Entrepreneur Spotlight department heading
Colin Woodworth ’01, Neil Angis ’02, Brian Johnson ’02 and Dave Reddy ’02 (L to R) honed skills and built friendships at Bucknell that are the keystone of Well Told.
Photo: Danielle Ward, Summergrace Photography
Colin Woodworth ’01, Neil Angis ’02, Brian Johnson ’02 and Dave Reddy ’02 (L to R) honed skills and built friendships at Bucknell that are the keystone of Well Told.

A Gifted Group

by Nicole Gull McElroy ’00
The four Bucknellians behind custom gift company Well Told hold backgrounds that feel like the greatest hits of a liberal arts education. The collective experience of the company’s leadership team spans computer science, economics, engineering, English, history and mathematics. Those far-reaching disciplines inform the strategy, design and technology behind their personalized gift business.

In 2009, Brian Johnson ’02 was working as a mechanical engineer for the Army when he started a side hustle creating home goods, such as picture frames and DVD holders, out of recycled materials. By 2012, Johnson, who originally called the company Uncommon Green, had developed a line of engraved city map barware. His idea was to illustrate a personal connection to a place or experience, using a functional, everyday item as a canvas.

Johnson designed the products himself but needed help expanding the business, so he convinced a few Phi Kappa Psi fraternity brothers — Colin Woodworth ’01, a computer science and history double-major; Dave Reddy ’02, an economics and mathematics double-major; and Neil Angis ’02, an English major — to join his company.

Woodworth, who serves as chief technology officer, saw an immediate opportunity. “We thought these would make great closing gifts for real estate agents, but at the time we only had 25 cities,” he says. Woodworth developed custom code, enabling a shift in automation and scalability that completely changed the business. It allowed the company to offer barware and a growing assortment of gift items with detailed maps of virtually any location in the world.

“We talk about ourselves as a tech company disguised as a consumer products company,” says Angis, chief marketing officer. “We have custom night-sky products: a view of the stars and constellations from any time and any place. That wouldn’t have been possible with the way we were designing our products in the beginning.”

In 2019, with a more nuanced understanding of the company’s strategy, the team renamed the business Well Told. “We create products that tell your story,” Angis says.

Along the way, the alumni have continued to grow the charitable side of the business. Through its Well Told GIVES program, the company donates 10% of proceeds to nonprofits across the country. “To date, we have supported more than 250 nonprofit organizations of all sizes and causes, from local animal shelters to public schools to national organizations like Habitat for Humanity,” Johnson says.

Well Told recently launched in Barnes & Noble stores and continues to explore ways to extend the brand and product offering. “We’re transforming ourselves from ‘that map glass company’ to a national personalized gift business,” says Reddy, chief financial officer. “As long as we can learn, we’ll get better and stronger. We aren’t afraid to try new stuff.”