Recognizing the connective power of the internet, a psychologist created an online emotional support system to help others
Psychologist Glen Moriarty got the idea for his business after realizing that so many people in the world need to talk to someone about their problems, but either couldn’t afford therapy or were intimidated by the idea of doing so in person. So Moriarty decided to create an “emotional support system for the internet,” and in June 2013 was accepted into a startup program by the Silicon Valley firm Y Combinator. After a three-month tutorial and early-stage funding that raised just over $1 million from angel investors, the result was 7 Cups of Tea, a website that connects a network of 43,000 volunteer “listeners” with members in 150 countries, including the U.S., UK, Mexico, Brazil, India and the United Arab Emirates.
The listeners, who provide anonymous support to the users on a 24/7 basis, are required to complete an online course to help them develop “advanced listening skills.” Advanced listeners build credibility with a point system similar to the feedback ratings on sites like eBay. The company recently released an iPhone app and has an Android one on the way in the near future.
Moriarty talked to The Venture about his motivation in starting the site and what keeps him going.
“I was thinking about offline behavior that hasn’t moved online. Dating is an example of that. A universal need is to talk to somebody. If something bad happens to you, what’s the first thing you usually want to do? You want to talk to somebody. If you could talk to a friend about it, you’d feel better, right?
My wife’s a therapist and I was doing this research and talking about an entrepreneurial problem and talking to her about it and I felt better. And I thought, what do people do who don’t have a therapist in their family? It struck me, this is the offline behavior that hasn’t yet been online that we should put online. Listening, as a service, should be available for people.”
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