Every good entrepreneur knows that when you are talking to potential investors, they want to hear a story. They want to invest in the person as much (or more) than they want to invest in the business.
Chicago Entrepreneur Kevin Wielgus is no exception and his new startup Jabber Jury started, like many a good story, in a bar.
After what could be called a dramatic evening, Kevin, his wife and his friend Angelo were in a bar. Kevin thought what had just happened to them was a great story, and he gathered a number of strangers’ attention in the bar.
“I am going to tell you all a story,” he said, “and afterwards if it is a waste of your time, I’m buying a beer for everyone.”
He had the room’s attention, and he began to tell the tale of what transpired earlier in the evening:
Kevin, his wife, his friend Angelo and Angelo’s new girlfriend were out earlier that night at a comedy club at suburban Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg. Everyone was enjoying themselves. Things were about to get interesting.
Angelo’s girlfriend got a call. She was informed her father was going to the hospital and she wanted to leave at once. Angelo and his girlfriend had only been going out for two weeks at this point, and Angelo didn’t feel like leaving the comedy club. Angelo then asked Kevin if he and his wife would drive him home later and tossed the keys to his new girlfriend and told her to take his truck.
“At this point,” said Mr. Wielgus, “the whole bar divided into two camps- half thought Angelo was a jerk and half thought it was no big deal.”
After his girlfriend left, Angelo, Kevin and his wife enjoyed the comedy show and had a great time. That was when the texts started coming in.
“Texts saying things like, ‘I can’t believe you didn’t come with me,’ and ‘you are such a jerk, your true colors are coming out’ started streaming onto Angelo’s phone from his girlfriend,” said Mr. Wielgus, “and she was mad!”
Angelo then found out his girlfriend had driven his truck to a far off hospital where his girlfriend’s Dad had gone and was too annoyed with her at this point to go get it and decided to go the next day.
“He was so mad,” said Mr. Wielgus, “he wanted to get a beer and talk about it so we went to a bar with my wife and then I gathered everyone in the bar to tell the story.”
After he finished the story, he had everyone’s attention and then asked who was right. “Most of the women and some of the guys took Angelo’s girlfriend’s side, and a lot of the guys still didn’t think it was a huge deal.”
“Then,” smiled Mr. Wielgus, “I revealed why Angelo’s girlfriend’s Dad went to the hospital. His hemorrhoids were acting up and he wanted to see the Doctor. No major emergency, no life and death consequences. Hemorrhoids.”
At this point the bar was laughing and most everyone took Angelo’s side with the exception of a few die-hard women. “At that moment, with everyone laughing and enjoying the story, I realized it could be a business if I could find a better way to put these types of stories in front of people.”
Jabber Jury works on a virtual points system. Everyone gets 500 points for joining the site and there are other ways to earn money as well. If you have two friends that are bickering over something, you can bring their case to Jabber Jury and get points for bringing the case.
Once a case has been brought to Jabber Jury, the real fun begins. Each side posts a video of themselves arguing their side of the case. First the accuser makes their point, then the defendant offers a rebuttal followed by another video by the accuser wrapping their case and one more from the defendant doing the same.
Jabber Jury’s users then can risk 50 virtual points choosing who they think made the best case. After the community votes, a winner is declared and everyone that risked 50 points on the winner receives 100 points as a prize for demonstrating their excellent jurisprudence. Those that backed the losing party lose their 50 virtual points.
For being involved in the case, the winner receives a large share of virtual points if they win. (The actual amount will vary by case).
Jabber Jury is forming partnerships with major brands where users can redeem their points for real life goods and Mr. Wielgus says this is where Jabber Jury offers real value to advertisers.
“Say a husband and wife present a case where one of them wants to pay off their debt and the other one wants a beach vacation,” said Mr. Wielgus. “Jabber Jury will watch how people tend to vote on cases and form a psychographic profile of them. It could be that the people who vote for paying off the debt also vote on other cases that demonstrate their preference for fiscal discipline. When we show advertisements to that user, Jabber Jury will be more likely to show them ads for investment, banking or debt reduction.”
Lightwater, LLC in Florida apparently agreed with Mr. Wielgus’ business model and just invested $1.2 million in Jabber Jury.
“I am excited about our involvement with Jabber Jury and look forward to increasing our role and relationship over the coming months,” said Everett Palmer, the Managing Member of Lightwater, LLC. “We are impressed with the business model of Jabber Jury and the ability of its management team to execute its plans. We will be working diligently to assist with the development of Jabber Jury’s operations and relationships.”
Mr. Wielgus says that Jabber Jury also is speaking to, “several TV networks that are interested in forming a clip show of the best of Jabber Jury.”
In the 1st Quarter of 2011 Jabber Jury has teamed with Chicago based Aspen Marketing to take Jabber Jury on a road show to cities across the U.S., complete with RV and outdoor set with jury boxes for people to vote live on cases.