Sometimes, you just need to vent.
For K. (we’re omitting her name to protect her privacy), August 2016 was the moment she needed a listener the most. She had a lot on her plate: problems on her job and financial issues conflicting with her desire to support her husband going back to school. A therapist herself, she found herself in a situation where a friendly listener – more than professional help – might make a difference.
So she picked up her phone, called her brother and shared her concerns. In September 2017, around a year later, her brother launched Wannavent, a Boston-based startup that allows people to do exactly what K. did: talk about personal issues over the phone to a listener. Unlike K., Wannavent customers pay for the privilege to vent and share their concerns with a complete stranger.
The anonymity of the service is a point that founder and CEO Drew Peirce emphasizes. As he wrote, he claims that it’s important for his business that he maintains anonymity because “a natural part of the human brain is its ability to create a picture of something or someone that you’re comfortable with” and he feels that if his clients could picture his face, the effectiveness of the service, the ability to vent blindly, would be tainted (It’s important to note that Peirce is an alias that Drew uses; he provided BostInno with his real name).
In an interview, Peirce made it clear that none of the four listeners who are part of the Wannavent network are professional therapists, but three out of four studied psychology in college and didn’t get into the field. Instead, the fact that they’re not providing professional advice is one of the big selling points of Wannavent, according to Peirce.
“We’re going to be more your average Joe listeners.”
“We’re going to be more your average Joe listeners,” Pierce said. “[They] really share the same frustrations as you, in most cases, and really can be there as a collaboration.”
Customers book their session online and select the time they want to be contacted. Prices depend on the length of the call and range from $9.99 for a 10-minute session to $39.99 for a 30-minute session. When the time comes, the company calls the customer.
Pierce said that it’s mostly individuals who are in the 20 to 35 years range who want to speak. In term of topics, standard frustrating days, relationships, friends, family, sexuality, anger issues and finances are often brought up.
“People actually just want to talk about life,” Pierce said. “What’s the meaning of life? Where should I go? My career aspirations, my personal goals… Those are the main topics that people reference.”
“People actually just want to talk about life.”
In the three months the completely bootstrapped business has been operating, Peirce said that Wannavent had 152 customers and made a little over $5,000 in revenue.