Why does this exist? Why did you build this?

“Hey, can I pick your brain over a coffee? I’m buying.”

The function of this service is incredibly simple — nothing about it is particularly profound. Can-I-pick-your-brain is a meeting request that one gets more regularly as they see more success within their field of expertise.

This meeting usually last about 30 minutes and costs the curious mind anywhere from $5–12 depending on how fashionable the coffee establishment she or he chose. I’ve taken these meetings. I find them to be awkward and inefficient. It’s somewhat powered by the fact that I don’t care for small talk much, but more so that I’ve realized that the person across from me has applied their fair market value to me (2 coffees and 30–45 minutes) and really only has 1 or 2 questions on their mind regarding whatever it is they’re working on that they think I can help with.

The other thing that has really struck me is how many things need to line up for the meeting to even happen: be in the same geographic location, at the same time, same open availability, and both parties have the general social interest in meeting. An inefficient dance that could have all been done in 2–3 minutes — from anywhere in the world. Grabbing a quick coffee is simple…but not if you live in Paris and I live in Chicago.

There are other issues as well. If this person you want to have coffee with is as adept at their field as you have deemed them…they tend to be busy. Does the coffee you offered this person for their insight really compensate them for their hard earned experience? Even though most do it out of simple goodwill, myself included, it eventually lands very low on the given expert’s list of things to do because of all the inefficiencies listed above and at times, the opportunity cost.

Even if you agree with all this, you might simply say: “But what about email, phone, DMs, @’s, etc, etc? The internet has solved a lot of this!” That ultimately brings me to why this service exists.

Focus. It’s super simple: we believe a brutally simple Q&A service has value for both the asker and and the answerer. Texting revealed how inefficient 90% of our phone calls were. We think it’s the same for all of those coffees. Here, only one thing is happening on each end — you’re either asking or answering. Nothing else. As brutally efficient as possible. Not a social network, not a phone number, not LinkedIn — nothing that requires a connection to be made other than one’s admiration for another’s knowledge.

We have no idea how the general public will respond to this. There’s a lot we haven’t thought of that could be wrong with our approach. Like any head-in-the-clouds entrepreneur, we have some grand (delusional?) visions of what this might grow into. We think the human species advances by standing on the shoulders of the previous humans that went before them. That’s the process we’re trying to participate in. Via an incredibly simple, affordable, transactional, peer-to-peer service.

But for right now, it’s an interesting experiment, and that’s why we’re here.


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