“I met my co-founder, Nora Draper, somewhere, probably. A few years later, she came over to my apartment for dinner. We spoke about places to live. She described the Brooklyn Heights she was born in, where the waitress from the downstairs restaurant was her babysitter, and the landlord delivered freshly brewed coffee. She described Middlebury, Vermont, the place she grew up, where people exchanged piano lessons for jars of honey. She missed that sense of neighborhood.
I keep a book of ideas. It’s mostly diagrams, disconnected words, and people I’ve met. I showed it to Nora. She thought it was funny that I did that. I showed it to her because I had met this guy Jesse, who’s in urban planning, and he introduced me to these start-ups that are revitalizing the neighborhood concept in cities like New York. I wanted to tell her their names. Nora asked me if I had any start-up ideas of my own in the book. I said one, only to realize I was describing the US postal service. Another was “AirBnB for talent.” I guess that's an abstract way to say freelance labor, but the base case was that I wanted someone to read me a research paper while I walked to East Rock for the price of a coffee. Nora slowly finished her rice. Then she said, ‘So like a task app but for super specific or creative tasks. I like that. Let's do it.’
Technology affects how we view ourselves and our connection to others. We wanted whatever we did to strengthen both. As to ourselves, especially because technology gives us access to the whole world, I think people feel incapable in comparison, less confident, like they can’t do anything, and as if to do something they need a resume of evidence. This would let people do for others. Because I think those acts multiply – along with one’s sense of self-efficacy. As to our connection to others, it would be built around communities. It would connect you to the people in your same building, sitting at the same coffee shops, sharing the same sidewalks, friends of friends of friends. It would be like the Brooklyn Nora remembered, where help was close and people were known.
When we started, Nora’s first instinct was to document our conversation, research funding, and sketch her vision of the UI. Mine was to make a powerpoint of our values. I’m thankful for her, mainly.” – Kiran Sampath