MN Cup is featuring select 2016 applicants who entered our social media contest. We asked each participating entrepreneur about their business and the inspiration behind their idea. Stay tuned for the announcement of those who advance onto the semifinalist round of the competition on June 6th. See the full MN Cup schedule here.
1. Tell us about your company - who you are, what you do.
Vugo is the passenger entertainment experience of the future. We help advertisers reach high-quality audiences en route to making purchasing decisions. We entertain passengers when they are no longer preoccupied with driving, and we help drivers of Uber/Lyft, Taxis, and more earn more money for work they are already doing.
We are a team of four Minnesotans; James Bellefeuille, Robert Flessner, Eugene Kurdzesau, and Michael Dillon. We believe in an automated world; a place where personal auto ownership will be replaced by mobility as a service solutions - fleets of autonomous cars only, when you need them. Why would anyone own a car when you can get affordable transportation on-demand. We spend a lot of time thinking about what people will do in cars when they are no longer preoccupied with driving. We believe that they will write text messages, work on computers, read, sleep - but these are things that people already do in cars, as passengers at today. What we think will change is that since automation will guarantee transportation, we believe the primary way people will interact with a car will be via the entertainment system as the car becomes a mobile entertainment room.
Vugo is the leader in mobility entertainment, media, and advertising - it is our focus to become the "Google Adwords of the automobile". Using our TripIntent technology, we will select the most relevant and contextual advertisements for passengers in addition to giving them access to premium entertainment options. How does a Game of Thrones marathon while driving to Duluth sound?
2. What inspired your idea or startup?
James Bellefeuille was working at an advertising agency in Chicago while moonlighting as an Uber driver. He realized that his ad clients would love to get in front his passengers at the right time, right place, with the right message. That is where the concept of Vugo's TripIntent technology came from, the software that selects the most relevant media for passengers by interpreting their live trip signals. James then called his co-founders, and together they began development of a prototype over the holidays in 2014. Now, what inspires the vision is changing how people interact with cars, and becoming the face of in-car entertainment for ridesharing and autonomous automobiles.
3. What excites you most about MN Cup?
Vugo is a company that hit its stride during the MN Cup in 2015. Prior to applying to the Minnesota Cup, we had an MVP and some press. After going through the Minnesota Cup process, we completed our business plan, raised capital, and count major advertisers as clients. However, we were disappointed that we didn't win the Minnesota Cup last year.
Vugo has a team filled with guys with the Midwest work ethic. After the Minnesota Cup last year we buckled down and continued to grow our business in hopes of returning in 2016 winning the Minnesota Cup and taking our business to the next level. We shot for the moon and have landed in the stars. We now have an office in Los Angeles, and count billion dollar brands as our clients with a vision to build a billion dollar company by helping fleets and drivers worldwide monetize their passengers via a mobile app.
The thing that excites us most about the Minnesota Cup is the large number of founders who are going to have the same experience that we did. How many top tier Minnesota companies can come out of this event and boost the Minnesota startup ecosystem? A stronger Minnesota Startup Eco-system should be the goal of every founder, investor, and organization involved in the Minnesota Cup, and that’s what excites the Vugonauts!
Learn more about Vugo at http://www.govugo.com/