WeHUB Messenger , a startup messaging app founded by 2014 Wharton MBA alumnus Hagen Lee , aims to give users greater control over their conversations.
Eleven of the app’s main features are pending patent approval. Lee said that the app is intended to give users the ability to “express emotion in its purest form.” It officially launched in mid-October, and WeHUB hosted a Penn scavenger hunt with clues given through the app from Oct. 23 to Nov. 4.
After Penn, Lee knew that he wanted to develop a messaging-based mobile platform. After interviewing more than 500 people in both Korea and the United States, he learned that people were using five or six different messaging apps to serve different functions. With WeHUB, he wanted to provide a new user experience that makes good on the slogan of “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”
The Penn connection is incredibly important to Lee and WeHUB, and the app even includes Benjamin Franklin emoticons. “You saw the Benjamin Franklin emoticons,” WeHUB Vice President Robbie Stone said. “That’s why we’re here at UPenn, to build it at Penn and make it a Penn product.” Like Snapchat to Stanford and Facebook to Harvard, Lee and Stone hope that WeHUB will have home-field support from Penn.
Lee suggested that sororities, fraternities, cohorts at Wharton and sports team in particular could benefit from the features’ capabilities, which range from group messaging to drawing. The “Recall” feature allows users to delete a message from both their phone and the recipient’s phone. Like Snapchat, “Poof” sends a message that self-destructs in 10 seconds, while “DaVinci” encrypts messages by revealing the actual message for 10 seconds and then scrambling the text. Users can host mega-chats with up to 300 people, and the “Whisper” function allows a user to privately message people within the larger chat. WeHUB could effectively replace WhatsApp and GroupMe for its users, Lee said.
Not all features are available immediately — the app is free, but the system is gamified so new features are unlocked as users reach higher levels. “We hope it adds to the viralness of the app because in order to unlock the next level, you have to add friends,” Lee explained. With more than 20,000 users already, the app has an unlocked feature that requires 1,000 friends. Lee calls it the “Batman” feature, and only he and his company’s chief technology officer know what it is.
In the next 12 months, Lee and Stone would like to see WeHUB reach a million users.
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