Recently we had an opportunity to speak with Phil Carter, the Founder at Empath Labs about Empath
Please share with us the backstory of what motivated you to create this app.
A couple years ago, I noticed a proliferation in anonymous social apps like YikYak, Whisper, and Secret. While many people were attempting to use these apps to open up and be vulnerable, the apps were not fundamentally built for this use case. As a result, people often felt bullied and abused, and both YikYak and Secret ultimately shutdown due to poor user retention.
I believed anonymity could be used for a far more compelling product and set out to build Empath: The world's first emotional social network.
What features do you hope to roll out to your app in the future?
Eventually, we hope wearable technology evolves to the point where Empath no longer requires manual entry of emotions, and users can instead log and monitor their emotions passively. Once that happens, Empath has the potential to grow beyond the world's first emotional social network into the emotional home screen, opening up the potential for a whole new set of use cases:
-Emotional tracking with recommendations for how to live a happier life (Fitbit for Feelings)
-Emotional graph that summarizes how users feel about any topic, in any place, at any time
-Emotional API that links to other software and hardware platforms, creating custom experiences based on a user's emotions (e.g., Spotify playlists that adapt to your mood)
What has been the most rewarding aspect of the creation of this app?
While Empath has been live for less than two years, it's been incredible to see the number of deeply vulnerable posts that users have been willing to share and the profound support they receive from the Empath community. While other anonymous apps have tended to bring out the worst in people, Empath brings out the best.
What is the coolest or most innovative feature of your app?
Empath's Community feature provides a map view that lets every user on the app see how every other user is feeling across the world. Since every post on Empath is a color-coded emotion, users can quickly identify emotional patterns and trends over time. For instance, during the week that Donald Trump was elected president last year, the average percentage of posts related to Fear (one of Empath's six primary emotions) rose from 9% to 48%.
We are building a feature that will allow users to filter posts by keyword and location, making it easier than ever for people going through similar life experiences to empathize with one another, whether they are high schoolers struggling with depression, military vets suffering from PTSD, or new parents coping with all the change that comes from having a first child.
What surprised you most in your journey to create this app?
I've been surprised by how excited people have been to work on the app and how easy it's been to raise funding from investors. Our lead angel investor is the former Head of Product at Uber, who made a five figure investment after a 60 minute phone call.
The company's mission, and the product we've built to support that mission, resonates with people on a fundamental level. That's been an incredible competitive advantage.
Which other mobile apps or technology have inspired you?
My favorite app is Instagram. The product is so simple and elegant, built around photos as its atomic unit, and yet the possibilities created by those photos are infinite. In other words, the whole of the Instagram community is much greater than the sum of its parts.
With Empath, I've set out to do the same thing for emotions that Instagram has done with photos. Every post is a single color-coded emotion - a concept that is simple enough for any user to pick up and understand in a few seconds. Yet when you build an entire community of users sharing their emotions, the possibilities are exciting to imagine.
Do you have any recommendations or advice for others wanting to create a mobile app?
Find an idea you love. Launch it in its simplest possible form. And keep iterating on it until you can find enough people who love it as much as you do : )
How did you decide which platforms to release your app on and do you plan on releasing your app to other platforms?
Today, Empath only exists on iPhone. Given our limited resources, we made the decision to start there for pragmatic reasons - it's a simple but broadly available platform that allows us to iterate quickly and learn from our early adopters until we've clearly established product/market fit.
This year, we plan to release Empath on Android, as well as multiple smartwatch platforms.
How is your app different than the rest of the market? Which unique need does it fill?
Empath is the first app that provides a safe and supportive community for authentic emotional expression and connection. Empathy is a fundamental part of what makes us human beings, and Empath gives everyone greater access to empathy by connecting people who are going through similar ups and downs in life and allowing them to share their feelings with each other.
Empath is able to deliver this experience in a way no other social app can for three reasons:
-Every post on Empath is an emotion, so the community revolves around feelings
-When another user responds to your post on Empath, the app creates a private 1:1 conversation rather than an open forum that can unintentionally promote bullying an abuse
-While every post is anonymous, a user can choose to "Open Up" to anyone who likes her post, thereby revealing her identity and allowing for an open, non-anonymous conversation
You can view Empath here
For more information, visit: http://www.empathapp.com