Chat with helpful strangers. Private, anonymous, & safe.

#1 Product of the DayAugust 12, 2014

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We just soft launched our app Kindly, so it was awesome to see that Ryan mentioned us on this week's PH Radio show! Our work is still cut out for us, but @gregkucsan and I wanted to share the early release w you with the hopes of getting some feedback! Kindly instantly connects people looking to chat about common life issues (think relationships, stress, creativity blocks...) in one-on-one anonymous chat sessions with other users who’ve volunteered to lend their ears. I think most of us have experienced moments in life when we get stuck and could use a different perspective from someone outside our friends and family. Therapists obviously have a place for many issues, but sometimes you just need an outside ear from someone who’s been through a similar experience. We believe most people are kind and will take a few minutes to help a stranger given they have the platform. I'm curious to see what people think of this idea and how we're approaching it. Anyone looking to be in touch, I'd love to meet all of you:
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I met @jordanwalker at the NYC happy hour a month ago where I was introduced to a pre-release build of Kindly. I really like the direction and as I mentioned on Product Hunt Radio #18 (published this morning), it's built a product on a behavior often found on Whisper private chat to connect people for on-demand therapy/advice. Sorry to keep plugging but a while ago I wrote a piece about how technology can make the world more empathetic, pointing to examples like Secret, HandUp, Jelly, and even Snapchat. Kindly fits in this category too, of course. cc @abramdawson @nbt @jordanwalker - How are you seeding the community?
Thanks @rrhoover! We're actually seeding the community with psychology students from various universities and a handful of real psychiatrists are occasionally available. However we're aiming to build a true peer-to-peer support network, and at the moment anyone who wants to can lend their ear.
@jordanwalker nice job with the app! @rrhoover showed it to me a few weeks back, and i've been getting the notifications since... what do you think of other products like 7CupsOfTea that are trying to build similar marketplace/communication platforms? it feels like someone will nail this on mobile
@nbt Thanks for checking it out. I've enjoyed using 7 Cups of Tea and similar web apps, but it just feels like a mobile first experience has been lacking, and I think it's necessary for a community like this to become ubiquitous. You never know when you'll have that moment when you'll be inclined to reach out for a chat. Having a helpful peer in your pocket who's already volunteered to lend their ear I believe will help people feel less isolated in their lives and give them a sense of relief. This is all from personal experience btw. Other than being mobile first, our main differentiator is that we essentially allow anyone who signs up to lend their ear. 7 Cups feels a bit clinical to me whereas a chat session on Kindly should feel as if you're talking with a friend who's gone through a similar life experience. There's a pay it forward theme to Kindly, where one day you might be using it to vent, but the next week you might be killing time when you receive a push notification saying "someone else in the community is looking to talk, are YOU available?" That feels powerful and human. Of course, we do have a weighting system for our listeners, so while everyone can be a listener at this phase, certain people are matched ahead of others based on their prior engagement and ratings. It's all a bit of an experiment at this phase, but we're seeing very promising behaviour! BTW we have a very strict flagging/reporting policy.
@jordanwalker Is there a risk involved in letting anyone be a listener without proper training in how to deal with different situations that someone might have when calling in?
@DavidSpinks Yes and we're working on this the best we can. We are consulting w/ psychiatrists, social scientists and various experts on mental illness to curate resources in-app and to implement the right features to allow for a safe community. As it stands now, we have a one strike flagging policy, where if a user is flagged for being inappropriate they receive an alert letting them know their account has been temporarily suspended with instructions on how to un-suspend. We also provide notes to new users entering their first chats framing the kind intentions of our community. At the end of the day, you might get a great listener who changes your perspective and offers a positive experience, or you might find someone sub-par and then you hopefully move on. Every listener is rated at the end of their chat sessions, so we're building data on who our best listeners are, and we'll be able to match them to chat requesters accordingly. It's top of mind for all of us.
I've been beta testing Kindly for a few weeks now and I love it! I find myself looking for opportunities to chat with folks and potentially be helpful. It's a great way to practice listening skills and gain a better understanding of human nature.
I think advice/guidance is an area with huge growth potential - linking up people with expertise with those in need of that expertise. Foursquare is onto this a bit, as well as Google Helpouts, but neither has the model right. Kindly (and also Sensay which was on PH last week) are both going after this niche in a very interesting way. I think you are on to something here, @jordanwalker.
@jameskoole Thank you for the comment! I'll check out Sensay. I hadn't found many outlets that aimed to create meaningful conversations in real-time and focused on the one-to-one within the context of common life struggles and questions. Most services I know about are forum based which doesn't really lead to the insights and magical moments that can only come out of an actual conversation. There was something therapeutic about anonymous chat rooms back in the day, but chatting with strangers became creepy at some point and was eventually stigmatized. It feels like we're coming around and seeing the value in these communities now. I've been describing Kindly to some people as a virtual park bench or a bat phone for emotional support, which seems to resonate w/ some.
I used Secret the last couple weeks and ended up removing it because it was too negative: I want positive things to exist in the world. Kindly looks like that. I look forward to trying this.
Thanks @thetylerhayes. This is really our goal. It's very early in our product launch but we are already seeing a compassionate community forming. I believe that our focus on empowering one on one conversations as opposed to having an open forum / comments section breeds a more serious mature user.
@jordanwalker it is an appropriate day for many people to find out about this. More and more people are becoming more comfortable speaking with strangers and this seems like a great way to truly connect.
@WesMagness god I know, such a tragedy. I wish it weren't the case, but mental illness/ depression is clearly a global problem much larger than any of us realize as we go through our day to day lives. We all can do our little part to help.