom through the backlog and those sort of things.
JR: Thinking about the future of Ping Social, what are some of the things you are most excited for coming up?
WK: So the whole idea of a local network is there’s really three main elements: the first one being you, the second one being your friends, and the third and final element is the city you live in. In addition to being able to see what your friends are doing and also inviting your friends to do things, you’ll be able to see city events. And so we are releasing a new feature called Discover and it’s an aggregator of local city events. We are talking about Blues on the Green and Pint House Beer releases.
JR: One thing that I’ve noted that’s been successful with you guys is your campus ambassador program; tell me a little about that.
WK: So Wes Cole is our marketing director and he set up the program and we currently have about 90 plus investors and have 20-25 different universities involved. And I think it’s important that we sort of made the application a little more in-depth, a little longer, just so that we can really find the users who are really passionate about Ping and that way all of the materials that we send them are being put to good use.
JR: Good to hear that you guys have been so successful and excited to see the future of Ping. Anything else you want to share with people?
WK: I think and this has been said time and time again, but find out what you are passionate about, that’s the only way you’ll have the perseverance. It’s kind of circular, like the only way you’ll really find out if you are passionate about it is to go do it. The only way to start a company or start a product is to just start. You’ll never be 100 percent ready.
JR: What’s a good way for people to find out more about Ping and to contact you?
WK: Best way is to check us out in the app store on both iOS and Android and the best way to contact me is just will at ping dot social dot com (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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