The Visioning Room

Startup Perspectives: Honestly, Now

Getting Advice in an Aggregated, Fast Manner

The Internet opened the flow of information by both incredible amounts and incredibly speeds. The same can be done for spreading advice via the Internet as a tool for sharing. Honestly, Now is a profile-based website that lets you ask your community (or the wider community) for opinions and advice for everything from a potential new pair of glasses to how you should handle more serious family issues.

What It Is

Honestly, Now operates on the basis of maintaining a trustworthy community. Through Friend relationships inside the community, Honestly, Now provides users with a base of people to elicit advice from for any decisions they make seek help with making. Users can spread their question solely to friends in a private post, or they can open it up to the community at large if they want a speedier, more widespread response. They can also choose to network with “pros” for more reliable advice.

A Word From The CEO/Co-Founder

We got the opportunity to interview Tereza Nemessanyi, Co-Founder and CEO of Honestly, Now. Take a look at our Q&A for some insight into what Honestly, Now endeavors to do and how they endeavor to do so.

How do you maintain the “trustworthy community”? Is it simply through a strict invite-only policy?

We have several features in place to create a trusting place.  First, let’s define trusting place.  To us that means the asker can select whom they are asking a question, that the comments they receive are free of malice, and thirdly that they are in fact high-quality and useful.  We have two use cases.  The first is when a member asks his or her own friends privately for their anonymous vote.  Only her select friends see this.  So as long as she trusts her friends, she is in a safe place. We anticipate that a member will not be bringing her entire population of Facebook friends into Honestly, Now; just the ones she trusts for personal advice.

In the second use case, a member can ask our community for its opinion.  The community has voting rights, but only Pros can comment.  It bears mention that so far, our community is very high quality — 70% female, average age 38.   Pros are vetted and have their real name behind what they say.  Professionally, it is in their best interest to be respectful and helpful.  We do scan every picture, question and comment and have a no-tolerance policy for malicious or lewd behavior, and delete accounts who breach this.  That said, this has been exceedingly rare, based on the quality of our user base.  We’re pleased and proud that the members we have so far totally “get it”, and care deeply about being honest and respectful.

Until recently we had a strict invite-only policy, which established this quality community.  Over time, our members who’ve asked questions (which is 13% — extremely high for a user-generated site) — have been extremely delighted in their answers.  They now tell us they’re eager to share their questions more, and that the invite-only policy was a little too cumbersome.  So we’ve opened up the community on the invitation side, while maintaining the checks on quality on the inside.

Who is made a “pro” and what are the prerequisites to becoming one?

On the Pro side, we are about people who are in the business of helping other people, and we’re a platform to help them to create new relationships and build their brands.  At the very top of our Pros are what we call the Fab 50.  When we thought about how to create an awesome experience for an asker, we thought — well, what if our friends voted anonymously, but it was accompanied by advice from some of the best people on the planet?!? So that’s what we set out to do.

We initially focused on what we call “aesthetic services” — fashion stylists, beauty and hair, and selected a group of the top people in the world in these fields.  But we also quickly learned that people have awesome questions about other important things:  their relationships, etiquette, parenting, career, home, health.  So we are in the process of expanding both the Fab 50 group as well as the larger Pro set.  All Pros have been vetted by us.  We’ve been incredibly selective with the Fab 50.  They have to “live honestly” by our estimation, and each shares what we call an Honest Moment.  They’ve lived a bit, know life gets complicated, and are real people.  And so importantly — they are nice!  Most are service providers, some are media types or bloggers.   We are loving our Pros, and they love helping.  We’re having a blast.

Are there any planned additions to the service that you can speak of now?

Lots planned, some I can talk about, some not.  We have some gems hidden in the experience and we want to bring them forward, and also lose a bit of the friction of on-boarding.  We kept our service closed for a long time, to learn the core dynamic and establish a core quality level.  We are about “honest questions deserve honest answers” — and core to this experience is that we help people ask lots of great questions.

We will be opening it up through social tools but have been deliberate in design so our members can retain that control over who they’re sharing with.  So they need to feel safe, but when the feel delight and feel compelled to express and share that delight, we want them to do it effortlessly.

Have you heard of Compassion Pit? ( It’s a community of anonymous venters and listeners meant to mediate conversations between people seeking advice or even just sympathy. What are your thoughts on other services such as this one that attempt similar goals as Honestly, Now? What makes Honestly, Now unique and/or more reliable?

I was initially inspired to create Honestly Now when I lost my mother.  I learned that no one loves you unconditionally like a parent, and there are certain things you need to know about yourself that only your mother will tell you.  It’s truth, plus love.  Joining with my partner Bob, we built an experience that would approximate that — give you truth from your friends (because their vote is anonymous), plus real, informed and respectful advice from really excellent people.  It is snark-free, because the worst anyone can do is vote “no”.  We have a no-tolerance policy for malice.  Our goal is to help you make great choices, and become a better version of yourself.  Each question is structured as Multiple Choice or Yes/No, and includes a picture of your choosing, to enrich the question.  So for the answerers, it’s great fun to be helpful.  We find our members and Pros take it very seriously.  And we’re proud of that.  We are poised to scale and we seek to do so while maintaining this quality of experience.

I had not heard of Compassion Pit before you brought them up, but did take a look.  They seem to come from a really honest place, and I think that’s wonderful. They are serving a very real but subtly different need — to be listened to, in an open-ended way, and the web can help with that.  Honestly Now today gets at part of that, but really where we excel is in giving great tailored advice in an accelerated way.  Honestly Now is like a cocktail party among a group of friends, one glass of wine in.  Compassion Pit seems like an open-ended conversation over a cup of tea with a trustworthy stranger.  And that’s cool too.  Just different.

Startup Perspectives

This feature is a look at growing startup companies from the perspectives of the experts at Fusionapps. We spend a bulk of time getting invested in a product to give you our analysis on their progression and what we think they need to do in their continued iterations.

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