Identifying the Missing Puzzle Piece of the Customer Journey

Are some people born to be entrepreneurs? After all, it takes a certain type of person to identify a need in the market and work to find the optimal solution, all while shouldering greater than normal financial risk to do so.

It all started at the ripe old age of seven, when Jake Corday, co-founder and CEO of Waev, a best-in-class guest engagement platform for the hospitality industry, started his first entrepreneurial endeavor. “I saved up my Halloween candy and began selling it on the school bus,” shares Corday, “Before I even knew the word ‘entrepreneur’ I was bringing in five bucks a day, which felt like a whole lot to a 2nd grader.”

Throughout high school, his entrepreneurial spirit grew stronger as he learned how to program websites and leverage technology for local businesses. After graduating from the University of Florida, Corday returned to the Charlotte area to join a new startup who were in the process of growing their business. “As the tenth team member, it was a great opportunity to see firsthand what it looks like inside of a well-funded and rapidly growing startup.”

As a marketing major with a strong technology background, inspiration for Waev’s concept struck Corday one afternoon as he sat in a local restaurant. “There was a coaster in front of me that had Blue Moon advertised on it, and it suddenly struck me that these huge brands like Blue Moon, Bud Light, and Jack Daniels are all spending hundreds of millions of dollars to advertise on television, billboards, and social media, but at the point where the customer is actually ready to make their purchasing decision, their best marketing option is a stagnant relic that fails to capture attention in the digital age.”

From there, Corday’s wheels began turning. What if there was a way to create a dynamic, captivating, and ultimately more effective medium for marketing right within the restaurant or bar? And what if it not only allowed advertisers to promote their brand but also helped the restaurant or bar to highlight specials or high margin items to help inform a customers’ purchasing decision right at the point-of-sale?

In 2018, Waev officially launched its first suite of digital Waev displays in Charlotte. These in-venue communication platforms allocate 50% of its airtime to restaurant content and 50% of airtime to branding, engaging patrons throughout their visit.

Corday joined Innovate Charlotte’s Venture Mentoring program during what he calls a crossroads with his startup. “Early on we had opportunities in several different verticals, and I was seeking guidance on what we should be focusing on, and in what direction we should be steering the business,” Corday recalls.

He describes INCLT as a safe space to talk through the many decisions founders typically face on a daily basis, providing the much-needed structure so many startups struggle to navigate during their early stages. “One thing I’ve learned along the way is that mentorship is one of the most overlooked, yet critical pieces of the entrepreneurial journey,” Corday says, “INCLT does a great job of pairing the right mentors with the right entrepreneurs. The pairing process involves identifying mentors with industry experience relevant to your business, as well as identifying who you naturally click with on a personal level.”

Despite having graduated from the program, Corday maintains regular contact with his mentors. “I’ve formed friendships with my mentors, and their counsel remains tremendously beneficial to Waev.”

When asked what advice he’d give to others just starting out as a new founder or entrepreneur, Corday shares one word that has encompassed his personal journey: persistence. “I always refer back to Steve Jobs’ quote, ‘I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance,’ and that has always spoke to me because I know the amount of roadblocks you can, and will, run into,” Corday explains, “But the ones determined to find their way over, around, or through them have the best chance of being successful.”

“It’s a very inspiring story that Jake shared, and it is exciting that he was able to find mentorship support from Innovate Charlotte at the right time on his entrepreneurial journey” said Olga Muller, CEO at Kepler Team.

Waev recently closed their seed round and is looking to add talented team members to their Charlotte-based team. For more information, visit their website to apply.