Union alums reinvent social media in the app market

From left to right William Sargent ’11, Elizabeth Sargent ’11, and Maxwell Troop ’14 created a social media app called Wigeon. (Courtesy of Maxwell Troop)
From left to right William Sargent ’11, Elizabeth Sargent ’11, and Maxwell Troop ’14 created a social media app called Wigeon. (Courtesy of Maxwell Troop)

Whenever you think of the term ‘social media’ and its relationship to the app market it tends to convey the notion of scrolling through a feed of user statements, videos, and pictures.

Proactively scrolling down and picking the type of media that you want to view does not seem like a challenging task to many, but there’s always space for improvement for those that want to establish incredible user friendly interfaces.

Among the group of innovators seeking to do just that are Union alums Maxwell Troop ’11, Elizabeth Sargent ’11, and William Sargent ’14, with their new and innovative creation, Wigeon.

Troop, who also goes by Max, currently serves as the CEO of Wigeon and leads both the conceptual and strategic parts of the company’s daily operations. Max’s inspiration to start something on his own that would benefit consumer was a goal he strived for since beginning his time at Union.

Max enrolled at Union in 2007 and began as an Economic major with a minor in History. As a member of the student body Max always wanted to remain active in both the academic and social settings while attending college. Whether it was playing on the club soccer team or attending the ski club trips in the winter, Max did his best to engage in a variety of campus activities at any opportunity.

That mindset only grew stronger at Union as Max stated, “I loved the small tight knit atmosphere, it helped me want to take on new projects, and I loved getting started on anything new.”

Elizabeth Sargent ’11, Max’s fiancee, was in the same class as Max and was a History major with a minor in Spanish and had an underlying love for technology. The two began dating their sophomore year and both enjoyed sharing random selections of videos, pictures, and messages with each other and their close friends, a trend which still remains evident amongst present day Union students.

The idea of ‘personal media’ over ‘social media’ became a recurring theme for Max. Even as an associate at Mischler Financial Group in Stamford, Connecticut, Max wanted to expand that idea into an actual platform. The urge was too strong and so after four years in finance Max left his job.

Unlike Facebook, Snapchat, or Pinterest, data feeds would be sent to you rather than you going to it. The idea of a self-functioning community where it wouldn’t be an algorithm producing information for you to view, rather a community of users who know you on a personal level.

Through networking and fundraising, the nessecary funds were gathered to hire six developers based in Brooklyn, New York. The developers were tasked with creating the personal media app, to cover legal costs, and to fund the foundation of the software itself. Max noted that, “there’s always unanticipated costs.” Elizabeth’s brother, William Sargent ’14, came on board as a Union Economics major with a minor in History, but who was fluent in programming languages like Javascript and jQuery. “It’s been great working with a group of fellow Union alums while bringing our vision to life.”

The naming of the product was next on the list. The product name brainstorming session went over four hours, and out of desperation the word Wigeon was randomly shouted out. A Google search confirmed that the word existed and is defined as a species of duck in Eurasia. The name wasn’t owned by any domain and so Wigeon became the groups’ identity.

They had their logo designed by the artist that designed Pinterest’s logo, Juan Carlos Pagan and the company was now in full motion. After more research and development the aspects of Wigeon which allow users share, organize, and discover content were empasized and the app launched in 2015.

Marketing has not been factored into Wigeon’s budget and so everything has been through word-of-mouth, but this strategy has accumulated over 1000 downloads thus far, which is the exact target that Wigeon wants to meet.

Seeing the growth in the personal media mindset, Elizabeth commented, “as freshman, we certainly never thought we would be starting a company together 9 years later! – I’m incredibly excited to see what the future holds for Wigeon.” Wigeon’s office is located in the SoHo district in New York City.

Max plans to continue to develop and expand Wigeon over time to meet its full potential. As Max stated, “I’m definietly not done innovating – I want to keep creating more products for the future.” Despite the fact they all studied social science and humanities from a small liberal arts school, they chose to reinvent media at an increasing scale.


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