By: Ahmed Balogun Mohammed | UW Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wyoming
The first international candidate to win the Associated Students of the University of Wyoming (ASUW) presidency| Ahmed Balogun Mohammed is making the most of his American college experience.
I am Ahmed Balogun. Together with my friends, Regan Baah and Samdup Bhutia, we founded LaraVibe this summer (2015). I came to Laramie 4 years ago from Abuja, Nigeria to major in Mechanical Engineering and the honors program. I eventually picked up a minor in Decision Science as my interest in entrepreneurship grew. Currently, I am in the BS/MS program and transitioning into my Masters in Mechanical engineering and potentially an MBA.
Coincidentally, I met both Regan and Sam in the same setting, though a year apart. It was at the International Student Orientation and I had just participated in the welcome as ASUW President when I met Regan. Regan is a sophomore from Accra, Ghana studying Computer Science while Sam is from Darjeeling, India. She’s in her third year double majoring in Business Administration and Accounting.
I love free food. I mean who doesn’t? That’s a guaranteed way to get the attention of colleges students. I have been to countless events solely because of the entice of getting a free meal. In some cases, I learn something new or make new friendships along the way. So this summer I got thinking that it would be neat to have some sort of curated list of free food events to share with other students. It was this idea that gave birth to the concept of LaraVibe.
The idea of a curated list of just free food events was expended to broadly include events in Laramie with a dedicated “free food” category after considering there would not be free food events daily. I figured this new event hub could also serve to slay the “there’s nothing to do in Laramie” notion that is all too common among students. While there is not an extensive variety of things to do in Laramie compared to say Denver, there’s often events and activities students could engage in. The problem I saw was lack of awareness or a central source with all the information. LaraVibe was created to fill this void.
Connecting the Dots
I had no serious programming experience so I reached out to a couple of friends for advice and help. Alfredo who graduated with Computer Science last year and now works in Denver was my resource to understanding the whole website/app logistics process. I also drew inspiration from my friend Odiaka at Oklahoma who founded Astropular. Eventually, Regan was the right person to put the ideas all together in lines of codes. Sam came on board to keep our finances in check and as lead in charge of marketing. So on June 13th, we all got together at Coe Library to draft a partnership agreement and purchased the web hosting service.
Our primary goal for LaraVibe was simplicity in design and ease for user interaction. A key distinguishing feature of LaraVibe is that events are listed based on upvoting (“likes”) by users rather than event time or any other criteria. This way, trending events can be viewed at a glance.
There are also four simple event categories (Free Food, Social, Activity & Enlighten) to help users easily get to events.
Furthermore, there’s the piece of funding. We didn’t want to take away from our user's experience with annoying adds on our webpage or app. So we currently cover the expense to run the LaraVibe infrastructure out of our pockets while we explore means to monetize LaraVibe to at least support itself.
The other piece we’re currently battling with is getting the word out. Our friends have been extremely supportive and I can't even begin to mention names. At certain moments, it was their words of encouragement and actions that got us through and challenged us to be where we are. We recently partnered with the American Marketing Association RSO here on campus to further our goal.
We have several feature upgrades and additions we’re considering adding to LaraVibe down the road. We hope to submit a proposal for the 30K Competition to enhance LaraVibe’s infrastructure and capabilities. The nature of this venture warrants constant improvements which is why it's so thrilling to me in the first place. It's like LaraVibe is our canvas and we get to paint it for the world to see.
As LaraVibe is completely student ran, feedback is really important to us and we would love to hear from you! Like LaraVibe on Facebook to stay updated with weekly events to attend, keep up to date with what we’re up to, or simply enjoy some college humor. LaraVibe will be available on both app stores from September 15th.
It's been an absolute pleasure and delight to be featured on the College of Business blog and we appreciate the opportunity given to us.
Please comment below for further questions!