Students studying outside the library

There's an app for that

Building a business and studying for exams, all from his Wofford residence hall

Jack McDonald 382
2016-05-06

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Jack McDonald, Wofford Class of 2019, is creating a travel app that will be among the first to include a social media platform. The app, Trip Help, will compare prices of different modes of transportation, recommend restaurants and activities along the way, and connect users with their friends on social media. The idea came to him last fall as he was driving to Wofford from his hometown of Rochester, N.Y.

McDonald, a double major in finance and accounting with a minor in computer science, is currently seeking investors. He hopes to move to the development process soon so he can launch the app in the fall.

McDonald has outsourced some of the development to three companies around the globe: one in India, one in the Ukraine and another in California.

“Over Interim I went to San Francisco for the first time, which was awesome,” he says. “Building my own website was fun, too. I love explaining the purpose of my app to people.”

Appster, a mobile and web app development firm that helps startups, chose McDonald's Trip Help as one of two startups — from the more than 200 applications it receives each quarter — to provide mentoring and support. In addition, Tyler Senecal, entrepreneurial programs director in the Space in the Mungo Center at Wofford, continues to offer guidance to McDonald by reviewing work he sends out to investors and others. Senecal also has helped McDonald make connections with others in the business world.

“The hardest part in the business aspect has been connecting with people. It’s a double-edged sword. You network and meet a lot of people, but it’s a very formal and rigorous process,” says McDonald. “The thing about being your own boss is that you know there’s always something you could be doing, or doing better…. But I love what I do, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else right now.”

Being an entrepreneur while balancing college keeps McDonald busy. In addition to academics, he is a member of the track and field team and Kappa Sigma fraternity. Because of the difference in time zones, he spends midnight to 4 a.m. every weekday answering emails, making phone calls and talking via Skype with investors and partners all over the world. Amidst his demanding schedule, he has to prioritize.

“The first thing to go is sleep,” he explains. “My social life has changed as well. I don’t get to spend as much time with my friends like I used to. Basically I go to class, do homework, go to practice, conduct business all night and then, if I’m lucky, sleep for about four hours. I catch up on the weekends.”

by Katie Sanders, Wofford Class of 2017