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Boost – Your personal advisor and career coach (getboost.io)
173 points by neat0-ninj4 on May 18, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 109 comments

Roll eyes. I'm sorry but this is a ridiculous idea. I can see potential use for this once or twice a year, and even at that I wouldn't reach out to anyone unless I know them personally.

How insecure and in need of validation someone needs to be to seek career advice from a chatbot four times a month?

Hey! Founder & CEO here.

Love the emotional response. Hey -- some people have to think it's incredibly stupid for it to be a good idea, right? #vclogic ;)

Anyways, we don't see this as just an advisor/coach that you use once or twice a year. That's thinking by the old school rules of how career coaches work.

But Boost is very, very different.

The vast majority of our users use Boost to analyze internal workplace situations, such as those dealing with politics or trying to climb the ladder. Many users do this weekly, when they get new communications that confuse them and they want to ensure they put their best foot forward.

We started the company as an advice-giving system for those during job hunts, but found nearly everyone should have been talking to us 3-6 months before they were switching. Most people don't have online brands that exude quality, they don't land speaking engagements, they don't push themselves to hit goals, and much more.

The people who push, have constant feedback, and have social accountability end up achieving much more. They gain an edge over the people who only "need advice once or twice a year."

Tighter feedback loops = faster learning, which equates to faster career growth.


Oh, and it's not a chatbot. Think of it more like Facebook M -- we have a full-time staff of career coaches who ensure every conversation is of the absolute quality. As of right now our chatbot tech is exceedingly limited and we're prioritizing quality over scale.

This was years ago now, but I said the same thing about that "milliondollarwebsite.com" (or something like that?), that sold pixels as advertising space on a single pahe. "What a bloody stupid idea" I said, and said to my flat mates at the time, that if it makes the money I'll run round the block naked.

Fast forward a year or so later, I got sent a link (by my now old flatmate) to a BBC article saying they'd made their million bucks. So, we got together, drank -a lot in my case - and all I remember is much hilarity and that it was a cold night that night.

The milliondollarwebsite idea was a much more stupid idea than OP. In fact, OP should probably add more stupidity, to increase success probability. I'm only half-kidding.

Only half-kidding you say?!

:) - legit curious what you mean by that.

add stupidity: anonymize user data, and crowdsource career advice. use text analysis to figure out how career advice close to official Boost advice to build up a network of advisors ranked from conventional to unconventional. Users feedback on performance of idea, this allows you to identify users who are likely to be helped by unconventional career advice. If you have data on users employers over time you identify unconventional employers or perhaps toxic workplaces. Add higher paid tier for users to see employer ratings.

After this point the stupidity will dissolve into blah blah blah.

I'm convinced that we enjoy and even encourage stupidity as long as it is for something frivolous, like a website for selling pixels. Or a website that ships messages on potatoes, or sends glitter filled envelopes to people.

We don't see our career as frivolous. I doubt people will tolerate stupidity in this case.

I think the idea isn't bad. There are people who want to mentor and people who are in need of mentors, makes sense.

However, I have two main questions:

Does having a person to talk to offer a compelling alternative to a blog post/book etc. that emphasizes the things you just mentioned: "brand that exudes quality, land speaking engagements, push to hit goals" etc. ?

The second question is: what about people who already do that? Will this be mainly geared towards entry level folks looking to go from mediocre jobs to good jobs? What do you have that would entice someone like me (happy with my current job, well paid, an online brand to some degree, does speaking/open source)? Perhaps I am not the target customer?

Hey there runT1ME!

If you look at people who tend to say they're going to do something vs actually do it, the #1 signal is social support and encouragement.

For many, their networks aren't doing these things either. Boost can be that encouragement and constant feedback mechanism to stay the path and make the changes.

For people who already take a lot of these actions... surprisingly, they are using the product as well. Often they'll say "I always want a 2nd opinion on everything I do, but I worry about annoying my friends constantly."

The top performers in the world all have executive coaches. The President (eek, perhaps bad example) has numerous personal advisors. Feedback loops always help, and this is a way that everyone can have that... 1 message away.

What do you think about providing performance coaching to whole teams at companies? Something like Wendy on the show Billions (a must watch) but very scalable, you gain more savory knowledge across industries, track market trends, become a valuable partner at big corps.

Also how valuable would you say this tech is for people that are going about things their own way, say new or future startup founders looking for advice and mentorship?

Hi there, I'm in need of some career advice. Is there a way to skip the free trial?

So you have a team of insulated Silicon Valley scalleywags that are going to help _me_ with my job in another reasonable part of the country? Unlikely. Cmon, we all know the bourgeois hipsters giving advice to normal people is like throwing a subway sandwich to ducks in a pond.

We are aware of bubbles and are proud to say we help people across many different industries and socio-economic statuses.

But what are you doing about your bubble? The bubble that colors your bias on what makes good career advice? That's what the parent was talking about and you talked straight past him. That doesn't bode well for your bot's performance!

I don't think this is the right format, but I do think computer-assisted political strategy is an interesting prospect. The problem with trusting other humans for political advice is that you can't know how much their own political ambitions play in, but the bot is really just once-removed from the people who made it, so the issue of human meddling is not entirely out of the picture. It would need to be very transparent, explicit, and clear to be trustworthy, and preferably highly tunable.

How are you ensuring that your bot is providing a valuable, localized analysis for the person asking for advice? If Boost tells me to do something that would get me promoted in California but fired in Boston, who's liable? What kind of cultural accounting is performed? Can I adjust it based on the political/cultural leanings and backgrounds of my subordinates, peers, and superiors?

Also, politics depends heavily on unpredictability. You almost need a reverse bot, telling you the worst solution, so that your political enemies don't accurately predict your moves and set traps. Does Boost have a "surprise" mode?

So first of all, this isn't a bot. I don't think a bot would be able to help with complex political situations very well.

As our customer, you're our sole focus. Your needs, desires, goals, etc. We succeed when you succeed, so I don't think it's valid logic to have to worry about what Boost is looking to get out of the advice.

>So first of all, this isn't a bot. I don't think a bot would be able to help with complex political situations very well.

Phew! That's actually a big relief. For the record, I wasn't just going off the commenter above who called this a "chatbot"; I also skimmed the site and saw a bunch of stuff about "advanced AI and Machine Learning", an IM interface that looks like the other new-wavey AI talk stuff, etc., so it all seemed to comport. You should definitely make it abundantly clear on the landing page that this is subscription access to real, human career counselors.

Now I have all the same questions about the backgrounds of these career counselors. :P What kind of vetting or training is done?

As non-computers, I think the situation is more complex; how can I ensure that one of the career counselors is not in league with a political enemy? If I spill my guts to this guy, what stops him from contacting my much richer, more powerful, more attractive boss and saying "Hey, Jim Bob just developed a crazy scheme to take you down, I'll give you the details for $DOLLARS_AMOUNT"? Just the belief that Boost is full of nice people who wouldn't want to do that?

Lawyers have to check to ensure that their firm doesn't also represent the opposing party before they can take a case because of the glaring conflict of interest. How can Boost ensure that myself and political opponent A are not artificially manipulated by Boost internal staff, sent into a feedback loop primarily designed to keep both of us subscribe to Boost as long as possible, instead of moving us up the power ladder to the point where we don't need it anymore? How do I ensure that my boss and myself don't end up being advised by the same career counselor, who would know both of our moves in advance, and who therefore couldn't possibly perform his functions in an effective manner for either of us?

While I think software-assisted politics is a much more interesting business model (not buzzwordy ML/AI BS, but a "political planner" or something to help evaluate and plan), I don't necessarily think that subscription access to human counselors is a bad idea. I just think that a lot goes into it, there are a lot of potential ramifications.

What's the typical use case/scenario for this? It seems like anything people would need advice on, it's risky to trust Boost. Everything else would be simplistic advice that everyone knows, but just doesn't want to do, like "Brush your hair better". Maybe they have specific grooming tips and point to a good hair gel?

> We succeed when you succeed, so I don't think it's valid > logic to have to worry about what Boost is looking to get > out of the advice.

That's the only political advice you need, right there. Everyone is interested in your success, so stop worrying. sarcasm

It's funny to see this business that specifically targets people insecure about their understanding of complex political situations and tells them worrying that I would act against your interest is illogical.

Why get advice when negotiating salary? My employer succeeds when I succeed, so concerning myself with whether they are shorting me must be illogical, right?

You talking about the 5 SF hobos that you paid to use your service?

This account has made countless violations of the HN guidelines. Since you haven't kept your promise to follow the rules of the site, we've rebanned it.

My gut reaction was the same as yours because I would personally never use a service like this.

That said, the existence of career consultants proves that there are people who do enjoy this sort of advice and direction. I don't see this becoming a unicorn startup, but I could see it becoming a niche service that some people really enjoy.

It's basically applied psychology right.. understanding motivations, your situation etc.. C level execs hire said consultants or have a psychologist on staff.

It's nice to see the democratize. Hopefully it can help people.

I think impostor syndrome can be a huge self imposed mental barrier for some software devs. Unsure on the right price point to help over come it.

It's a huge mental barrier for a lot of people... but can it overcome by talking to something you know is a bot?

Where does it say this is a bot? To me it looks like it's human coaches who use AI to quickly find answers. Maybe they're doing Facebook's approach of slowly replacing humans with bots, but for right now they seem to be human.

Edit: saw another comment by from Boost, they're doing Facebook's approach.

People are willing to accept talking to a rubber duck can be helpful, why not a bot?

Boost is _not_ a bot -- it's a team of AI-enhanced, real-life career coaches. Think Facebook's M.

Fortunately for this company not everyone is so self-important that they think an AI-enhanced coach couldn't help them.

>> How insecure and in need of validation someone needs to be to seek career advice from a chatbot four times a month?

Let me rephrase that: "How long does one need to go without finding a job - perhaps any job, or one that is satisfying, or that pays well - before one seeks career advice from a chatbot?"

I have been fortunate with my career opportunities; your dismissive tone tells me you've also never truly struggled. Not everyone is in the same boat. Some go for years unemployed, or are stuck in a spiral of being paid far below market salary. I can understand why some people might be attracted to this service.

That said, I have some criticism for this business:

1. Your market isn't large enough. Those who would find this the most useful are unemployed, and cannot afford to pay. This will hold back growth more than anything - your best customers are those you cannot acquire. This leaves people who already have successful careers, and are only looking for an edge to improve their success the next time they are job hunting, or to "game" their current employer. I imagine the number of people in this category to be far less numerous.

2. From the home page: "A team of career coaches, industry experts & AI". Sorry, we're not naive. With that misleading phrasing, I'm almost certain that the "career coaches and industry experts" are never personally in contact with the customers. You simply trained the AI with their input, and these professionals are not on board to personally assist anyone. You're selling the AI rather than personal advisers, paying a modest fee to curate content instead of matching people with human beings who can offer informed advice. That is the real shame here: marketing "career coaches" and "industry expects", while that is a half-truth. Artificial intelligence as it exists today is not good enough for one-on-one coaching. For a service this important, where people are hanging their hopes and dreams of a career on the line, only an expert in the field is capable of tailoring their advice to each client in a way that is appropriate - perhaps even moral.

3. Regarding the "AI" (too many companies claim to have real artificial intelligence, when all they have is a precomputed index of lookup terms), I bet that the database is extremely generic. If you are looking for advice on the interview process, you would get similar information by Googling for interview tips. The odds that you can narrow the context down to get at information that is specifically tailored to your exact situation, rather than a generic scenario that matches problems facing the majority of the population, is slim. This service is likely nothing more than a search engine for curated content related to career advice - with a bit of interface design sugar making it seem more like a conversation than a search result.

I also provide private career advisory/coaching and resume services to many in the tech sector, and I'm a mod on a Reddit sub that answers compsci career questions (r/cscareerquestions), so this caught my eye.

The biggest question I generally have with services like this is "who is providing the advice?". We have an issue in our Reddit sub, where there is little transparency (obviously due to anonymous accounts) as to whether your career advice is coming from someone with twenty years of industry experience or an intern. I think the source of the info is relevant, as the recipient may want to weigh the advice based on the source's experience.

It appears Boost is using some AI that might automate some of the response, which will hopefully provide some good answers and perhaps have a few kinks with advice that doesn't quite apply.

As a bit of advice for the founder (saw you commenting here), perhaps a bit of info on the source of the advice would be useful to users.

Best of luck with the service, and feel free to reach out.

Hey Fecak! Fantastic -- and important -- question.

We have trained career coaches on staff, an advisory board for coaching, and an extensive network of experts who are within reach.

Through all of this, each conversation acts as a knowledge base that we can pre-fill. We brought in tens of industry experts across product management, design, software engineering, marketing, and more to give crash courses, which were then put into the database as well.

We're still refining our coaching process, as what works for one individual doesn't always work for another.

I'd be interested in chatting in more detail. Can you reach out? :) -> zach@getboost.io

That's refreshing to hear that you've got some experienced team members in place or on call, and although career advice is clearly not 'one-size-fits-all' I've learned over the years that there are certainly many pieces of advice that can be applied on a regular basis without much need for customization (negotiation tactics perhaps) which is why AI will be quite useful to you.

Happy to discuss with you, will email directly. Again, good luck!

In the "Communicate Better" section, did the imaginary employee really attach business confidential information in a Boost topic?

i.e. "I've attached a PowerPoint full of sensitive information that I'd love you to read and profide feedback. Soon afterwards I'll be needing job search advice since my employer will fire me for having such terrible judgement."

Sounds like a terrible idea and a poor example of how to use the service. Do they really want to advertise Boost as a service which will provide unapproved consultancy of confidential info?

Boost is 100% confidential. People talk about complex power grabs and political situations all the time. For Boost to work well, people need to be able to trust it with Information thy want confidential.

> 100% confidential

Are your coaches licensed professional counselors, therapists or psychologists? If not, those conversations are not actually privileged; any disclosure of legally protected information (like a company's sensitive internal documents) would be highly improper.

We're thinking about putting in an NDA-like process that's more formal. People should feel secure that we have their back.

Interestingly enough, "licensed career coaching" is a complete sham. There's no real accreditation or regulatory environment: the largest career coaching programs that bestow certificates are private, for-profit orgs and give out their certs like candy on halloween. It's really sad.

I agree that there's a large amount of information that probably shouldn't be sent to us, but people also need to give us the full context for their personal problem. We don't encourage people to send us information we don't need, and often they can get by with indirect info... "we're raising $8.6m on a $100m valuation" -> "I think we're going through additional funding soon."


It's not called a 'licensed career coach' -- privilege, in this case, is a legal protection that is not afforded to the type of relationships you're talking about. You're putting yourself, and your clients, in a very legally tenuous position.

This is the first thing that popped into my mind also.

Also what about legal blowback if they give really bad advice?

Talking about complex power grabs and political situation is a bit different than encouraging employees to upload confidential information, which is what I think tIONTamINariciA.

Would you consider adding anything to the UI to discourage your users from those potential lapses in judgement? And if not, what do you do to protect the sensitive information you may find in your hands?

So far we haven't had anyone give us any information that's super juicy, so we're not worried about a built-in UI to discourage it yet.

Once we can expand the team further, hiring a full-time security engineering staff will be a priority. As of now, we have the basics down... full E2E encryption, security access privs, etc.

This might be just me, but the most important thing to me when I get advice is:

- who am I getting it from

- what do I know about their life/experience

- under what circumstances

Because that let's me adjust how much importance to put on it. Getting advice is generally not the hard part, figuring out which advice to follow and which to discard is.

Totally agree.

We help people build external social support networks as well.

In addition, as is true with all good coaches, most conversations circle around introspection and talking through analysis rather than imposing our own advice. We still give plenty of advice, but we also are aware enough of the nuances that exist and we-don't-know-what-we-don't-know.

@dang: Are influenced submissions investigated? This post was submitted by an account with no other submissions/comments except this. I suspect some mischief, but have no proof. Is is possible to look at the first few votes made for this post?

The submission link has UTMs: https://www.getboost.io/?utm_source=hackernews&utm_medium=so...

This certainly smells.

That was something that tipped me off too. They're very specific.

It was posted by our head of coaching.

Suspicious? People self post all the time. We didn't run an upvote group, if that's your concern. HN algorithms are way too impressive.

I guess we'll have to take your word for it.

The account that posted was created about two months ago and this was the only submission which was the red flag. And this was the very first submission. Usually people have to repeatedly post to get the traction this post did because they get ignored sometimes.

So what's weird is she actually posted last week too, but only she can see that submission in her submissions page.

I can't see it -- I only see this one.

Maybe that's why this one was allowed to go up? Not sure.

Really cool idea, but I don't know why I would pay a (relatively large) monthly fee for a service that I probably need twice a year, around both my performance reviews.

Hey dtft!

Boost can do things that help you daily or weekly such as:

- Review communications (inbound and outbound) - Help you develop new skills and stay up to date - Assist you with targeted networking - And much more.

Overall, this is a service that can refine every aspect of your professional life. People who only think about refining their habits and practices twice a year are not aiming towards their potential. The bare minimum is too often accepted as normal -- we want to change that.

As someone that moved to SF from Sydney and didn't have a strong network here I think this would have helped.

One thing is that I have no idea who is on the other side of the chat. If they are giving me advice about one of the most important things in my life is there a guarantee on the quality of that advice?

Are you guys in the next YC batch?

Quality can been self-assessed quite readily, and for tricky situations we usually coach people to develop a supporting network outside of Boost. So far we have paying users who are VPs at large companies all the way to College Students.

And our tech revolves around surfacing quality advice, what works/doesn't work, so it will constantly improve. Still, we don't risk anything -- we do extensive training for coaches.

Quick question, trying to get my head around the product:

Say I just got an email from my boss that I think is passive-aggressively accusatory (e.g., perhaps it lays out the specifics of what she wants me to do tomorrow in a way that I think she's implying that I can't be entrusted to get things done without detailed instructions).

I paste the email into Boost, asking for feedback; am I crazy, or is this an accusatory email, I wonder, eagerly anticipating Boost's response. Perhaps I also want to hear Boost's advice on how to respond to the email.

After I do this, who is reading and interpreting the email on Boost's behalf, then giving me advice on how to respond? I'm sure you're feeding it into a sentiment analysis API, but apart from that, what human attention does the email get and what are the backgrounds of the humans doing it?

The humans are trained career coaches who are on our full-time staff. They are obliged to follow all privacy and confidentiality agreements that the company follows itself.

And I came here thinking this was about a C++ class library..

Cool idea. I like it overall.

I don't know about the idea of having "experts" talk to you. I've spent a lot of time thinking about my career and talked to a few experts and it's a real mixed bag. In some ways I see this in the same way I see most formal mentoring programs - the best way to get an amazing mentor is to arrange it yourself. There's a way to do it, but it's hard.

That said, there's a massive amount of potential to change the way that recruiting is done. Traditional job boards suck - they don't work for candidates - it's a blind stab in the dark, they don't work for hiring managers because you get the same 100 applicants who didn't read the job description every time you post up an ad.

Getting people to front-load the work before they look for jobs and making that introductions to companies would totally change the game. Recruiters aren't suited for that (I am a sales recruiter). You'd eat LinkedIn's job postings for dinner as well.

If you were able to get a userbase of high-quality candidates, who you worked with to improve their careers and then put them into additional jobs you'd be able to charge thousands for each successful hire. There's a market for helping move the smart, overworked, underpaid millennials who are grinding it out at professional services firms from their first jobs at $50k to jobs paying $120k a year (which will more or less happen naturally for a lot of them as they move through their 20s). These people are likely to pay for it, plus their employers would pay on the other end.

The hardest bit is making it a habit for young professionals to check into your platform. Right now it's a weird concept, but hey, the idea of dating online amongst 22 year olds was weird until Tinder changed the entire game.

If you could turn Boost into a career coach firstly and then into a reliable pipeline of candidates for professional firms, I'm convinced you could make this massive.

Damn, I want to work on this now haha.

Hey! Message me -> zach@getboost.io

We actually played that game before. We were arbitraging candidates for their job hunt -- taking a % of their salary upon successful new job. The issue was, most frequently, was that you'd have to invest a lot of time/money into people and there are a lot more "talkers" than "doers". So far, the recurring revenue model has been a lot more psychologically pleasing, haha...

But yes -- our goal is to really help people become better and move up the career ladder faster. If you're passionate about that, I do think we should chat!

Reminds me a lot of StrongIntro's (YC W16) website


Hey! We are friends with Fouad (founder of StrongIntro) and he let us use the images. :)

Fouad is awesome. Always so helpful to everyone around him.

True that!

One thing I want to mention is our upcoming event! We'll be hosting Amjad Masad, Founder of Repl.it and former JS Tech Lead at Facebook where they built projects like React Native, BabelJS, and Jest.

Tickets are free. Event is in SF on June 1st!


Thanks for sharing. Some notes:

1. Signups go right to waitlist, so it's hard to validate any of this. Is this vaporware? Why waitlist? Are you still in dev, or is this an artificial scarcity play?

2. All I see here conceptually is headhunter lead-gen, so I don't understand why you're charging $708+/yr for chatting. Why not offer your service for free, register orders of magnitude more users, and make your money as an agency by placing users in new jobs? If they are engaged with your platform, you'll know it's time to do that before any other platform or agency does, and you have a qualitative advantage over other agencies because you will have counseled your candidates for a long time prior. Seems like the focus of Jobstart before you rebranded it, n'est pas?

3. Your job functions in registration are constrained to tech and tech-adjacent functions only. Is that a limitation of the advisors you have on your platform, an unconsciously narrow scope, or is it related to your market designs for point 2?

4. How will you not get obliterated in court for encouraging the transmission of proprietary or privileged information?

5. Back to the $708+/yr point, so many alternatives could provide the same use for less. A private curated Quora, a user mentor network with perks (advise other users for incentives), even curated career resources in a newsletter or Amazon book-of-the-month club. I realize that a service like this might pay for itself in boosting one's earning potential, but many less-expensive incarnations of the same are at anyone's disposal.

6. Why chat? Why not email? Why not Hangouts? I feel like chat is such a restrictive medium.

Hey Beager!

1. We actually have a load balancer of sorts. When we get flooded with requests and won't be able to maintain conversational quality, people get put into the line. It's effective for launches like this. We prefer to not put people into the line, as instant-access users are 38% more likely to engage, but quality trumps all else.

2. Fun you mention this! This is how our business worked at the beginning, but it led to some really absurd dynamics at scale. People above mentioned ethics questions... well, when the company's and coach's profit-motive is to place you in a new role, the advice slants that way. Especially if it's $15k a pop for an engineer. Secondly, this model only work with engineering and SV-based recruiting... and we want to help people who are facing uphill battles in the US -- not just those who already have it pretty good.

3. As we develop a larger network of industry experts and train our coaches, we'll be able to expand further.

4. People can send us whatever they want, but we don't actively encourage proprietary information in any specific way.

5. We attempted a user mentor network before and it didn't scale. The user experience was often terrible for users because we couldn't guarantee consistency or quality of advice -- a LOT of mentors would give terrible advice, and then we'd have to come in to fix the situation. To even detect that, you have to give mentors a shot. Secondarily, if a mentee slacked, the mentor wouldn't feel empathy for them and also slack. When we control the experience, we can play "coach" and get real with people -- mentors don't look to do that usually. Sometimes there are hard conversations and people need to be told their being lazy, making excuses, etc.

6. It works with chat and email. We're trying to think about scale, and live video would require a price point that is about double or triple. That would make it unaffordable for middle America.

Thanks for the thoughts + analysis! Curious your take on my replies.

Disclaimer, I have gotten much value out of their previous project, jobstart.

1/ it's based on personal advice so needs to scale on both sides. I've spoken w the founders and they legit.

2/ I intend to get my work to pay for it under "high quality outsourced good management". I don't expect to use it for a new job, but to perform better in my current.

3/ it is my understanding that it's a scaling thing.

5/ in my job, a 10% improvement in efficiency Uncompounded is worth thousands of dollars in direct costs per month. Well worth it, based on my jobstart experience w the same team.

With respect to #2, why would any employer pay for their employee to use a service that has a strong financial incentive to place them in a new job?

If the service ($) actually develops an employee to a higher level of performance, the employer gets the benefit of a more senior hire who is already at their company instead of having to recruit ($$) and on-board ($$) one & hope they work out ($$$).

Even if they need to give the current employee a healthy raise ($$) to retain them, they'd still probably net save money.

(in theory)

If some high % of employees who use this tool discover they really ought to be working elsewhere, well, that's probably better for the industry's cost/productivity as a whole, so everyone wins in the end yayy!! But sure maybe it's optimal for an employer to hide this sort of tool if they rely on employees having inefficient market information to retain them & that somehow fits with their ethics...

(Looking at you, the giant companies that got sued for their illegal informal non-competes...)

Have they thought about adding in Motivational Coaching? I would easily pay for that as I need to perform at a very high level for long periods of time with little advice. I would pay probably upwards of 300 a month for regular access to a motivational and strategic coach a la the main character in Showtime's Billions.

Boost does motivational coaching as well! We brought in some CBTs (Cognitive Behavioral Therapist) who recommended we train our coaches in it.

I can't guarantee it'll be as high quality as the Billion's actors though. ;)

I am usually very skeptical, esspecially when it comes to the pitfalls of exchanging personal advice, but this really is not personal advice. This is ethics training.

I think the difference changes Everything. This could solve a very real problem: the mysteries of navigating ethical standing.

I am concerned about the anonymity, particularly that the advice depends on the info provided while the user is representing not only themselves as a patient but also their ego. Ideally, the user would have comfortable assurance of their anonymity and the concept would have a unique value. If doable and manageable, I would believe in that.

Privacy would be a concern for many users (for various reasons) but not all. My thought about anonymity is about usefulness, not privacy.

Hah—ironically, it's expensive enough it should be advising you to go with a cheaper option.

I didn't look very deep beyond the main graphic at the top, basically did a quick 5 second test on it. Personally, even though I'm a typical person who avoids phone calls most of the time, I can't imagine texting some stranger for career advice. Some sort of network tool to match with a mentor for a long-term relationship sounds like something I might become interested in once in the shit storm as a founder. Ideally, the match would lead to phone and/or in-person conversations and advice.

UTMs in the HN link: cheese-a-rific

"Hi again Boost. So I've been working at my job now for about 8 months and don't think I'm getting paid enough as a Lead Designer -- barely making rent in SF isn't fun. Is it too early to ask for a raise?"

Would someone really want to confide that much of personal glimpse into their working life to community they barely even know, or even for their current employer or future employer to possibly see one day.

Not for me.

I have similar concerns, although I'm shocked the quoted question is where someone would draw the line. That in particular does not seem at all personal, or potentially damaging at all (if an employer regards an employee trying to gauge their value negatively they're probably a shitty company to work for anyway). Personally I wonder how effective any kind of general career advice could be without conferring with a level of intimacy I'd reserve for a therapist or close friend. I feel like only the most practical career advice (which is widely and freely available) could be offered up without delving into things like long term goals and personal motivations. I guess I could see this being useful if you have a well formed idea of where you want to go in your career and have trouble getting from point A to point B, or could use a little encouragement/social pressure, but I think the harder problem is figuring out that destination not the implementation details.

To both points: trust is earned over time and we have to actually design our onboarding flows and coaching processes around that idea. It's tricky, but it's how it should work -- we don't expect people to have implicit faith in any system, and actively coach them to question the world around them.

More people question too little than too much, so it's great to see you all are the opposite. :)

My first question on seeing this was "what does the advice look like?" Thanks for having so many examples right on the home page!

I'm a recruiter who's been a CTO, contract developer, consulted for most of the large international staffing companies, run (very) occasional courses on career development for developers, and have hired many people as a technical interviewer. I give a lot of free advice to developers I represent.

I will be curious to see if there's an actual market for this.

Do you work in or around the Bay Area? I don't actually know very many recruiters who are more than just salespeople.

Afraid not. While I've technically got global reach, I focus on London, and a particular niche in London.

Any tips for finding 'good' recruiters/filtering out bad ones?

And any tips for finding good recruiters in London specifically?

What area are you in? Possible I can make recommendations albeit unlikely. I've found a fairly strong correlation between recruiters whose company I enjoy and their competence. Also: look at the spread of the jobs they're in, do they sponsor conferences and communities?

Recruiters only give advice to job seekers.

Also, most recruiters (sorry) can't be trusted. Their motivation is not aligned with the candidate's best interests -- candidates are their product.

Sounds like this would be helpful for a lot of people. I would use it following the same rationale as hiring a personal trainer: some self-imposed level of accountability to push me forward. I know how to exercise, but having someone there to nudge me in the right direction helps me actually do it.

^^^^ someone gets it!

Good idea or not - I am worried about the security of this. Some of us have signed contracts that specifically mention that we shouldn't share company information with third parties.

Even if a person hasn't signed a non disclosure, how ethical is it to share in-company politics with others?

We are too -- that's why we are working close with our lawyer to understand all the implications.

We're also working on DB security. Our data isn't large enough yet to really be a big target -- it's pretty boring right now -- but we'll invest in it right when scaling hits promising Series A-style levels.

How will you scale (if intended)?

Why I ask: Wondering if bots or customer support staff can really support this use case.

Hey there! We're looking to scale this in a similar way as Facebook M -- where our coaches on staff have control over specific bots with specific purposes, and can leverage an entire world of data/knowledge to quickly craft personalized responses.

At $59/month, unit economics should work as we develop better tech. But for now we're certainly prioritizing quality over speed. :)

Have you thought about freemium models? Maybe have bot-only engagements that are free and then pay for more personalized advice? I just feel like paying on a "session" basis would be more workable for me than a monthly subscription. If the product/advice works well, I should have less and less need of it! :)

I've watched Zach and his team evolve their business and product over the past few months and years. I'm really impressed by their ability to adapt and build new products guided by user feedback and data. I'm excited to see how many people Boost will help!

What is your legal protection on giving bad advice? It's all good to say something along the lines of it not being legal advice, etc. But what if some advice you give wrecks that person career? How are you and your mentors protected?

I'm not totally convinced but sufficiently intrigued to give this a go.

Are you focussing purely on low to mid level employees inside a company or also catering to freelancers and such people who have similar though not exactly the same needs?

Hey! We have a wide variety of users and are trying to figure out if we want to niche, but so far a lot of the success has been against broad markets.

Low/Mid level employees are certainly much easier to help. Less complicated political situations, etc.

We have a couple freelancers on the platform... probably about 15 or so. Their discussions usually center around improving their external brand and customer pipelines.

This looks very useful. But it's not clear to me what a "topic" is. Is it a single question from beginning to end? If it dragged on could it become a new topic? More clarity with this would be great!

Thanks for the feedback!

There's actually currently an AB test where we remove topics. It seems that most people are confused by this, and it created a strange flow in the conversations.

A topic is basically an entire chat engagement, end-to-end, with a specific purpose.

As I said though, we're looking to gain data right now to possibly remove them. Appreciate the thoughts!

Maybe just call them "conversations"?

How do you manage such an insanely low price point?

I always love when this advice contrasts with "Why does it cost so much" :P

Our entire engineering team is dedicated to building tools that make our career coaches super human. Unit economics can get healthy pretty fast.

Cool idea! Very much needed in this industry.

Would this be suitable for money-making side-project advice and goals?

Possibly useful for people who have lots of money and no friends.


Here's a similar service for dating advice: https://hermes.social

Shows that this concept can span niches.

This is awesome!

Hey Elfen! Founder here -- thank you. :)

We're always looking to hone in our pitch and improve the product. If you or anyone else here has feedback, let me know.

Can we get a shift + Enter to submit the main chat text field?

Shift+Enter is usually reserved to make a new line, wherease command or ctrl+enter is used to submit.

Does that work for you?

Thank you!

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