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How a call from grandpa inspired an award-winning business plan

Will Cunningham and Freddie Hayeck stand next to a banner that advertises their company, Witz.

Last year, senior Will Cunningham received a surprise phone call from his grandfather, who wanted some guidance regarding his investment allocations. While Cunningham’s grandfather had a wealth manager, he found the consultant’s advice to be too complicated and was looking to his grandson, a TCNJ finance major, to simplify things. 

Cunningham wondered if other people had the same challenges regarding investments, so he and friend Freddie Hayeck, a senior interdisciplinary business major, set out to poll TCNJ students. 

What they discovered didn’t surprise them; many of their classmates didn’t understand how to invest their money in an effective manner and were looking for simple, high-quality advice at a low cost. The survey results — and that phone call from Grandpa — sparked the concept for Witz, a free, personalized investment allocation app, and the winner of the $30,000 top prize in this year’s Mayo Business Plan Competition.

While free online financial calculators exist, they lack personalized advice and often have management fees and high net-worth requirements that exclude many users. But Witz provides free, simple, and personalized financial advice with no minimum account balances. With Witz, users can connect everything from savings to brokerage accounts to the app. 

Using a model built by the company, the app determines a user’s optimal investment allocation across different asset classes, and then continues to track net worth through the connected accounts and updates allocation advice accordingly to help users reach their financial goals. 

Cunningham and Hayeck are no strangers to developing business plans. In fact, the pair competed in the Mayo competition together early in their TCNJ career but didn’t make it very far.

“We were lacking the education and other professional experiences that we now have with four years at TCNJ,” Hayeck says. “This year Will had a great solution to a pervasive problem, and we were passionate about solving this issue.”

Cunningham and Hayeck will put most of their spoils toward app development, ensuring the interface is easy for users to understand. The rest will be used for marketing and miscellaneous legal fees. While Cunningham and Hayeck are excited to eventually launch their company to the world, they recognize the importance of taking their time to get things right.

“We’re concerned with putting the best product out there,” Cunningham said. “An infusion of cash really helps us to achieve that goal, especially at an early stage. It breathes life into our business, and I’m grateful TCNJ is a part of our story.”

Kelley Freund