LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 10, 2010) – Peyton Fouts will always remember the day he graduated from the University of Kentucky. But earning two degrees in three years at 19 years old was only part of it.
Fouts resolved to change the world on graduation day, and Ouibox, his recently-launched, multi-platform website, is just the start.
OuiBox is free, bringing together e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, plus its own social network, news, calendar, photo, music, video and blogging applications. Fouts' site also includes a unique writing tool, OuiWrite, which links Internet search engines to research papers as you write them.
With help from about 100 consultants, lawyers and programmers around the world and members of the Bluegrass Angels investment group behind him, OuiBox has been a cooperative process from the beginning.
"It seemed like 'we' as a collective could do much more than 'I' ever could, so it was WeBox," Fouts said. Well, almost. "People already put 'we' on things; if it's 'Oui,' I want it to be mine," he added.
Excluding his earned degrees, Fouts' undergraduate career was unlike most, in that he took 24 credits a semester, worked part-time outside of classes and was writing a book during his three years on campus. "I didn't have much time to have a lot of extra experiences, but I learned the meaning of hard work," he said. "I learned that if there's a 'no' in my life. I can turn that into a 'yes.'"
Fouts created OuiBox from nothing and has been involved in every video, graphic, layout, feature and business plan from the beginning.
But the Lexington native admits to being terrible at math, which was one of the reasons English seemed so attractive. And UK's classes certainly contributed to Fouts' repertoire of abilities, forcing him to speak publicly, to think about writing, organizational structures and communication styles. "My degrees really helped me develop a sense of self, persuasion and confidence in my approach to many areas in my life," he explained.
The OuiBox writing tool certainly would have helped Fouts during undergrad; he compares it to a calculator in math class. "OuiWrite uses templates and a lot of markup code to format your words in MLA, APA or Chicago format," he explained. "It also helps find all kinds of sources to what the user is writing and integrates them into the bibliography, allowing people to think of the ideas and content of the documents instead of proving they know long division by hand."
The launch has come and gone, and the innovator finds himself once again at a jumping off point similar to UK graduation day.
"Social networking is cool, but people want more than just to 'connect' with the same people they see at school and home," he explained. "I want to introduce the concept of human networking through new services like OuiWrite. Sure, there is a social component — share documents, et cetera — but it's about finding innovative ways to solve problems for the masses."
Nothing is too big for OuiBox. And Fouts' motive behind the mission remains the same as his initial thought at 7 years old:
"I remember watching a program on TV like Dateline or 20/20 that documented orphans in Sudan, and this poor little girl was about my age carrying her little baby brother in one hand and dragging her smaller dead baby brother with the other," he said. "I told myself I wanted to help her but didn't know how. The only way I could imagine was by making money. And that stuck with me for years until the final day of college when I got the idea for OuiBox."