Hayden Williams and Paul Ostetinsky met in school, where they shared a bunk-bed as roommates at Vanderbilt college.
After graduation, they both went into finance, scoring lucrative jobs on Wall Street. But neither found investment banking fulfilling, despite the new BMWs or marble countertops they could now afford.
Williams and Ostetinsky wanted to explore other career options, but they really only had other finance people in their networks to talk to. There was no easy way to meet other professionals in real life for casual conversations about their jobs. So they decided to build one.
In 2012, they both quit their jobs. Ten years from when they first became best friends, the two were back in bunk-beds again, cramming into a tiny New York City apartment. Instead of wasting money on a coworking space, they became Friends of the New York University library and started building a company from scratch while surrounded by college students (who Williams swears he catches giving them passive-aggressive looks).
And so Treatings began. The startup’s tagline is “meet inspiring people over coffee” and it aims to help people connect with others willing to talk about their careers in real life. Users who sign-up list their professional interests and a selection of coffee shops where they’d be willing to meet. Then, they can scroll through the profiles of people with similar interests.
“What we’re doing is all about context,” Williams says. “Everyone you find on Treatings is on there to meet new people.”
LinkedIn is good at connecting with professionals you know. Networking events are great for meeting like-minded people in big groups. Treatings combines aspects of both to allow one-on-one professional connections to blossom in real life.
Williams and Ostetinsky knew next to nothing about building a technology company, so they started teaching themselves everything. Treatings was desktop-only until last Wednesday, when the founders launched their first app. The friends completely bootstrapped their efforts — burning through their ample savings from their investment banking days — until earlier this year when nailed down $US250,000 in angel investment. They’re going to use the money to hire their first outside employee to help make Treatings’ iPhone app even better.
Williams says that the process has been filled with the highest-highs — like when an early Treatings users scored a job at Deutsche Bank thanks to a connection made through the site. And of course the the lowest-lows, too — besides the all the struggles you’d imagine would come from sleeping in a bunk bed in your late-20s with a friend you spend nearly all day with, they got hit hard last summer when a developer they had spent months vetting ended up deciding not to leave his old job.
Right now, they’re focused on growing the community (which has 6,000 members so far). Although Treatings doesn’t make any revenue yet (which Williams jokes makes tax season incredibly easy), they plan to monetise by forming partnerships with organisations that want to connect their members for mutually beneficial coffee meetings.
There’s still a lot of work ahead, but Williams’ life is a lot less glamorous than it used to be, but he wouldn’t go back.
“The time is perfect for an app like this,” he says. “People are ready to go online to message strangers to meet offline. They’re more and more used to using technology to expand their social network, so it seemed like the time was right for the professional equivalent. “
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