Hi all,

*Gestures at people chugging Purell smoothies and buying hazmat suits for their dogs as the markets slide into the sea*

Well, this seems like a good time to share something I’ve been stealthily working on for the past few months!

TL;DR: NeedHop is an app to help grown-ups connect one-on-one to solve their biggest problems. Built by our badass all-female dev team, v1 just went live on the App Store and I’m hoping you’ll download it, create a free profile and possibly change a stranger’s life.

Link: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/needhop/id1499743694

Longer version…

Even before the Coronavirus forced us even further apart, technology and social media had already driven us into bunkers. We distrust and fear strangers, and talking to them online rarely ends well. That’s sad, but it’s also dangerous.

Whatever you’re struggling with right now – health, addiction, money, work, divorce, a big scary virus – you can be sure somebody out there has been through it too. I know from dark, personal experience that finding that person can change your life, and theirs.

In 2009 I quit drinking without AA. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and there were many times when I could have fallen off the wagon. But I was lucky: My job as a columnist gave me access to literally millions of readers, some of whom had been on the same journey and were willing to share their own hard-won advice. Those incredibly kind people, and my ability to find and learn from them, literally saved my life.

A couple of years later, after I wrote an essay about my sobriety for the Wall Street Journal, I started to get emails from newly sober people asking for *my* advice and support. I still get them today, and I always drop everything and reply immediately. I know what it’s like to feel alone in your problems and how powerful it is to hear the words “I’ve been there!”

Last year, while helping Sarah build Chairman Mom, I started thinking seriously about the power of shared life experience, and also how connecting with strangers online doesn’t have to be toxic.

Specifically I thought about the app I wish I had when I was trying to get sober, or panicking about getting my Green Card, or suddenly being co-responsible for raising two children. Something that fills the yawning gap between group therapy apps and paid expert networks – and is designed specifically to help grown-ups quickly find someone who can give them real, practical advice and support, via some kind of online chat/messaging, over the phone or even in person.

Eventually it would also have a way to fairly and easily $$$ compensate the people who help you, or to make a donation to charity on their behalf. (If it could end the tyranny of “can I pick your brains over coffee?,” so much the better.)

After I was done thinking, I decided to raise some money and actually build it.

Today, after a lot of hard work, mostly by my amazing technical co-founders Shea Ryan and Monica Engel, we’re ready to share v1 of NeedHop with the world.

That link again.

(Android coming very soon!)

“How can I be helpful?”

Gosh, thanks for asking!

The biggest, easiest thing you could do is download the app and create an account. The whole process takes maybe 45 seconds and it’ll allow us to suggest people who might need your help. (It’s up to you if you actually connect with them, of course.) Soon you’ll be able to make $$ for yourself or charity in return for helping others.

It would also make a huge difference if you’d share NeedHop with you friends and followers, particularly those who you think could use a little help. It’s a noisy world out there.

And, of course, if you have a problem of your own that’s keeping you awake at night, please do share it anonymously on NeedHop so we can find someone to change your life.

One more thing: NeedHop only became real thanks to a few amazing investors who believed in the idea – in particular Tim Connors (Pivot North) and Andy Dunn (Red Swan). (Yes, the round is still open!) It also wouldn’t have been possible to do any of this without Sarah Lacy help and her letting me spin the initial work out of Chairman Mom. Naturally she’s also a co-founder of NeedHop.

Thanks finally to everyone who gave advice/suggestions for the minimum viable product – especially Sarah Kunst , Gregg Spiridellis, Marco Zappacosta, Bastian Lehmann, Sarah Tavel, Tony Hsieh, Alfred Lin, Shane Steele, Eris Stassi, and JR Johnson.

Ok! Please, please do download the app and create a profile. I’d love to hear your feedback, feature suggestions, bug reports etc. It’s very much a minimum viable product and there’s a LOT of exciting stuff still to come.

Now wash your hands.