Growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, it’s no surprise that Lindsey Cummins is full of great ideas. But it wasn’t until a doomed trip to Fire Island—and a partnership with a Kardashian—that she struck gold.
Shortly before graduating from Cornell, Cummins tried to plan a celebratory outing to Fire Island with her college girlfriends. The simple trip took three weeks to plan. Cummins found herself having to scroll through hundreds of mostly irrelevant group text messages to ascertain who could meet when and where.
Longing for a way to sift through the madness that is a group text, Cummins fixated on the idea of integrating polling, RSVPs, and other easy-to-read stats directly into a messaging platform to take the chaos out of group planning. That idea was Begroupd, a group messaging app that integrates decision-making tools directly into the conversation.
Shortly after getting her degree, Cummins came into contact with reality TV royalty Khloe Kardashian and was able to pitch her app idea. The Kardashian sister has since become a trusted business partner.
While Cummins keeps many details close to the vest, including the way she met Kardashian, she is delighted that the reality star has been so enthusiastic about the app. Kardashian has even shared a few sneak peeks of the user interface on her popular Instagram account, generating massive buzz with her followers.
We sat down recently with the WeWork Gramercy member and recent grad to discuss what sets the app apart, a typical day in her schedule, and important lessons she’s learned along the way.
WeWork: How’d you get to where you are now?
Cummins: I’ve always been fascinated by the tech industry. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I’ve always been coming up with ideas, but I knew this one was a solution to a problem everyone could relate to and something I could build on my own, so I had to pursue it.
WeWork: What was your biggest lesson starting out?
Cummins: My biggest lesson, which I am still learning, is to adapt really quickly. While I love planning ahead, in tech, you can’t always do that and you might have to pivot along the way. That’s something that will always be a challenge.
WeWork: What sets Begroupd apart from other messaging apps?
Cummins: It’s the only group messaging app that has decision tools built in, right where the conversation takes place. We have polls, ratings, RSVPs and yeses/noes, and they’re all interactive. The app tallies the response for you, so you never have to scroll through again to see who responded to a question you asked, who said they could go, or who said what day worked for them. It’s all in an easy-to-read graph.
The RSVP feature actually links directly to your calendar in your iPhone, and it will tell you if you have a conflict, or automatically add the event to your calendar if you say you’re going. It doesn’t just live within Begroupd, it actually relates to your life.
WeWork: What’s it like being a female founder in the space?
Cummins: I’ve been very lucky, and I built a great team around me early on, so I haven’t really noticed any drawbacks to being a woman in the space. I’m just happy to be part of this generation in tech.
WeWork: What’s your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Cummins: The biggest piece of advice I have to give to people is that once you find a really great person, even if there isn’t a job for them at the time, hire them. That’s something my dad said to me right when I decided I wanted to pursue this, and now I have a really amazing team that I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without. Something I look for in a person when I’m hiring them, besides their skill set, is if they believe in the mission of Begroupd. If they’re looking to add value, then that’s someone I want to work with.
WeWork: We’ve read that Khloe Kardashian is involved. What’s her role?
Cummins: Khloe’s a member of the team, she’s been working with us from the very beginning. It’s a product she can relate to, and she knows a lot of other people who can relate to it. We’re really excited to have her on board with us.
WeWork: How has working at WeWork changed your business?
Cummins: I love being in WeWork. Not only is it great to collaborate with the other people working here, but it also takes away a lot of the stress of growing a business, because you don’t have to worry about finding more space as you go, or anything that comes along with the pains of a startup.
WeWork: What’s your favorite feature of the app?
Cummins: Polling is my personal favorite. I think it’s the most fun for me, but it can also be used for practical reasons. My friends and I love to use it to send silly jokes back and forth—my classic example is watching The Bachelorette, where we always make a poll of who we think is going to get voted off. it sounds silly, but it’s something that people talk about all the time, and BeGroupd makes it fun.
Photo credit: Lauren Kallen