Got a disagreement? Take it to online JabberJury peers
Creative guys with entrepreneurial desires, Kevin Wielgus of Carol Stream and Angelo Rago of Des Plaines had been looking for a business idea they could launch together. They found their inspiration during a social night in 2009 that took an awkward turn.
Wielgus and his wife, Lisa, joined Rago and his about-to-be-former girlfriend at a Schaumburg comedy club when they say Rago's date received a phone call about her father in the hospital for a relatively minor and embarrassing health condition.
The date was mad when Rago didn't leave with her and Rago worried that she was bad-mouthing him to her friends.
"They're not even getting the whole story," complained Rago, who voiced plenty of reasons for not going to the hospital. "Am I in the wrong here?"
Most people would side with Rago if they knew the whole story, the buddies figured. If only there were a website where both sides could present their cases and let friends and the online community decide who was right.
"After we came up with the idea, I couldn't sleep for two weeks," Rago says.
Now, a trial version of JabberJury.com is a reality.
"We think it's catchy. We think it's fun to say," Rago says of the name.
"Plus," Wielgus adds, "it's the sound of chattering monkeys."
Finding venture investors and hiring a handful of like-minded staff members from around the globe, Wielgus (the CEO) and Rago (executive VP of sales), both 36, built a website they hope will become a part of the Internet fabric by harvesting people's interest in conflicts. It's part YouTube, part "Judge Judy," part Jerry Springer and set in a game format. People who post arguments or choose sides will earn points called "Jabbies" that result in higher prestige and maybe even real prizes from advertisers.
"Maybe if you got enough points you could go on a make-up vacation with the girl you were just fighting with," Wielgus speculates.
The procedure is similar to a real courtroom. A person can film a short video setting out his position in an opening statement. His adversary would get a message showing part of that video and an invite to post a response. If that person doesn't respond, the argument never appears on the website. But if both parties agree to air their differences on JabberJury, friends and strangers can voice opinions, make snide comments and vote on issues such as whether a guy should shave his beard, how much freedom to give a 15-year-old, what color to paint the kitchen or whether a couple should vacation in Florida or Colorado.
"It's a bit more fun to record a 3-minute video than to write an essay about why you want to go to the beach instead of the mountains," Rago says.
With today's technology, an argument could be on the Internet within minutes.
"You could pick up your phone and say, 'Let's go to JabberJury and we'll have this settled by tomorrow morning,'" Rago envisions.
The site will give people editing tools and methods to get across their messages, Wielgus says. People will be able to search the arguments to find what they are looking for.
"If you can see other parents arguing with their teenagers, you won't feel so alone," Wielgus says.
Many current websites prove that people will watch entertaining videos, even if they don't know the participants. Hit TV shows suggest people like to vote. JabberJury combines those features.
"This is America. This is a jury of your peers," Wielgus says. "We certainly will have people who will be entertained by this constant stream of conflict."
A trial version is available now at www.JabberJury.com, and the full version should be live soon.
"In time," Wielgus says, "for all your holiday arguments."