Startup of the Month: Wyndow

Search less, do more with on-demand entertainment finder

Back Web Only Jul 13, 2015 By Russell Nichols

If you’ve ever wasted hours of free time searching for something to do with your free time, Oleg Kaganovich feels your pain. In 2012, he found himself in that exact situation during a business trip in the Big Apple. Rather than wait in a hotel room between meetings, he wanted to explore New York, but didn’t know where to begin. So he took his question to the web.

“Google, in its wisdom, came up with 2.6 billion results,” recalls Kaganovich, a former venture capitalist. “The challenge for a city like New York, Sacramento or anywhere in between is not the lack of options, but the exact opposite. It’s data overload.”

He did find some things to do, but after hours of searching, it was too late to go out. He ended up grabbing an early bite and reading a book. But the experience sparked another question: Were there other people struggling with what psychologist Barry Schwartz calls a “paradox of choice”? He spent the next year asking around and found a straightforward answer: yes.

From there came his idea for Wyndow, a platform that allows users to search for and discover entertainment options in a specific space and time. The website pinpoints your location and automatically aggregates various events — such as movies, museum exhibits, wine tours, concerts — in an image-rich interface. It happens on-demand in real-time, and the parameters are precise. For instance, a movie that ends a half-hour after the specified window wouldn’t show up as an option.

“We’re pushing what’s technically possible with the Web browser,” Kaganovich says.

As the founding CEO of Sacramento Regional Technology Alliance, Kaganovich knows how to navigate the tech arena. To start, he connected with developers he knew overseas. His sketches became the model for a prototype, and beta tests let him know what parts needed work. Kaganovich believes in the lean startup model. He works out of the local co-working space the Urban Hive, and spent a year and a half assembling his core team. Since then, the company’s been working to make the technology more robust and getting feedback through more tests and multiple focus groups. Kaganovich says the platform currently receives millions of events per year across dozens of content partners.

“Data quality varies so much, it’s on us to shore that up and get everything aligned,” says Michael Crumm, Wyndow’s vice president of platform development.

The buzz has been building since Wyndow had its soft launch in June at the SARTA TechEdge Celebration. Local investors helped the company exceed its seed funding goal, he says, and revenue will come from native advertising and partnerships with larger companies. The official launch is slated for early fall and by the year’s end, Kaganovich expects to be live in Europe. An app for mobile devices is also in the works.

Kaganovich says the time-sensitive element separates Wyndow from other local apps like Yelp, and he understands his target market. If you’re already planning to go to a Sacramento Kings game or your favorite band is in town, you won’t need Wyndow for that night. This website is designed for people who find themselves with a limited window of unplanned leisure time.

“The vast majority of people don’t actually know what they’re searching for,” he says. “The question is: What do you want to do? Wyndow helps you answer the question by putting enough options in front of you that are not overwhelming.”