A last-minute trip to drop my wife off at her internship in October 2013 led to the brightest idea I’ve had so far as an entreprener. Here’s how it went.
Me: Why on earth would a psychologist practice in this area? Its such a pain to get here!
Her: Exactly why. “People” don’t want “people” to know that they are seeing a psychologist. They feel safer coming here, instead of a nice, popular location.
Me: But what if they meet someone inside the clinic?
Her: They may, but then they are both there for the same thing. So I guess it evens out.
Me: That sucks, why are you doing this?
Her: It’s great, I’m learning a lot.
Me: No, I mean, why are you doing this when it’s discomforting and inconvenient for the people you guys are helping? Why not create an online platform that’s anonymous and easy? Where nobody sees nobody.
Her: That would be great. But I don’t want to do business.
Me: I do. Actually, maybe I will.
And this idea stayed with me for a year. I thought about it so many times. We discussed it over and over, but guess what? I did nothing about it. I just let it sit out there in some hidden corner of my mind. After all, when did I ever have dearth of ideas?
But this one was different.
It didn’t leave. It kept coming back, stronger. Sometimes taking me back to my childhood, making me wonder if I would have turned out any differently if I had help through the not-so-great times. Would it have eased peer pressure or the pain of not making it to IIT? Could it have helped save the first relationship away from home? Or the struggle and loneliness that followed it? Perhaps helped with the grief of losing a father-like figure?
I still don’t know if it would have. But I felt the need to do this.
I started reading about counseling and I found it so fascinating that, had it been a few years earlier, I would have studied psychology and not engineering. Oh well. There was still a way to do this.
I finally talked about it to two of my closest friends. One of them loved it. The other one said it wasn’t bad—perhaps because he had heard many ideas from me earlier. The one who loved it, said I’ll help you with this. We started with meeting well-known psychologists to get their thoughts on the model I was proposing—an instant and anonymous platform for people to connect with professional counselors over chat and phone.
Here’s what we got:
“Good idea, but counseling needs to be face to face. Non verbal cues are important.”
“You can’t help people over phone and chat. You can only create awareness and motivate them to see a counselor.”
“Maybe helpful for basic stuff. Not for anything significant.”
“How will you handle disorders?”
It was great food for thought. Through the contours of what we couldn’t do, what we could became clearer. A few RTI applications and legal frameworks later, Dial My Angel was incorporated.