When I was eleven years old, I learned how to make websites. When I was twelve I created a mafia game (For a similar example, see Omerta). Creating this game, and playing other games myself, took most of my free time. I was hooked. Addicted. Hard to separate from my computer. It was an amazing experience to create and maintain a mafia game for a couple hundred daily active users for over ten years, but it was also very stressfull at times, and the ethic side doubtful. One the one hand, I had created a wonderful playground for young kids to compete, learn and socialize online. At first, this made me very happy. But then I discovered the dark side. Some kids were burning their parents money and others were playing over 8 hours a day on average. This made me very unhappy, but I couldn't just pull the plug. This made me depressed for a while. I quit a few years later.
Twelve years after I learned how to make websites, after finishing my bachelors in Artificial Intelligence, I traveled the world for 6 months. Weeks went without screens.. It made me less of a nerd, way more social, and also incredibly happy. What did I really want? After traveling, I decided I wanted to make an app that bring people together. Away from their screens. Because this had made ME so much happier too.
For about six months, I burned through all my money while working full time on my first attempt: Communify. In hindsight, many things went wrong. It was over developed, complex and had no good business model. What was even worse, is that it took away some of the business of the clients I was hoping to sell it to: the Coworking Space. The Coworkers loved the idea, but the coworking space hated it. Too bad. I had failed. As a result, I had an existential crisis that lasted two months.
About 10 months after failing and one regular office job later, I decided to move to Amsterdam, learn more about startups, and try again. I love the vibe in the startup scene. I learned a lot really quickly. Even had two startup jobs at the same time. Read almost a dozen of books about startups. Also, I've read Deep Work, Digital Minimalism and became very much inspired by Humane Tech. Also, I read a lot about relationships (Robin Dunbar, Catherine Price, Susan Pinker, and more). These books have all inspired me so much, I came up with the next attempt...
This time I came up with FriendTime. A completely different approach for the same goal: bringing people together. When entering a new environment, it can be a challenge to make friends, and certainly the right ones, and meaningful ones. Also, I noticed that I had made hundreds of 'friends' in my life, but had very few active ones. Most of my friendships were very low-level.
Professionally, it was hard to remember all professional connections I made in a short time. It all become a lot, really quickly. Email. Slack Channels. Whatsapp. LinkedIn. My professional contacts are everywhere, except where I really want them: On events, so we can actually talk IRL. Consequently, I made dozens of new connections in a couple of months but it didn't have a big impact because they were all very low-level connections. The ones I wanted to keep in touch with, got burried under hunreds of other connections on LinkedIn, or below hundreds of e-mails. Why is this so hard!?
In March of this year I started working on FriendTime. It's my best attempt on solving all these problems (and even a few more).