We all know that others’ lives aren’t as perfect as they seem on social media. Sure, those beautiful holidays, delicious meals and family fun all look great, but they hardly tell the whole story. Anxiety, loneliness and worry don’t usually make it to our screens.
Unless you scroll through Wisdo, a social network entirely dedicated to discussing and overcoming life experiences, difficult ones included.
The idea is quite simple: Even though you might feel like no one’s been through the difficulties you’re encountering, that probably isn’t true. So why not harness the power of others’ experiences to help you cope with what’s down the road?
“Our mission is to help people thrive through life’s most painful moments by connecting to people who’ve been there. And we do that with the technology that maps out all of life’s most painful experiences and knows how to connect people,” explains Wisdo cofounder and CEO Boaz Gaon.
“I would say that Wisdo is a flashlight for life. It sort of shows you the road ahead and it helps you find that really special person who’s been near you all this time, but invisible, and can help you thrive in life.”
Gaon got the idea for the app when his father was diagnosed with cancer in 2000, passing away eight years later. Gaon knew that “millions and billions” had been through what he was experiencing, yet he couldn’t consult with them or ask them for advice, leading him to create a platform where such interaction could take place.
Anxiety, motivation, relationships
The app lets users select the experience they’d like to connect over. There are more than 100 options, including “coping with depression,” “heartbreak,” “being body positive” and “increasing happiness.”
They then get to choose from a number of steps within that experience to find the exact stage that they’re at in order to join a group discussion on the topic or to begin a one-on-one chat with a “helper,” a community member who’s been through a similar particular experience.
The majority of users – mostly young adults aged 18 to 24 – opt for “anxiety,” “getting motivated” and “relationship advice.” The app is restricted to over the age of 17.
The fact that most users are young adults is very telling, Gaon says, noting how social media use can leave people feeling lonelier than ever.
“People who grew up with social media, who grew up online, there’s a sense of loneliness,” he explains. “They are a generation that grew up connected to 3.5 billion people through the Internet and still feel that no one understands them. They’re looking for more meaningful connections. We seem to have tapped into that sentiment.”
“So what we see on the platform is many young adults connecting to others who will help them thrive through loneliness,” he adds.”People feel less alone the more they use our app. It’s very encouraging.”
The app was launched a year ago in the US, and most of its 500,000 users originate from English-speaking countries. The matching between users, groups and helpers is done using an algorithm.
According to Gaon, “it’s a combination of a shared past and helpfulness, activity – how quickly they can offer help to others – and a host of other factors.”
The community is closely supervised by moderators who ensure that no harmful content is uploaded and that anything requiring involvement by authorities is dealt with offline. Certain search words and keywords flag up to notify moderators, who receive training by a crisis expert and participate in monthly sessions to further improve their skills.
As for reactions to the app, Gaon says, “We’ve been bombarded with thank-you notes. If you look at the reviews you’ll find things like, ‘You saved my life,’ ‘You changed my life.’
“It’s been very, very moving and reminds us we’re tapping into something very powerful and that it’s on us to provide the best solution that we can,” he concludes.
The company is mostly based in Ramat Gan in Israel, and is comprised of both mobile developers and content and marketing people. Gaon himself has a background in journalism and storytelling.
The company first got funded some three years ago, and is planning more rounds in early 2019.
“Our goal for the next two years is to really more deeply tap into the age groups that we seem to be clicking with,” Gaon says. “We would want to become a go-to brand and go-to platform for young adults who are taking on meaningful life experiences.”
Then, he says, the goal is to expand to include as many different people as possible. “The dream is to be a guide for life. An app that everyone has on their phone that helps them thrive through everything they go through in life.”
All while keeping it real, of course.
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