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Home Grown at FDU, WWHO Looks Toward The Future

By DUSTIN NILES

Layout & Design Editor

When FDU started Shark Tank in 2016, it seemed unlikely that great ideas would come immediately. But Akshay Patel, Press Iyamu and Nafijur Dalim came along with one. They, along with electrical engineering major Christopher Harlow, make up the WWHO team.

WWHO is currently a business idea, inspired by Airbnb and Uber, but for its users’ personal items. These items include things that might be needed for a short period of time, such as tools or cleaning equipment.

Users of the app can rent the items from other members of the local community without investing in buying one, so that those community members can make money off stuff that they own that they don’t use much.

Instead of ride sharing or apartment sharing, it’s “stuff sharing.” And the idea was revealed at FDU’s 2016 Shark Tank.

“Our presentation was top-notch,” Dalim said. “We engaged the audience. We talked to people.”

Patel, Iyamu and Dalim ended up winning FDU’s inaugural Shark Tank, receiving a $1,500 prize.

Some might just have stopped there. After all, it’s only an idea and it was the first year of the competition. But the WWHO team thought otherwise.

“We met with some advisors, mentors from the Madison campus,” Dalim said.

“We even got to meet with Jack Killion,” Iyamu said. “That was a big one. That was the first, I guess you could say, ‘big time’ name that we ever met with. This guy started the first country [music] magazine in the United States. He knows his stuff.”

From there, the WWHO team took their talents statewide, heading to an

N.J. business competition at Rutgers called UPitch.

“We gained some really great connections with people – people in Ivy League schools like Princeton,” Iyamu said.

WWHO’s success from FDU’s inaugural Shark Tank led to the group being asked to return as guest speakers for the 2017 event.

After UPitch, the team took a hiatus, but learned new skills like programming languages to create their website, bringing Harlow on for help.

“He’s [Harlow] a really intelligent man,” Dalim said. “He’s like Einstein level intelligence.”

Right now, the idea is in an alpha test. On their Instagram (@thewwhoteam), the founders have a couple of items listed that people can rent right now. But until they get the liability of the idea worked out, this is all they can do.

Once the group obtains some numbers and proof of concept, they can start to approach investors with evidence that their idea works.

WWHO is the first modern-style startup to come out of FDU. From Shark Tank, they’re now thinking of expanding to include the Madison Campus in the future, and potentially other college campuses after that.

“To be honest, I don’t think we do too much celebrating,” Iyamu said. “All summer, we were always in grind mode. And yeah, we were hyped about ‘Oh, we were notarized for this,’ and ‘Oh we were recognized for that,’ but in the same token we were like, ‘We got to move to the next step, next step, next step.’ So, it’s exhilarating for a moment, but then it gives us fuel to just keep working harder. That’s what I love about it.”

For now, WWHO is working on jumpstarting their operation and waiting to see what the future holds for their project.

“It’s scary and it’s fun at the same time,” Patel said.

 

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