What Cheer trio joins Bay Area startup Pack
What Cheer partners (from left) Alex Gates, John Hobbs and John Henry Müller have joined Pack, a Bay Area startup.
"Working on our own projects has always been something that we've wanted to do," What Cheer founder John Henry Müller, who started the company six years ago, said in an interview Wednesday.
Müller and his business partners Alex Gates and John Hobbs have been given an equity stake in Pack. They join a Pack team that also includes founder Megan Casey, who previously co-founded the online publishing platform Squidoo with author Seth Godin, and one intern.
Both Casey and the intern are based in the Bay Area. Müller, Gates and Hobbs will remain in Omaha, leading the product's design and development. What Cheer's fourth team member, Becca Nispel, will leave the company to pursue a freelance career.
Müller, Gates and Hobbs reached an agreement last month to join Pack and have been working on the project part-time. On Jan. 1, What Cheer will stop doing client work and begin focusing full-time on Pack.
But What Cheer won't cease to exist entirely. The trio will continue to work on past products it created, such as Bumble, a phone app for children, Pep Rally, a task collaboration app for teams, and I Live in Omaha, a grassroots campaign that displays city pride. What Cheer also has designs on creating other products in the future.
Müller met Casey (right, with dog Luna) in June when the Pack founder hired him to do consulting work for Squidoo. In August, Casey left Squidoo to pursue Pack, an idea she had in her mind for the past three years. Two months later she called Müller to see if he would be interested in teaming up.
"I basically spent about two months trying not to hire him because I wanted to go through and meet a whole bunch of people out here in San Francisco," Casey said in a phone interview Wednesday. After having a distributed team at Squidoo, Casey's goal was to hire a team in the Bay Area.
"At the end of the day I couldn't shake the hunch – and I operate a lot on hunch – that really John Henry was the right guy," she said. Two days after a phone call with Müller, she flew to Omaha to spend time with What Cheer. By early November, the two parties had made the Pack team official.
"If somebody else came to us with this idea of a social site around the concept of dogs, we would not think twice about it," Muller said, "but because Megan is just so smart (we went for it)."
Pack, which Casey said will give dog owners an About.Me-style page for their dogs, aims to release an early version in February and launch a beta version by the end of March.
Learn more about Pack from Casey on the company's blog: "Pack // The Beginning!"
Credits: What Cheer photo courtesy of What Cheer. Megan Casey photo courtesy of Casey.