by Y Combinator6/5/2017
As companies in this batch (YC S17) launch, we’ll share excerpts from some of their YC applications. You can see other launches by following the Company Launch tag.
WittyThumbs helps people improve their dating lives by teaching them how to open up emotionally, be more comfortable being authentic, spend their time effectively, reduce anxiety, and set clear expectations for themselves and others. Our users gain social confidence, stronger communication skills, and a clearer understanding of dating and how it fits into their lives.
Q: Why did you pick this idea to work on? Do you have domain expertise in this area? How do you know people need what you’re making?
We’ve all struggled in our own dating lives and know the feeling of having no clue what to do next. Questions like, “What’s the first thing I should say?” or “Why aren’t they texting me back?” are just a couple examples of the many worries we’d anxiously mull over.
We spent years dissecting dating and learning the skills piece by piece, most of which sounded unnatural to us. We went out every weekend to bars, clubs and parties. We spent over $20k on seminars from various high-profile dating coaches, and countless books/blogs/videos. Some were helpful, some were actively harmful, and sadly we didn’t know which were which at the time.
The skills and confidence eventually clicked for us, but looking back, we saw no reason why this had to be a grueling 10-year process. We wanted to help others figure it out much faster and cheaper. Liron and Lior started blogging about texting techniques. Lior also coached dating professionally for in-person clients.
Today, we are seeing many more people in the same position we were in 10 years ago. We believe these people and many others are suffering because they’re unsatisfied with their dating lives and don’t feel like they have anywhere to turn to for help. They either can’t afford or trust a dating/relationship coach, or they don’t know how to apply generic dating advice they consume online or in books to their own lives.
We want to be the place people trust to get reliable, affordable, and instant dating/relationship advice. We hope to change how people date and have relationships for the better, both personally and culturally, leading to strong bonds, less frustration, and more fulfilling romantic lives.
Q: What do you understand about your business that other companies in it just don’t get?
Other companies in our industry have either not recognized the new problem modern daters are facing or aren’t trying to fix it on a global scale.
Until recently, the biggest issue with dating used to be about finding people to date. Over the last 15 years, online dating websites like eHarmony and apps like Tinder have fixed that problem. But in fixing it, a new problem arose. In the past, you’d date people you somewhat knew or had an initial connection with. Today, your online matches are complete strangers with more options, making it harder than ever before to get to know who they are and how they feel about you throughout the dating process. This makes navigating the new world of dating a struggle for those without the right communication skills or experience.
There are a few other companies that recognize this new problem. However, none of them are trying to solve the problem like dating websites and apps solved matchmaking. Unlike them, our business is designed to solve the problem on a global scale.
Q: Please tell us about the time you most successfully hacked some (non-computer) system to your advantage.
Liron Shapira – In 2012, when my company Quixey was struggling to find great engineers to hire, I spotted an arbitrage opportunity: Recruitment costs per engineer were upwards of $20k, yet $100 is a lot of money to a college student. Ergo, we could afford to pay 200 college students $100 if it yielded us 1 great full-time engineering hire. This led me to invent the Quixey Challenge, a tough 1-minute online coding challenge that anyone could play which instantly paid out $100 to winners, and then asked if they might be interested in applying to Quixey. We ran it a few times, usually hitting the front page of HN. For a total of $70k, we were able to hire 7 great engineers plus build excitement for our engineering brand.
Lior Gotesman – I graduated college in the middle of the market crash in 2009 with an Economics degree. Finding a career-building job felt like an insurmountable task. For the first time, the college-to-career system that’s been ingrained in my mind since elementary school seemed fundamentally broken. Going against conventional wisdom, I decided to pursue a programming career without any formal education. Since this was before coding bootcamps existed, I studied it all on my own and with Liron’s guidance. Last year, I was promoted to Senior Software Developer at Full Circle Insights. I hacked the career system that relied on having a formal education by teaching myself how to program and ignoring the part of job descriptions that say a computer science degree is required.
Y Combinator created a new model for funding early stage startups. Twice a year we invest a small amount of money ($150k) in a large number of startups (recently 200). The startups move to Silicon