Natasha Wynarczyk spoke to the founder of website HeTexted, Lisa Winning, ahead of International Women's Day on Friday
With technology a constant presence in our lives and more people communicating over text than ever, it can be even more difficult to work out whether or not that somebody you like fancies you back.
Thankfully, help is here in the form of HeTexted - a site which effectively allows you to crowdsource whether or not to make a move.
You upload a text from somebody you're dating and users can vote on whether or not he's into you, not into you or if the verdict is out. You can also ask a resident 'bro' directly for some advice from a man's perspective.
And it goes without mentioning that reading all the texts people send in is strangely addictive - and sometimes a bit hilarious too!
I caught up with founder Lisa Winning, 29, who set up the site four months ago, to find out more.
Hi Lisa. So can you tell me how HeTexted came about? I was working at Quintessentially and had this crazy idea that my female friends were always talking about dating and relationships and getting texts from guys and being like ‘Oh my god, what does this mean?' They always wanted to talk about what was going on from every single angle and there was nothing out there that really spoke to that and provided a real time solution. It started from just building a platform from my girlfriends dating and relationship questions.
How did the site grow? On the day we launched we had 200,000 people on the site. Initially we were having having 46 users the week before which was people like my mum and my girlfriends - it went from being tiny to exploding over night and that was two months ago. We've now got a couple of book deals - in the UK we’re with Random House and in the US we’re with Simon & Schuster who is actually the same publishers who did He’s Just Not That Into You. It's been amazing.
Is it profitable? At the moment we’re looking at building a broader media platform along with the books and the TV series, as well as a potential movie. We also do a premium paid advice service, 'Ask a Bro' and funnily enough it's by far the busiest part of the site. It works almost like an advice network where these girls are just sending in diatribes, literally essay long questions, about their love life. It’s really quite astonishing.
What kind of feedback have you had? It’s been mixed, to tell you the truth. In terms of the press we’ve received we've had people saying it’s really innovative and it’s a fresh take on advice, but other outlets say we’ve put the women’s movement back. The site is what it is, it represents the behaviour of my female friends. They have great careers and they still want to obsess over these crazy dating questions. I think it’s just honest rather than anything else.
Do you think the craze for crowdsourcing has helped with the site's popularity? Absolutely, it’s been helpful. But honestly the real reason we’ve grown so quickly is there’s a universal need out there. I used to live in the Middle East and I’m from Sydney and have been living in London for quite a while as well and it's so common for women to really want to talk about dating and relationships. Along with it being helped by this moment in pop culture and more people crowd sourcing I think it speaks to this human need.
Tell me about your role in the Women: Inspiration & Enterprise (WIE) Symposium on Friday? We’re incredibly excited to be participating at the WIE Symposium. There aren't that many young women in technology, and fundraising is hard so I guess when you compound this with self doubt and the fact that it’s quite tricky to go out there and raise quite a large amount of money it can be difficult to start something up. I think what WIE have really done is highlighted all the issues that young female entrepreneurs are going through and they've also provided a great network and a huge amount of information and resources. I guess I should add that only a few months ago I was volunteering for the last WIE as a way to meet female venture capitalists and find out more.
What kind of advice do you give to women starting out in technology? We met with a girl last night who’s about to start fundraising for her technology set up and she was telling me all the weaknesses they've had and all the reasons people haven't wanted to back them. You really have to pitch it hard and focus less on areas where you feel you fall short. Without being too clichéd you really just have to go for it because there are so many opportunities out there.
Lisa will be speaking at the WIE Symposium this Friday, March 8 at London's Hospital Club, as part of International Women's Day. The event will see other influential female and male speakers, including David Gandy, Martha Lane Fox and Lady Lynn de Rothschild. Tickets cost £250 and are available here.
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