Interview with CEO & President of Whoo, Arturo Falck
Whoo Intercom was started by two friends who just finished college. Now, Whoo is installed in residencies globally! Here is the story behind the making of Whoo, Falck's background, and what he envisions the company as.
How did Whoo get started? Why put in the effort of creating your own company when you can work for another?
Falck has been an engineer his whole life. From a young age, he held a deep interest in engineering. After college he worked as a software developer, making "good enough" money. Falck wanted to do more with his skills; he was getting paid for his labor and wanted to expand that work. Six years ago, he met a neighbor who had facial blindness. Falck realized that with his experience in tech as a software developer, he could create an app that could recognize faces for his neighbor and people like him. Another group of people who would benefit from this app was salesmen, as they need to remember each of their clients in order to maintain a personal relationship with them. With that, the idea of Whoo was born. The first ‘Whoo’ device ever built was used by retailers for it’s facial recognition abilities. That turned out to be difficult to sell. Eventually, they started selling devices to schools as an increased layer of security, technology that was severely needed in the height of school shootings in America.
How was the name of the company decided on?
The actual name of the company is Mnemo Corp. It’s named Mnemo because it’s mnemonic, and the intention of the company was to create mnemonic devices that were helpful as a crutch for people to use. Mnemo (pronounced nemo), could also be a nod to Finding Nemo, as Dory forgot everything and needed reminders, something Falck’s young daughter noticed. Quickly however, Falck and his partner realized that many people couldn’t figure out how to pronounce the name of the company. Not knowing how to pronounce or spell it, potential customers were unable to find the company — a big problem they swiftly addressed. Since they were letting people know who was at the door, they decided on Whoo, something that was easy to remember and search for customers. The owl that is a part of the logo was put there in representation of education as a nod to the company's original clientele, schools.
What is something important that customers should know about the President of Whoo?
When Falck was just 7 years old, he was asked to write an essay about himself by his English teacher. Being from South America, English was not his first language so he wrote something short and encapsulating. He wrote, “I like to invent things and I like to build things, and I like to invent things”. He felt so strongly about it, he had to say it twice! Falck’s passion for invention and creation is what led him to build what we know as Whoo Intercom today.
What experience did Falck have prior to Whoo in running his own business?
Around the same time that his personal essay was written at just 7 years old, Falck had his first experience with programming. His parents supported his interest, giving him little computers to work on and he taught himself to program that way. Falck’s family became friendly with the man selling the computers to them, and soon found out that he had a school for programming, which was designed for college aged students. He agreed to allow Falck to attend his school, where he succeeded in programming. Things went so well that Falck toured the country with him in promotion of his school, with the idea that if a 7 year old can learn to program, anyone can. After that, he wrote sophisticated payroll software for his father’s company, learning things such as labor laws along the way. That was Falck’s first experience with collecting royalties on a software he created, learning the power of letting his software do the work for him. When he was in college, his only way to communicate with his parents was through fax, which was very expensive on campus as they were located in Ecuador. His university would charge extra for the fax paper as well as the charge of the call when it was overseas. Falck found it to be ridiculously expensive, so he went out and bought his own machine and began advertising to other students that he would only charge them for the call, rather than upselling the fax paper as well. That experience was Falck’s first business. After that, he’s been involved in countless different projects. One thing he noted specifically was that you should never be afraid to fail, it’s important to at least try.
What is one thing customers should know about Whoo?
Falck wants customers to know that Whoo is building products for them. The most important people to the company are their customers. “We listen to our customers. We built the minimum software necessary to make the product do what we wanted it to do and what the customers need. As we see the needs, we keep adding to the software in a controlled way so that it’s always stable and functional and it does exactly what you want it to do and it’s easy and intuitive. We want to add value to our customers’ lives.”