Q&A With Miror Founder Cassie Guerin
Tell me about the moment that sparked the idea for your product?
I had been working in tech economic development for a couple years and was meeting all these incredible women. My experience felt very male-dominated and so I wanted to bring a few of these women together. I started hosting these get-togethers at my house that led to new connections — even including new hires among the group! When the pandemic hit, I started hosting them on Zoom. People were making real connections through having a space to share where they were at emotionally. Other people in the group were able to relate — there were so many ‘me too’s!’ (Hence — Miror… People were consciously seeing themselves in others’ stories.)
What I really think was the spark — was seeing that being vulnerable and putting myself out there had been the catalyst for creating something meaningful. I was VERY nervous to send out that first email and feared rejection from the women I respected most. When I received their supportive responses and over 20 women showed up at my apartment for the first gathering in 2019, I knew this was something I wanted to keep doing.
How did you explore creating it?
When I first thought about creating this space for connection, I had originally seen it as a physical space — something like a gym for mind, body, spirit fitness. Or a place of worship without religion and with the founding values of peace, love, forgiveness, etc… However, when the pandemic started, I knew the timing wasn’t right for a physical space, but I also didn’t want to wait. I felt all the more needed for more connection! So I started exploring how to create a virtual world for real connection.
As soon as you enter social media and networking, it’s like we all warp into these different personalities — ones to present. I believe it’s possible to open your phone or laptop and still be yourself. But, we need companies who build their platform with this as the founding intention. Not on what gets the most likes, shares, or eyeballs for ads.
By now we all know that social media is negatively impacting our mental health. Yet, we’re addicted… because toxic or not, it’s some form of connection to others.
Miror is all about building an alternative option. We are using a similar form, but without the toxicity. Miror is replacing that with an emphasis of self-discovery and mandatory community agreements.
Why are you the best person to champion this product?
The formal answer would be I started my career in impact investing and then moved to tech economic development working in the startup space. In parallel I trained and taught yoga and meditation (and have a personal morning practice that I’ve kept for the past five years), and I attend therapy biweekly (and think I have the best therapist!) My work has been intersecting between self-growth and tech; and I’m interested in closing the gap between the two.
The more truthful answer is I think creating Miror is a response to something I have desired all my life — a place for seekers to find each other and connect.
Growing up I was ‘othered’ by people. ‘That’s a Cassie thing’ or ‘well, that’s because you’re different.’ It wasn’t until my 20’s that I started to take ownership of my curiosity and inclination to question the status quo. I’ve learned this can make some people feel nervous… and throw it back on ‘you’, instead of also getting curious. Or as Carl Jung would say, “Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.”
I am a seeker and want to find more seekers and build a community of us. It can be lonely when you feel like those around you are all on the merry-go-round to nowhere. Building Miror is my process of transforming the personal into the collective.
What were some aspects of the processes that surprised you?
I am continually surprised by how supportive folks have been here. As many close to me would know — I had been planning to move to the Bay Area where I have family and would start grad school for Clinical Counseling Psychology. However, the continual support of the Pittsburgh community, and being accepted into AlphaLab, made me realize I want to stay here for the time being.
How did you make sure your product was a reflection of your target audience’s needs?
This is an on-going process. I am always learning more about what our audience wants. Originally, I set out really focused on how the product can meet the member’s needs, but in the process, I realized that facilitators are also a type of customer, and ones that have a lot of needs. Pretty much every single therapist I have talked to is frustrated that they have no ability to be creative in their licensed roles or upward mobility in their roles. Being able to reach people in a different format is really exciting to them. Like everyone, they too, want to have more self-growth and feel this is a way to extend their talents in a more flexible way. So learning how to make the platform more desirable for the Therapists of Instagram Influencing has been really interesting, and unexpected.
How does AlphaLab help you reach your goals?
Just being a part of AlphaLab in and of itself has been so helpful because it brings with it an incredible community of advisors, mentors, and other inspiring founders.
Before Miror, I felt nervous to take bigger steps like find a co-founder or take on an investor. With AlphaLab behind Miror, I feel more confident to grow the company because I know they won’t let me do something stupid or screw over the company!
Specifically, they are helping me with timeline, marketing, and developing a business model that can shift to a membership-based platform… so they’re helping me with everything!
What is next? How is this different than what already offered?
So imagine ClassPass for mental health. And we use the word ‘mental health’ to encompass the way that our culture and society affects our happiness. We recognize that the shape, color, ability, and sexual orientation of your body can impact your experience of happiness. It’s not just ‘mental health.’
I want Miror to be a way to pick up your phone and engage with others in a way that makes you feel energized through connection. You are not listening or mindlessly scrolling, you are actively shaping the conversation on the topic that is impacting your life most right now. With a membership, you can attend Gatherings every month, you can have a profile about you, and connect with members across the platform. The starting place at Miror is what you are working on in yourself NOT your last vacation picture or meal… though I do love a good food pic.
Right now Miror offers series of Gatherings or one-time gatherings. We are currently working on developing Miror into a membership model.
Are there any FAQ’s that you would like to address now?
Gatherings at Miror are NOT therapy.
All of Miror’s Gatherings are facilitator-led with a limit of 12 attendees so that there is space for each person to contribute to the conversation.
While most of our facilitators are licensed therapists, it is not a requirement. At Miror, we recognize the privilege of being able to attain licensure (which requires a Master’s Degree and thousands of hours of clinical experience), and we believe that there are additional modalities to healing… and that with the state of our collective mental health, we should consider them.
What is the most important thing for readers to know about what Miror does and how that’s beneficial to users?
Miror helps people connect with others who are going through a similar life situation.
We are first and foremost a social networking platform, and our foundation for making connections is based in authenticity and vulnerability — coming as you are, flawed and all, to your social media platform. Gasp! It’s not about armouring up and creating your *ideal* self in photos. WE KNOW IT’S NOT REAL! Sometimes life is hard. We miscarry, we divorce, we lose our parents. We heal when we connect to ourselves, others, and the collective. While current forms of social media may lead us to believe otherwise, we are never alone. Miror wants to help remember that.
How can consumers follow you?
You can follow us on Instagram and you can go to our website to sign-up for our newsletter.
Outside of work, what do you like to do in your free time?
I love to spend time in the City Parks and nearby State Parks — especially Frick — that’s my happy place. Spending time in nature helps me reconnect to myself and everything around me. When I am in a place that allows me to, I love to surf. I LOVE bringing my favorite people together and watching them become friends, and sometimes even colleagues.