Startup Showcase: Vugo
Silicon Valley is not the birthplace — or destination — of every new tech startup. Vugo is one of many Minnesota startups committed to stay in the state. Commitment like this will assist in continuing to develop our local entrepreneurial culture and inspire others to start their own venture.
Vugo is bridging the gap between digital and real-world advertisement. Their strategy to provide value to businesses and customers through targeted advertising has piqued the interest of some West Coast investors.
Founder: Robert Flessner
City you live in: Minneapolis
City of birth: Minneapolis
High school attended: Orono High School
College attended: University of Rochester (BA), University of St. Thomas (MBA)
Robert is the CEO and co-founder of Vugo and takes lead on product management and operations of the business. Vugo was a MN Cup Semi-Finalist in the High Tech Division and participated in Beta.MN 2.5. Robert was listed as one of the featured Minnesota Business Magazine’s Young Entrepreneurs in 2015 for his role at Vugo.
Prior to co-founding Vugo, Robert was a product manager at Surescripts, where he brought new health care software products to market. Robert has always had a strong entrepreneurial side, with a strong desire to bring impactful products to market.
Vugo is rideshare advertising, and has even been called “Google Adwords on Wheels.” Vugo partners with rideshare drivers to place advertisements on headrest-mounted tablet devices inside rideshare vehicles. Advertisements are displayed based on the known intent of a particular trip. Environmental signals are collected to determine the intent of the trip, and Vugo is able to accurately determine which advertisements should be displayed. Passengers are able to interact with the advertisements by clicking on the screen and interacting with the corresponding landing page.
Business Start Date: February 2015
Number of Employees: 4
The Origin: Co-founder James Bellefeuille moved to Chicago from Minneapolis for a digital marketing job. He was new to the city and decided to drive for Uber as a way to meet people, learn more about the city, and get oriented with his surroundings. One of his early friends happened to be a restaurant owner. The owner of the restaurant asked him to put menus in his car when he was driving. Some of his passengers began directing him to drive them to the restaurant. James called Robert after this had happened on a number of rides and the plan for Vugo was created.
Read the Q&A here.