Entrepreneur Spotlight
Michael Reynolds and Henna Wang
Photo: Colleen Jose
Michael Reynolds ’06 and Henna Wang ’10 co-founded Gesso.
by Lori Ferguson

Henna Wang ’10 knows the challenges of making a strange place feel more like home. As a child, she moved between Taiwan and the United States, an itinerant existence that sharpened her appreciation for the inherent power of culture to connect.

Now the economics and art history major is drawing on her experience to guide the creation of Gesso, a mobile platform that features site-specific podcasts and audio guides to museums and cultural institutions, and innovative walking tours around New York City. Wang co-founded the company with her spouse, Michael Reynolds ’06, and friend Demetrio Filocamo. The team launched the app in spring 2019, and their business continues to evolve.

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“Culture has the power to connect us all.”

Gesso users can take tours of New York’s New Museum and the International Center of Photography, tap into site-specific historical narratives while walking around New York City and listen to podcasts on such subjects as the origins of The High Line, an elevated park and greenway on Manhattan’s west side. “Our goal is to highlight different perspectives for our users, whether it’s the forgotten history of a particular place or the voice of an artist who created a particular work of art,” Wang explains.

The latest iteration of the platform was released in early March, just as the coronavirus began to proliferate across the U.S. “Gesso is a particularly valuable tool for museums right now, as it allows visitors to explore collections virtually,” says Wang. “We’ve also introduced several solo walks that users can take around New York so that they can learn about the city while still respecting the current need for social distancing.”

Soon, London and Paris will join the list of cities that users can explore. “My passion is celebrating our collective heritage,” says Wang. “At Bucknell, I was encouraged to think about topics in multidimensional ways.” With Gesso, Wang brings that interdisciplinary approach to bear. “Culture has the power to connect us all,” she says.