Gary Krane, PhD, and his team of five people, have launched CoupleWise, a site and soon to be created mobile app that empowers couples to create stronger and happier face-to-face relationships. He notes that working on and managing love is an essential part of what it is to be happy as individuals and that his affects our society. We thought it would be interesting to hear what Krane had to say about what’s behind his startup.
How long have you been involved with the internet? What were your first steps?
I bought my first domain names back in the late 90s to do something with my book, Simple Fun for Busy People, in order to put it online. The book was the first effort ever to crowdsource games from the general public that would be free, easy, and original – to help my fellow workaholic Americans, particularly couples with or without kids, to have more fun, despite lack of time or money.
What time do you usually start work each day?
8 or 8:30 AM. I start checking email and work until midnight and sometimes much later.
Do you have an office or work at home?
Starbucks is my main office… the various ones throughout Manhattan, since each has its own character and the music is always great. That way there’s no overhead and no hurting the planet with AC, which Starbucks can also well afford to cover. Also, in Manhattan I always meet at least one really interesting person, often relevant to my work. In terms of “office,” my head designer is in Chile (where I just finished our 6 month incubator stint with Start-up Chile. I loved Start-up Chile and my two engineers are in California and Poland respectively, and my marketing team is in Chicago and NYC.
What’s the first thing you do when you leave the office at the end of the day?
I go home to continue working, which I try to do on an Elliptical(which I use to walk at least 2-3 more miles in addition to the 2 mile walk living in the wonderfully careless NYC), in the gym in my building. Occasionally, I stop to do about 6 different upper body exercises
When do your best ideas come to you?
Almost always in the shower or while meditating sitting in a chair. I consider the shower a form of meditating and I only wish I did the sitting meditation much more often. Of course now I am starting to get great ideas from users, and would love to hear from other Ruby engineers and UI designers who love the challenge of helping us make our space feel more like a journey of discovery than work, like honoring and celebrating one’s relationship, than working on it.
We want to know about where you spend your day! What’s on your desk right now?
I am at Starbucks on 35th and 7th Avenue, having just met with a top games designer and successful CEO, whose wife might also want to help in usability and fundraising. I just have my laptop on my Starbucks desk, and just finished writing several leads to people who I hope will help me recruit another Ruby (senior ideally) engineer wanting to be CTO.
Do you have a favorite movie?
My favorite films are those that inspire us to fight injustice, since my main purpose in life is to do the greatest good for the greatest number. So movies like Norma Rae, Karen Silkwood, Erin Brockovich, Good Night and Good Luck, Inherit The Wind.
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually put your life on hold and realize yours?
Well, most things that I have started, I have succeeded at, especially my career as an entrepreneur /independent investigative documentary filmmaker. I’m realizing this idea because of the logic and obvious need for a service that is easily affordable that can help couples succeed, especially since at least 50% after the 2nd year are unhappy. The loss or poor management of love is such a huge source of pain in our society. It’s almost totally ignored by modern technology which is being applied to less important matters. After all, in the final analysis, once you are making enough to cover your basic needs, the main predictor of happiness is how well you love and are loved by those closest to you.
“The loss or poor management of love is such a huge source of pain in our society. It’s almost totally ignored by modern technology which is being applied to less important matters. After all, in the final analysis, once you are making enough to cover your basic needs, the main predictor of happiness is how well you love and are loved by those closest to you.”
– Gary Krane, PhD and Founder of CoupleWise
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get their business off the ground?
- Learn programming,
- If you refuse to learn programming, learn the art of finding the right engineer (it is much like finding the right mate) and I’ve made almost every mistake in this regard one can make, which is why this has taken me so long.
- Get two great business mentors.
- Get a good tech advisor to be sure you’ve chosen the right engineer, who will check the code weekly, and always have two engineers, never rely on only one
- Start relationships with possible partners as soon as you can by finding out what they need, what they would want to help their business
- Talk to consumers as much as possible to find out what they ideally would want in your proposed invention, and what they dislike about your alpha. Use paper versions initially to save on cost and time.
- I could go on…
Who has been your biggest cheerleader throughout this process?
Kevin, my mentor in the Bay area, and VP of Product Development and Liz O’Mara, and my marriage research expert Dr. Elizabeth Schmitz.
Do you have any regrets?
Maybe that I didn’t spend my first two years learning Ruby.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
I see it as the Ben and Jerry’s, StonyField Yogurt, or the Creedo Mobile version of Match.com, but to help couples succeed, as opposed to helping singles find mates. In other words having a strong social conscience that’s for real, not just words since the economic injustice in the world, (Greed), is arguably one of the main stresses on marriage, committed relationships, and family.
I think and hope Arianna Huffington is right when she predicts that every major company within the next 5 years will need to be identified with a social value cause.
Where can our readers get ahold of you?
Twitter, Facebook, and email: Gary [at] CoupleWise.com (but have a clear, punchy subject box hook please) Also, you can read an article on my journey and how I got started from the pain of my own divorce titled “My Journey” on my blog.
What else would you like to tell our readers about CoupleWise?
CoupleWise is still in beta and hence free. But as soon as we fix some bugs, we plan to start charging $7.95/mo and to increase the price as more couple help tools are added. We plan to add a tool we call “Make Agreements” any day now, followed by one to help mates listen more deeply to each other and thereby resolve conflicts more compassionately, (at which point the price could go up to $19.95/mo). However, since we crave as much critical feedback as possible, for every three feedbacks we get (via our feedback tab), we will give that user 6 months free subscription (one year max.)
“Isn’t keeping love worth as much as finding it, and lots more, if you have kids?” – Gary Krane
Something Special For KillerStartups Readers
Speaking of contact and users: Any users who sign up now, (before the end of June 2012) and give us 3 feedbacks we can use, will get 6 months for free and one additional month for each usable feedback up to one year ($149 value). However, they need to also send me an email at Gary [at] CoupleWise.com confirming they signed up and under what email address.
For those of you without a mate, Krane is always quick to add: “Try it out with your colleagues! Other than sex, everything you might want to have a great relationship with your mate, you probably want and need to have a great colleague-colleague relationship, and vice versa, especially if you’re in a startup, since that is so much like a marriage. In fact, maybe every angel should require startup teams to use CoupleWise.”