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Launch HN: Trustle (YC W20) – On-demand child development experts for parents
142 points by eba7keb on March 5, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 142 comments
Hi HN!

We’re Elizabeth, Tom and Catalin - the founders of Trustle (https://www.trustle.com). We give parents of young children access to a dedicated expert in child development. When your kid stops sleeping through the night, starts having meltdowns, or is struggling in preschool, instead of frantically Googling things, we give you personal access to someone with expertise, who you can know and trust.

As parents, we know how hard it can be. One of us, Elizabeth, has a 5-year-old and is pregnant while going through YC. (She's amazing! And at the same time it's a heavy load.) We know it can feel that work takes up so much energy that there’s none left over for your kids, and paradoxically at the same time it can feel that all your energy is taken up by your kids and there’s none left for work. We’re all trying to create the best environment for our child, but the day to day reality of that can feel really hard.

And our support systems have changed dramatically; we’ve often moved away from the close-knit communities and extended families that used to be the norm. And when we go online we see an overwhelming amount of advice that’s often contradictory and just doesn’t feel applicable to our specific situation.

As well as being parents, we have a background in child development. Elizabeth is a clinical child psychologist, Tom has worked extensively in EdTech, and Catalin has applied ML to child behavioral health out of Stanford. We came together because of a shared appreciation for how crucial the home environment is for a child’s development, and a shared confusion as to why support for parents is so impersonal. We can’t think of another field that is as complex as child development where outside support and access to expertise isn't the norm.

So we created Trustle! We want to bridge the gap between parents and expertise. Whether it’s to solve a specific problem like sleep or behavioral challenges, or it’s to proactively prepare the right environment, Trustle gives parents a dedicated coach.

When a parent signs up we ask a few questions and match them with a suitable expert who is then available through video chat, phone, and in-app messaging whenever the parent needs them. All our experts have a least a decade of experience working with families and young children, a minimum of a master’s in early childhood development, and go through a fairly rigorous selection process.

We deeply appreciate how personal the parenting journey is. Our role is not to push our own beliefs. Instead, our coaches get to know families, and then use this relationship, paired with knowledge about child development and learning, to come up with solutions that work for their children, their goals, and their beliefs.

On the experts’ side, we use technology to amplify their ability to work with parents. First, technology can make them more efficient. We can create an automated ‘assistant’ for the coach that can surface the right information at the right time, and support the coach by preparing repetitive and unambiguous tasks. Second, we'll keep them up to date on the latest in child development research, as well as using the power of the network by giving coaches access to each other's learning and experience.

There’s no one-sized fits all ‘solution’ in raising children, which is why there is so much impersonal, contradictory information online that leads to parents feeling confused. We want to help parents cut through that, and figure out what works for them.

We know there are many parents on HN, including those with young children right now - we’d love to hear about your experiences and needs around this. And of course feedback and ideas!

I've worked in healthcare in the past (Drug Discovery) and have two parents in healthcare (Autism Clinical Psychologist and a Non-trauma ER Doctor).

This is really interesting and honestly, rings a bit true to me given what I've observed from their interactions. Here are some anecdotes I've observed from parenting information asymmetry:

1. A lot of young parents (think: less than 20 years old) show up at the ER with healthy crying babies and little or no information. When I was pre-med track and shadowed my father in the ER, I would see 3 or 4 of these parents in a 12 hour shift. Watching my father "bootstrap" each of these parents into what normal clinical baby behavior is prior to any health diagnosis was interesting: It was essentially a 30 minute 101 session about babies that are super important but also non-obvious. It was also obvious that the lessons really sunk in when it came from a third party clinician. It also wasn't uncommon to see the baby parents and the parent's parents in the ER, all taking notes.

2. For my mother (the clinical psychologist), I've observed that even highly-educated, well-resourced parents still struggle with everything necessary to learn when having an autistic child. These sessions would often range from immediate clinical needs, to year-by-year details of specific education needs for the rest of childhood, to the region and state-specific financial resources and saving accounts available for lifetime planning. My mother works with schools and publishes papers on this stuff, but the parents always came back because ability to have a very direct Q-and-A session about specific issues was incredibly valuable.

Anyway, my father is retiring soon but I'll tell my mother about your service. She can't travel as much but if it works via video chat, she may be up for taking sessions on it.

Thanks for sharing with your mom :)

Both your mom and dad come at this in different ways but point to what we're trying to do. Kids get a pediatrician to help with their child's health, but then not much for everything else and so they rely on the health system when it's not needed.

Of course we have to be very careful not to go the other way - we can't have a single parent use us when they should be going to the health system. We make sure all our experts are on top of that - in fact, we hope that having close contact with a child development professional will help early diagnosis.

ad 1) would you mind sharing what kind of advice this was? I don't want to miss anything, having a baby myself right now.

Unfortunately this was 15 years ago so the details are lost to time. The memory I have is more about watching him demonstrate in-person how to hold a baby, how much crying to expect, what fever behavior looks like, etc.

I'm also not a clinician or a parent so I'm going to refrain from giving out specific advice, even if I witnessed it first hand. I'll ask him next time I see him and if he has something written I'll update this comment.

Thank you. Sorry I couldn't check the comments, but it would be appreciated.

Not OP but I've got a 6 month old. I got some good advice from strangers and am compelled to pay it forward.

I highly recommend the book Happiest Baby on the Block, and even more so, the video (still sold as a DVD, but you can also stream online[1]). There are a lot of shorter videos of the author, Harvey Karp doing his thing if you want a taste[2]). The basic idea is that because humans have to be born early due to skull size, babies have a virtual 4th trimester. For the first 3-4 months of life the best way to help them is to simulate the womb environment using the 5 S's: swaddling, sucking reflex, swaying (really more like jiggling), shhing (white noise), side or stomach position (for calming, not for sleeping). The right combination of these will activate a "calming reflex".

Another good starter resource I recommend is the Wonder Weeks book and app. It marks out periods when your baby will be going through a "leap" in cognitive ability, which often are accompanied by fussy behaviour that seems to come out of nowhere. It's very reassuring to understand that your baby, who you think you had figured out, is currently a bit overwhelmed because they are all of a sudden seeing clearly beyond 8 inches or understanding that things are related to other things, and knowing that the fussing is a natural adjustment period to new skills and awareness makes their sudden shifts in behavior interesting rather than distressing.

There are also 3-4 pages of great advice in the book Bringing up Bebe on the French approach to "sleep teaching", which revolves around taking a few minutes to watch a baby who wakes up crying instead of just picking them up right away, thus giving them a chance to fall back asleep naturally, combined with the idea of establishing a window between midnight and 5am when you calm a crying baby down with any method other than feeding. This helps them to establish the idea of nighttime and hopefully means that the parents can get some sleep. 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep is a godsend, especially for a breastfeeding mom.

A couple of books that should appeal to a lot of the HN crowd are Emily Oster's Expecting More and Cribsheet which looks at various aspects of pregnancy and childcare from a research-focused perspective.

Sleep training is really tough, and there are a lot of books out there that repeat the same ideas. I found Sleep Sense to have a pretty clearly laid method for "camping out" or "graduated extinction" aka "Ferberizing", both of which are more gentle than Weissbulth's full cry it out approach. YMMV and there are a lot of strong opinions on this. I'm in the middle of this so I'm less confident to make recommendations.

Feel free to email me.

[1] https://www.justwatch.com/ca/movie/the-happiest-baby-on-the-... [2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OtPSfyZXNw

Sorry, I could just check my comments now. Thanks for the recommendations. I am really against sleep training though :)

I'm an author of child-development books and spend a lot of time keeping abreast of research-backed parenting advice, so this is really interesting to me.

It seems like you need to position this service very carefully, since there is likely not a bright line between some of the issues parents might come to you for, versus seeing a pediatrician, behavioral health provider, or other health care provider.

And indeed, traditionally that's where parents would go with some of these issues (sleep issues, tantrums, etc.).

But your FAQs emphasize that you're not a health care service -- yet I wouldn't be surprised if parents rely on you to at least bring up when a health care provider should be brought into the loop.

Just out of curiosity, what would you say this service is intended to replace? Are your prospective subscribers people who would otherwise be reading books, poring through Internet advice, consulting friends and pediatricians, etc., and this service just saves them time versus the DIY alternative? Or are you courting people who have no idea how to do that stuff and their alternative is just suffering through it as best they can?

Lots of great thoughts here, thank you for sharing them. The line between parent support and parent coaching and behavioral health requires great care in navigation - I agree with you. Before I started Trustle, I worked both as a child psychologist in a traditional capacity, and provided video-based parent coaching. There are a LOT of parent support organizations that don't use credentialed providers because of the nuances here - and many parent coaches don't have any credentials in the space. I think instead that the licensed providers should be in the space of provided remote support, for many reasons, but also because they know when a referral for more intensive support is needed. Having licensed professionals helps to ensure that we refer when we need to. And, we often work with parents who have in-person therapists as an additional support.

I think the service replaces parents who turn to google searches, facebook groups, and blogs for advice. This advice isn't always evidence-based, and it can't be tailored to the family. Zero to three reported from their national survey that 84% turn to articles specifically aimed at helping parents, but only 49% find them helpful.Parents do want guidance from child development professionals. 54% of parents say they would like information from a “special web site or blog from child development experts.” Additionally, 63% of parents overall say “I am skeptical of people who give parenting advice and recommendations if they don’t know my child and my situation specifically.” And this instinct is right. Trustle aims to fill this need.

Also, as a child psychologist, I spent SO much time speaking to friends and family who wanted support (and to know which advice was evidence-based), but the challenge didn't call for a professional (potty training, typical tantrums, etc).

I would love to hear more about what you think!

Would your experts 'diagnoze' a child based solely on parent's presentation of issue the child/family is experiencing? In simple cases this may be reasonable, but such common issue as tantrums may be deep and multifaceted.

This brings another aspect of the responsiblity of your experts for giving any corrective advice to the parent. What is the ethical balance between giving a wrong advice vs. right advice that didn't work?

Great questions!

On the first, we're very cautious; we do not do diagnosis. What we do do is support parents in seeking out a diagnosis if that was the appropriate path. Our experts have all either done diagnosis or facilitated them in the past so they're good and knowing when to suggest that. The balance is in making sure we don't give parents a false confidence, but we find that the pairing of an expert with the family is much more effective than a parent wondering on their own.

On the second point, let me know if I misunderstood, but our goal is to give the right advice. We know that it won't always work and often that will be due to the unique nature of the specific family. Sometimes we will just get it wrong; we have a very rigorous selection process for the coaches and strong QA and ongoing support so we hopefully don't get it wrong very often. But we know we won't be perfect.

A wrong advice may be furnished on insufficient detail of the presented issue, or a biased assessment as could be the case with parent only observation. Yet the effect of such advice will be directed at the child.

> ...we have a very rigorous selection process for the coaches and strong QA...

What is your QA approach? How do you tell a right expert advice from an insufficiently right?

We do lots of things, but one of the most important steps is an in-depth role-play where we go through numerous scenarios. We're not just looking for the knowledge (which given their qualifications and experience they should have) but also for their ability to use that knowledge in the context of a parent's own goals and philosophy. If someone brought their own philosophy or values, and not just their experience and expertize, then we wouldn't bring them on.

I'm not sure how to interpret your response.

If a parent is a practitioner of "strong-hand" approach. Your experts would suggest which side of the hand to use or not on which child's body part?

It's absurd, of course, the experts do develop their values and indeed philosophy based on their experience. Even AI based advisor would be acting according to programmed balances and checks.

Thus the importance of how you tell a wrong advice from a right one.

Maybe I can try :). I think there is a distinction between philosophy and evidence-based advice and information. For example, there is evidence from research that spanking has negative consequences on development - so we would lead with that evidence.

As a different example, let's take sleep - lots of different philosophies, and the research isn't clear on impact on development regarding which sleep approach is used. So, our professionals can help parents develop a plan based on the science of sleep, and how children learn to support the parent in forming a plan based on their philosophy.

This isn't different than what any evidence-based behavioral professional or a psychologist that a parent would seek out would do. And, it's an iterative process. We work with families over time to track change, iterate on plans, discuss snags, etc.

The balance and check is that its' evidence-based advice, not opinion. Does this help?

> The balance and check is that its' evidence-based advice, not opinion.

Is there any particular body of research that supports your evidence-based advice? I assume this reasearch is public, as to be validated.

Are you asking if there is a body of research about child development/sleep/behavior management/learning in children? Yes, there is. Yes, it is public (and diffuse). And it is often misinterpreted and over/under-stated in parenting blogs and books (screen time is a great example of this). There are contradictory studies, but you have to look carefully and weigh the merits of the study (is it correlational? is it a valid study? what are the confounding variables? what is the size of the sample? what are the researchers conclusions?).

Have you ever read Emily Oster? She talks a lot about deciphering the data on pregnancy and caring for children (she wrote expecting better and crib sheet). It's messy science, but there is absolutely data. All the more reason a professional can support a parent to understand how (if) it applies to them and could inform decisions they make when working through a challenge.

You should figure out how to get medical staff and bill insurance. The service is really expensive to just be replacing googling.

It would be awesome if we could figure out how to get insurance to cover this type of support. I also don't think it just replaces that. Parents spend a ton of money on books, courses, etc. There is also the time factor (we save parents a lot of time), and filling the need of parents who might go see a therapist to get support, but don't really need that level of support. We are also priced well below the market for parent coaches and sleep consultants (usually $150 a session).

I'm a paying customer of Trustle, for a few months now, and absolutely love the service. I don't know the founders, I just work with one coach and couldn't recommend her highly enough. I proselytize to friends and family, but they never seem to understand and just give me blank stares as I explain how much she helps. Maybe I do a poor job pitching, but I don't think that's it.

If I had to guess, I think most people prefer to be reactive, not just with children, but in every facet of life. Whereas other people (especially on HN) are instinctively proactive and are always looking for new ways to invest in the future. The reactive people don't seem to understand why I need the help of a professional when my infant child seems calm and grounded. Proactive people understand immediately; they get that it's an investment.

When I signed up, I didn't even know what Trustle was planning to offer. They said they do "parent coaching". Huh? I just knew for $x/month if I could bounce ideas off a professional it would be more than worth it. Fast forward a few weeks and I quickly learned to trust my coach's advice more than any pediatrician, day care worker or family member. The reasons are long and detailed, but suffice to say I'm a serious fan.

I've spoken to my coach a couple of times about tough situations, like sleep problems (she was impossibly helpful), but mostly I see value in our discussions about learning, discipline, philosophy, independence, etc. I've come to love her pragmatic, balanced and evidenced-based approach.

Thank you for sharing your experience! The most rewarding part of this process has been seeing the way parents feel supported by our coaches, and they really are amazing.

It seems that the underlying assumption here is that people who are highly educated and work in "clinical child development or similar" are superior at giving advice. Is this actually true? I'm also skeptical of the idea that support is best given as advice as opposed to something tangible.

If you indeed have a way to give superior advice to parents and result in presumably superior outcomes for parents and their children compared to the default, which is a parent who uses their own resources wouldn't it be more profitable to just open up a daycare?

In any case, I wish the Trustle team good luck, but I'm very skeptical that this is superior to just talking to people who have kids already. Kids are unique, but what constitutes a good environment isn't as broad as the landing page and marketing make it sound. Furthermore, if one does believe kids are unique that is with odds with the technology aspect of this business. Either kids are so unique that technology can't really be used to make things more efficient, or kids can be roughly grouped into categories, in which case - surely said information about children is already out there?

Finally - if blogs and content out of the web cannot be trusted, why should your experts' advice be? There are very smart people out there who have written books and blog posts. What's the value add beyond that? Since you're only paired with a single person, what if there is contradictory advice between your experts? Would you not simply be back at square one then?

I too have my reservations (though I want to try this out), but:

> if blogs and content out of the web cannot be trusted, why should your experts' advice be? There are very smart people out there who have written books and blog posts.

The problem is, there are orders of magnitude more articles written by content marketers - between papers, lifestyle magazines, presell pages, social media groups, infographics, YouTube videos, etc. there's tons of it, and it has much better SEO than legit sources. I've worked next to some content marketers and seen how this is created - mostly, by mindless copy-pasting from other content marketers, and occasionally rephrasing things to avoid accusations of plagiarism.

The hard part of finding sources on-line is filtering out low-quality sources and misinformation. If Trustle can help with that - if they can develop and maintain a trustworthy reputation, this will be a service worth paying for.

I think there are two challenges with content on the web. First, there's all the marketing stuff you mentioned that could be low quality.

Second, even for the high-quality stuff (and there is some really great stuff out there), it isn't necessarily right for a specific family. There's no way for a blog to understand a families specific goals or philosophy, or to take into account the unique situation of the child or parents. Families are complex, and we hope our coaches can help a family sort through that complexity and get the info that's right for them.

I think friends can be an excellent resource for support - and they often are! I think the key thing that is missing at times is that friends speak from their own experience, not from a background of child development. This can mean that the advice is skewed. Having experience being a parent is great, but what works for one parent doesn't always work for another. This is where Trustle (or a trusted expert) can come in.

Take sleep for example (a really common challenge we support parents with) - a lot of people have STRONG philosophical beliefs about sleep. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that - but research doesn't support that ONE approach to sleep is better than another (for example, sleep training vs. co-sleeping). However, the science of sleep can inform supporting a parent to make a plan that aligns with their philosophy (rather than their friends) AND is informed by science. We can help parents understand sleep patterns, the importance of timing of sleep (night and naps), pros and cons or various sleep training, shaping, or supporting approaches (etc, etc), and how to do it safely.

I think this is the main difference.

We can support parents in thinking though challenges and decisions as a partner - they bring their experience and expertise on their family and child - we bring the expertise on child development to inform choices.

I appreciate you sharing your thoughts!

As a privacy-conscious parent with five children, all of whom are gifted in numerous ways, we do often speak with a psychologist about how to keep them challenged, how to steer negative behavior into good behavior, etc. I couldn’t imagine not having such a guide at our side in addition to all the books and content we consume as inspiration in our quest to nurture our family. However, I would also caution you - and pardon me for being presumptive about what this service will do, but please don’t run ML on my kids. I really don’t need their lives contributing to mass collection of psycho-data and analysis.

Tom here (Elizabeth's cofounder.) Completely valid worries in today's world! But rest assured we have no intention of doing that.

We want to use technology to make this service accessible and affordable to as many people as possible - for example being able to video chat rather than go to a physical location. But that's as far as we want to go.

Very good to hear that. How do you intend to use ML (I read one of the founders has an ML background)? Also what makes the service different from healthgrades other than facilitating the video call? How do you intend to ensure your providers follow hippa and/or aren’t charlatans? I’m genuinely intrigued... so above aren’t intended to shoot down your business.

:) We're new so these questions are great as they help us learn!

Healthgrades is for finding a clinical service; we are not a health service. We often use the term coach (which isn't a perfect term but the best we have right now.) We hope it is an ongoing relationship and not just used when somethings 'going wrong.' Another way we sometimes talk about it is that it's like a really good friend who happens to have an incredible background in child development. With that in mind, we don't fall under hippa as we don't discuss medical issues, although we aim to be at hippa level regardless.

Yup - Catalin has a background in ML. We're not working on any ML stuff right now - he's just an incredible technologist! The closest I can see right now is us being able to maintain a body of knowledge similar to how most doctors use Up To Date. We could then use ML to surface the information to the coach / expert so they always have the most up to date knowledge at their finger tips.

We want to be as efficient as possible so we can support as many parents as possible, and as effective as possible so we provide the best support. But we never want to replace the direct human connection, nor to use data in any way that parents wouldn't want - we know if we lose any trust we've got nothing!

It seems like you’re being thoughtful about your approach. Another question that comes to mind - how will you curate your providers? I think that’s been a challenge for similar models in other areas - they end up with a ton of providers ... too many initially to serve the customers they have...

I should also say, we have been really cautious not to bring on too many providers. We have people who are interested, but we are on boarding professionals in response to demand (rather than a ton of people up front). We do stay ahead with interviews and keep a list of interested providers who know we will reach out when we need to!

This is a harder Q! I don't 100% know but two things give me hope.

First, there are so many incredible experts in early childhood right now that - IMO - are undervalued. We have so many that want to have a home to use their skills in support of parents alongside whatever they currently do.

Second, we're investing heavily in the selection and then ongoing support and / professional development of our coaches.

Over time we will need to increase the support and development even further but for the foreseeable future we're just happy how many incredible people are out there.

That makes a lot of sense to be very supportive of your coaches. Maybe also keep it to a small cohort initially... As I’ve meet various gig workers one common complaint is that many feel like there are too many of them competing for too small deals or that they find it difficult to match deals with their specialty and end up passing or getting passed over because there wasn’t a perfect match in skills / career history. Back on the hippa topic... to me just even saying we talk to a psychologist about our kids development has stigma. Like what’s wrong your kids or you... so just even having an account May be a problem for some parents... also I bet quite a few will ask about using fsa dollars (which I assume you won’t be able to take) but maybe something to look into. Stigma aside I bet a lot of employers would pay for part or all of the fees as a perk.

The stigma is hard. As a mental health professional I am biased, but I think the parents that come to us for support are some of the best parents I know! Curious, thoughtful, and interested in working with someone to develop a thoughtful plan. We find there is a range of feelings. Some parents on our service shout out their happiness with working with us from the rooftops. Others have said it feels uncomfortable to share. Regardless, parenting is extremely personal. And we recognize that parents inviting us into the process is vulnerable and sacred. We don't take it lightly.

> in addition to all the books and content we consume as inspiration in our quest to nurture our family

A bit off-topic, but would love pointers to your top books / content on how to keep them challenged, how to steer negative behavior into something more positive, etc.

The kids love anything by Susan Wise Bauer. The Story of the World audiobooks narrated by her father are in constant rotation in the car and these provide a jumping off point to go deeper into topics. There are a few used booksellers on eBay that sell just about any title for $3.99, so when I see something that is related to a recent topic, I just get it. Magic Treehouse is great too - we found someone selling their entire collection on Craigslist.. occasionally I introduce challenges like how to calculate the orbit of a satellite (we all failed to find the Starlink train but we learned our mistake). We also take lots of field trips. Wildlife is an endless topic of interest... we introduced iPads and raspberry pi’s early on but this was an absolute disaster so right now it’s old school: books, paper, experiences and lots of talking.

Thank you!

I keep thinking about your question and you know one book that was really helpful to me was written by a friend — https://www.amazon.com/Family-Board-Meeting-Jim-Sheils/dp/13...

It’s less of a book than maybe an introduction to a framework he uses with his coaching clients. It’s not Hemingway but the key insight he exposed for me was that entrepreneurial parents raise kids with higher rates of depression. I don’t think he did a study to arrive at this conclusion but it was more an observation of people he knew. So he created a way for parents to engage their children using a format called the family board meeting. It’s basically a four hour one on one session doing an activity of the kids choosing without a cell phone involved. Kind of obvious but very hard to commit to when your business needs constant attention.

What books would you recommend? Parent to 3 young kids and haven’t read any books on parenting or raising kids yet. As much worries about making a bad choice as well as a good one (in book choice that is!) that would lead to teaching the wrong stuff and habits

I think broadly, the challenge with parenting books is that they sometimes put forth a particular philosophy or approach (some are more neutral and inclusive than others). So, I think it really depends what you are looking for, what your parenting style is, and the ages of your kids.

And if you are looking for advice, context is really important.

To directly answer though - my favorite parenting book is The Gardner and The Carpenter by Alison Gopnik

And, the parenting books by Emily Oster (Crib Sheet and Expecting Better - the latter is about pregnancy and the first early childhood).

The first thing I would say is to resist typing your kids as xyz. I think everyone is genuinely afraid / hyper vigilant of kids who are “on the spectrum.” (As an example)... don’t give your kid a label. Second advice would be don’t evaluate your kids without evaluating yourself. Your kids are a reflection of you. As for books, I can’t say there’s a complete book that I can recommend. At best you find snippets here and there that provide ideas. The best thing we’ve done is connect with a psychologist. The kids don’t see her, actually don’t even know she exists.

Simplicity Parenting is an easy and amazing read. The Audiobook is pretty good as well. :)

Upvote for any parent with 5+ Kiddos!

This. I can barely survive 2. 5 means glutton for punishment or kids are their hobby too lol

Thank you!

How do psychologists learn what's good for children without studying the population at scale?

This is probably going to be unsatisfactory as it will be a bit vague but I'm going to try ... :)

I think part of the challenge we're trying to help with is that lots of places (blogs, websites) say 'this is good for children.' Which could be true (if backed by the research) but that takes an averages approach (I love the book End of Average by Todd Rose.) It sounds a little millenial, but there is no average child and so an approach the uses averages often doesn't work.

Our experts get to know the specific family, philosophies and kids, and then bring their expertise (which includes the population scale research) to support them in a way that makes sense for them.

It's a bit like where we do population-level research on health, but we don't then expect that everyone take the same approach based on a few inputs. We still get them to talk to a doctor.

Obligatory surveillance capitalism subthread incoming.

1) uBlock Origin blocked 30 things within a minute of loading your main page. I understand you're a startup and want to measure things, but given the extremely sensitive nature of your subject domain, this is not a reassuring welcome.

2) Privacy Policy - it looks like you've made some headway towards being compliant with EU regulations, but stopped halfway short. That's understandable (you want to focus on a smaller market first). However, there are some mentions about passing data to marketing[0], like:

"We may share the information we collect about you (...) With vendors, consultants, marketing partners, and other service providers who need access to such information to carry out work on our behalf;", or:

"To our third-party vendors and service providers so that they may provide support for our internal and business operations, including for the processing of payments, handling of data processing, data verification, data storage, surveys, research, internal marketing, delivery of promotional, marketing and transaction materials, and our Services maintenance and security. These companies are authorized to use Your Information only as necessary to provide these services to us and are contractually obligated to keep Your Information confidential;"

I hope that in the future you'll go into details about with whom exactly you share what information, and what for (as will be required if you'll ever want to do business with EU customers), and also on how exactly you anonymize and de-identify data. Again, you're dealing with pretty sensitive information here; as a parent, I need to feel confident that I won't be feeding my kid to the advertising machine.

On a positive note, I do like the idea of your service, and would happily use something like this, as long as I can feel safe about the information I disclose.


[0] - Despite the summary saying, "We would only ever share it with a third part if it was clear that this was a part of the service you were signing up for." (also, there's a typo there).

This is really good feedback! I HOPE that most of the work we have to do is in communicating what we do rather than actually what we do. But without trust we've got nothing )given this is about a parents kids) and so it's a really important thing to get right either way.

I realize this doesn't change your first impression, but the website is our 'business frontpage.' None of the service (which does definitely include sensitive information) takes place through the site.

Our PP is a bit boiler plate and I think the main thing is to make it clearer about the things you've mentioned and separate the service from use of the website. So for example we do track who clicks on what on the website using things like Segment, but we don't do that in the tech product you use to communicate with the expert.

I'd love to chat more about learning if it's in the communication or if it's what we're doing? If you're willing, could you email tom@trustle.com? (And of course no expectation to do so! You've been so helpful with what you've shared so far.)

Thank you for responding. I'll elaborate more in an e-mail, but it seems that it's more about communication. For instance, the difference in amount of data collection and sharing you do through the "business frontpage" vs. actual service is critical, and I think it should be communicated directly - with a working adblocker, your analytics on the frontpage don't impact me much, but your data collection and sharing policies for the service itself are critical for me as a potential customer.

I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking this way, so perhaps consider describing the privacy aspects of the service itself somewhere on the front page.


I had a productive e-mail conversation with 'tomsayer which alleviated my concerns about the data processing surrounding the service itself. I look forward to the improvements on the site!

They load Google Tag Manager, Google Retargeting Pixel, Segment, Facebook Connect, and SmartLook (which looks like some kind of analytics package).

This should not be controversial as this would be found on pretty much any website that runs advertising and does user analytics, it's not really something to get all worked up over.

Also, I would probably recommend that small startups not put much effort into complying with EU regulations because:

1. EU regulators have limited time and are very unlikely to go after small startups.

2. As a result, the benefits of (costly) compliance aren't worth the costs.

> This should not be controversial as this would be found on pretty much any website that runs advertising and does user analytics, it's not really something to get all worked up over.

The fact that this is found on so many websites is a controversial thing already.

FWIW, all I'm doing here is providing a (however small) market signal. They're free to ignore it; no hard feelings. I am in the target market - a parent of a small child, interested in using the service and with enough spare income to afford it. But I don't like the aspects I mentioned.

> The fact that this is found on so many websites is a controversial thing already.

It's controversial to you, it's not controversial to the vast majority of people. Given that, the downsides of e.g. not being able to retarget advertising, not being able to understand effectively how users are using the website (with minimal effort), etc aren't worth the costs.

Say they were to just have those trackers pre-login and post-login there is nothing, they probably lose more business trying to emphasize this arcane fact that only extreme privacy-nerds care about on their homepage versus simply just ignoring them.

> Given that, the downsides of e.g. not being able to retarget advertising, not being able to understand effectively how users are using the website (with minimal effort), etc aren't worth the costs.

Downsides to the company. All upsides to me (you can understand effectively how users are using the website without doing extensive telemetry; in fact, this reduces your chances of A/B-testing yourself into full-blown user-hostility, as is common these days; see also: overfitting, Goodhart's law).

Not to mention: if you need detailed analytics, there are couple of self-hosted solutions available. Not at all that more complex to use, and at least they don't leak visitors' data to various shady third parties. Note that this particular product targets parents of small children and is bordering on "medical information" territory, so an analytics script from some random third party[0] which can track what FAQ options piqued your interests is especially worrisome in this context.


[0] - I noticed from your profile that you have experience in the marketing industry, and you seem to not recognize Smartlook.

> at least they don't leak visitors' data to various shady third parties

One would have to be extremely paranoid to think that most mainstream third-party data analytics providers are "shady", most of these providers (Segment, Amplitude, etc) all have clauses in the contracts that specify the end-user (the company in this case) as the owner of the data, and limit their usage of data to providing the services (meaning they're contractually obligated to NOT sell or do anything with the data).

In any case, it's a meaningless distinction, as the company could easily record all this data with native, first-party JS and proxy it to anyone they want on the backend and you would have no idea and no control over such a thing. This is already starting to happen, making all of the fuss about third-party metrics effectively just "privacy theater".

At the end of the day your behavioral data is going to the party whose software you're using, and if you don't trust them there is nothing that is going to stop them from doing whatever they want with that information.

>> They load Google Tag Manager, Google Retargeting Pixel, Segment, Facebook Connect, and SmartLook (which looks like some kind of analytics package). >> This should not be controversial

This is tricky, as handling a person asking for a medical advice is a rather special thing, compared to a person asking to buy a vacuum cleaner.

The thing is, all of your medical info will go to all of the above trackers, and surely they will sell it to whoever wants to pay for that. Insurance companies included.

Catalin (CTO) here. I very much understand the privacy concern.

To clarify, none of the communication with your coach happens via the Trustle website.

The part that is full of the standard instrumentation and analytics, as you point out, is our onboarding flow. The info you enter here is - who you are, - when you can talk, - and what parenting challenges you face at the broadest level.

Those are the questions required to match you with your coach. The data in those initial three questions flows into Segment and from there into our analytics tools (Amplitude, Google Analytics, conversion tracking for ads, etc.). And while it's all encrypted, etc., you're right to say that it goes to a lot of places internally. We will not ever sell that info, but analyzing it using modern tools internally helps us understand what our users want and how we can do better.

What comes afterwards is end-to-end encrypted conversation with your coach.

Oh, and Trustle is not a health service provider. However, we strive to treat your data with the same level of rigor that a medical service provider would apply; as opposed to the person selling you a vacuum...

> and what parenting challenges you face at the broadest level

> The data in those initial three questions flows into Segment and from there into our analytics tools

This is the worrying part. The fact that you're a parent and the particular broad challenges you face are already somewhat sensitive and useful for advertisers. It's fine if this info stays with you internally. It's not fine if your service providers start using it for their own cross-site marketing purposes.

Between individuals, trust works transitively - you trust them, I trust you, therefore I somewhat trust them too, within the scope of our relationship. Between individuals and companies, in the realities of Internet and modern advertising, it unfortunately does not work that way.

(I don't really expect you do anything about third-party analytics on the frongpage; I just want to voice the concerns.)

> we strive to treat your data with the same level of rigor that a medical service provider would apply

Aim higher. I have a doctor in my family, and you wouldn't believe some of the privacy horror stories I hear happen in hospitals.

>Aim higher. I have a doctor in my family, and you wouldn't believe some of the privacy horror stories I hear happen in hospitals.

Maybe you should just not use the service if you're so against them marketing and tracking user behavior in an extremely standard way. Maybe you should not, in an extremely self-important and arrogant manner, expect everyone else to conform to your view of how the world should be and tell them to "aim higher" if they don't please your every need.

Going to be totally honest with you: I read hackernews every day, and that experience has left me with a strong intuition to keep anyone vaguely associated with startup culture at least 1000 feet away from my kids.

What data do your venture capital funders hope to collect from my family? How can I trust you to respect our privacy when the entirety of startup culture, from top to bottom, seems not just consciously amoral, but apparently unable to reason morally in a normal, human, way?

Thanks for being honest, and I am sorry you feel that way. You are welcome to learn more about our privacy policy. I have helped countless families through my career, and have an incredibly deep respect for parents who seek support. I also believe that for our service to work, we have to have trust and operate ethically. I would not risk my professional ethics (or my license) for the sake of my business. Our vision is truly to make support more accessible and affordable for families. There is a need, and it's really sad when parents can't get the support they need or want, and don't always have easy access to reliable information.

I'd like to elaborate a little bit on what I'm suspicious of. Two relevant ideas are commonly encountered on Hackernews. The first: "Commoditize your compliment." (https://www.gwern.net/Complement) and the second, related, notion of "platforms."

It sounds to me like your startup wants to create a platform which captures the relationship between a family and their child development expert. In this business model your compliments are families and child development experts and by creating a low friction market between them you are naturally inclined to view them as commodities, as the platform holder. In my experience educated professionals don't like to be treated as commodities (in fact, I've never met a person who likes the idea of their labor being commoditized). Furthermore, my sense is that in the particular case of childhood development, a more personal touch is required (is perhaps the actual effective thing) in counseling children and families. In my view, the business model you have here, the fact that you think of it as a startup and that you debuted it on Hackernews, suggests that these fundamentally economic ideas form the substructure of what you are proposing.

The idea of connecting families to expert advice is great. If you really cared about that, why didn't you form a cooperative of child development experts who could invest in the appropriate technology? Such a platform, because it would be under cooperative control by the professionals in question, would resist commodification of both the families and professionals involved. In fact, a cooperative arrangement could even extend ownership to the families involved.

When I see a startup I assume the founders have dollar signs in their eyes. Years of hanging out on Hackernews have only underlined that perception. What I am getting at is that the very structure and context of this idea suggests either an ulterior motive or (to be more charitable to you) a misaligned incentive. I'm suspicious of either.

I like this idea as it seems a quicker way to get help. I live in Canada so I have access to good quality care. My wife and I are currently dealing with a 5 year old that has regressed in her potty training for some reason (and it's causing a lot of stress in our household). When I think about getting help, I suspect we will have to make an appointment with our family physician, who will then refer us to a child psychologist who will likely be booking a few weeks (months?) out. Getting on a chat with a trained expert would be a nice way to start and evalute the problem.

EDIT - I first get a warning about site security given http vs https. I then get an internal work network warning about the site --> Site name: www.trustle.com/ Category: Spam URLs

One of the reasons I started Trustle was because I had a TON of parents seeking out my support for everyday parenting challenge that would not normally want to make an appointment. In some cases potty training regressions are a great fit for therapy, but in other cases, therapy seems too intense. And, you are right, there is often a LONG wait for care (and in the US, it is quite expensive). The convenience of being able to access your dedicated expert whenever you want also helps to make progress on the challenge more quickly.

Thanks for the info on the site - are you accessing it over https or http when you get the error message? Any chance you can send you a screenshot at elizabeth@trustle.com. (our web flow should default to https)

clicked on the link you posted and Chrome gave me a warning. NET::ERR_CERT_AUTHORITY_INVALID

So sorry you're experiencing this error. We use Webflow so everything is taken care of by them, and it's only happening with a very small subset of users; we're trying to figure out why! Our certificates are testing correctly from a 3rd party tester.

If you're willing, can you email tom@trustle.com with your browser, location and URL that you're going to?

Weird! Didn't see any issues on our side.

BTW just booked a 45m call to see if an expert can help us get our 6 week old to sleep through the night!

Amazing news! Let us know what you think - our infant sleep experts are pretty amazing! 6 weeks is really tiny, but I am confident our expert will talk you through a developmentally appropriate plan that takes into account your infants feeding needs and sets up on the path for sleep organization! :)

I have had basically the same idea, after feeling the problem myself as a parent of young kids. There is so much garbage on Google. Social science is always going to lack the consensus of a hard science, but we can do better than content farms that have assembled articles from freelancers who probably don't have children and are mustering up advice that's barely common sense. I hope for your success!

Yes! We absolutely agree! Did you pursue the idea at all or have any thoughts about doing so? I would love for you to check us out and let us know what you think!

I didn't pursue the idea in any meaningful way. My idea was basically expert advice codified into a flow/tree, available on demand through a mobile app. E.g., my kid is behaving badly, so I can go to the app, it asks me the questions my expert would ask me, I easily relay information back to it and receive helpful suggestions (how to control my own temper, how to interpret kids behavior, etc). Bite-sized stuff that you can use in the highly urgent/desperate moments parents find themselves in from time to time.

I bet your company, if successful, would be well positioned to make that at some point in the future. There are some tricky questions there, both in terms of effectiveness and ethics, about using an AI-powered chatbot instead of an actual expert. The experts are still needed but whether we're close to approximating human expert delivery of this type of advice with technology is an interesting question! Again, best of luck and I'll check you guys out.

Interesting ideas - thanks for sharing and for checking us out!

My wife and I had our first kid almost four months ago. Trustle connected us with an amazing coach (Alina!) who’s been amazing at fielding our questions around feeding and sleep. We’re much calmer parents with a happier baby thanks to Trustle.

Thanks for sharing your experience. Alina is fantastic!

Any plans to include children with disabilities? This seems like the perfect service for parents of children with Autism.

My wife is a special education teacher, and she is like an Autism whisperer. She is amazing. It's incredible to see her understand and communicate with nonverbal children. What often appears to be a temper tantrum to most, can actually be a communication effort.

It is a lot of fun to watch her work her magic.

:) That's the magic we hope to recreate.

We support all families! If there is an additional factor (such as autism) we take care to make sure parents see us as a support for them, and not a replacement for whatever supports they have in place for their child. But lots of parents appreciate having a partner in their support system. Lots of our coaches have extensive experience with specific diagnoses.

Some of our best coaches are BCBAs with expertise in ASD. They have such a wonderful understanding of children and behavior, and this can extend to all children. :) As Tom mentioned, we take great care not to replace the very important in person therapy children receive directly.

I would love to help with this. This was one of my team's published ideas when taking a Mastering Design Thinking class at MIT / Emeritus

Please feel free to link up on LinkedIn. linkedin.com/in/ladorabl

I'm based in the San Francisco Bay Area, if you are free to chat over coffee or have a phone/skype conversation.

I've also worked with a couple of friends to help design an ML platform to accelerate learning in the emergent literacy years; starting with Cardinality (learning how to count).

Thanks for posting - very cool! Send us an email at founders@trustle.com :)

> And our support systems have changed dramatically; we’ve often moved away from the close-knit communities and extended families that used to be the norm. And when we go online we see an overwhelming amount of advice that’s often contradictory and just doesn’t feel applicable to our specific situation.

Definitely that is a thing. My kid is 3 - this is something we've wrestled with ourselves. A niche business idea, but I think it has validity. Checking Trustle out!

Yes - the contradicting advice is very real and overwhelming for parents. It is myth that there is "one way" to tackle most parenting things - there are too many factors at play (child temperament, parenting values, etc). Combining evidence-based advised with individualized support can actually help - but a blog/passive content can't do that. Thanks for checking us out! Would love to hear what you think!

There's evidence based works out there, but it's crazy hard to find them. Too much bloviation. As a resource bundle for members, you could offer book packages of known good texts. Possibly also a blacklist of "ideas/works demonstrated to generally be harmful".

I dig the elephant motif, I just like elephants, and it's cute.

Let's see. Working through signup flow.

Picking the Coach - I don't know these people. I'd suggest that the initial assignment be done on Trustle-side. It seems that the essential differentiator of the three options I am initially presented with are the times they are available. Which is _unfair_ to these highly educated professionals IMO. I would like to understand the key differences between one coach and another beyond the statements - despite reading a certain amount of child development works, I don't per se understand clearly the specialist jargon.

The other thing that gives me pause is the cost - I don't have a way to do an evaluation besides dropping $70. Which isn't that much in the grand scheme of things, but it's more than, e.g., a typical dinner for two. I can imagine that there are a wide variety of effective general philosophies and, like talk therapists, some therapists are more effective for some people than others. This feeds back to the prior paragraph - it's easier to be confident in payment if you understand the approach of the coach, that it will work for your family.

This is great feedback - thank you. We've tried giving parents the choice, and us doing the matching (if you want us to match just text 1650 398 4285 and we'll get you set up!) IF we stick with parents' picking, I think finding a way to help the decision making process is really important and we can definitely do a better job of that. Thanks so much for nudging us on this.

On the evaluation - we offer a 30-day no questions asked money-back guarantee. Do you think a 'free intro call' or similar would feel better?

> we offer a 30-day no questions asked money-back guarantee.

So my perspective on that is "I'll forget", because the cancellation is something on my shoulders. I'd rather have a free intake/lightweight coach session, where we feel each other out, and move forward from there, where we get charged if we continue, or not charged if not. That's a model I've seen for talk counseling.

I don't know what's the best for you as a company, though. Pricing is ticklish for consumer services, and I'm sure its even worse for health oriented services.

This is helpful feedback. Thank you. We had the counter feedback off a free call making the service seem low value. Ideally we get the best of both worlds. Easier said than done of course!

I wonder how frequently problems with children, particularly older children like teenagers, are a direct reflection of the parents’ behavior. I have trouble imagining the monumental challenge of trying to fix a child problem when the problem is the parent and the parent blaming the child for that problem.

Lots of interesting points here! A few things as it relates to Trustle. We focus on children 0-5. The process with a teenager would require that the child be MUCH more involved (family therapy would be appropriate). With very young children, it is an awful lot about the parent - not in a blaming way, just that little kids don't have control of their emotions, they are unpredictable, and it's our job to regulate them and teach them how to self-regulate over time. This is actually exactly why we work with parents directly (and truthfully, evidence-based behavioral interventions for young children almost always work with parents too). It's a system, and when kids are really young, parents are leading that system.

I will say lots of our parents are self-aware. They might be frustrated or mystified by their child's behavior (and that's completely fair!), but the fact that they are willing to talk with us means they are open to the idea that they as the parent can change things environmentally and behaviorally to help the child. I think the parents on our service are pretty amazing.

This is great! We have a toddler and it’s great to know something like this exists.

As a suggestion, I’d rather buy a 5 or 10 pack rather than a monthly subscription. We don’t need this every month but expect to use it more than once

Thanks for the suggestion! We do have a single call option, and you can purchase those on an as needed basis without a subscription (but the "pack" idea is really interesting!).

How do I sign up? Where are the prices? Your landing page sent me in loops when I clicked Get Started.

I'm curious who you're targeting with this product. Wealthier families tend to have nannies, who will match expertise with implementation. Middle class send their kids to daycare or after-school programs, who also match expertise and implementation. Since this service is just expertise, who are the families that a) can afford this and b) have the time/energy/money to do the implementation?

Thanks for your comment! It seems some companies have a spam filter on our site that blocks our sign-up and payment sections. Perhaps try on your phone (off a work network). There should be a sign-up flow right away (try this, which might get you all the way to coach match, if it stops, then it's the filter): https://www.trustle.com/challenges/general-support

We support a range of families on Trustle: While lots of parents feel incredibly supported by their wonderful nannies, not all do. And while nannies certainly have expertise in lots of areas, we find that they don't in all domains (this is why lots of people have nannies and talk to their child's teachers or another behavioral health provider). I have even done sessions with parents AND nannies together.

Several of our coaches are educators. And I can strongly say that they are some of the strongest advocates for Trustle and our service. Our educators tell us that in their experience, parents are constantly asking for support during drop-off or parent teacher conferences that relates to challenges at home (rather than school). While the teachers feel they can help somewhat, they don't feel that they have the time and space to fully give the parents the support they need (we hear often from teachers that parents want a 5-minute drop off consult for a challenge that really requires more time).

We are far more affordable than most behavioral health (we are $50 dollars a month for membership which includes call time and unlimited text) and our accessibility by phone and the ability to text your coach makes implementation possible. We support parents to give them back some energy by helping them with accessible and affordable advice to make some changes and tackles challenges.

One thing that has been really exciting is how happy our families are on the service.

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I am working at my office and your assumption that the sign up flow is blocked is probably true. You may want to fix that though, because my company has 75,000+ employees, who would probably sign up or investigate this service while at work.

I think we fixed it! Looks like we had a specific block that we had lifted. Thanks so much for letting us know.

I feel like this is a solution for something that a very specific demographic would actually use. How many parents are involved enough to download an app/pay to solve problems with their kids? Is the advise that much better than what can be found on google?

I believe this limits your use case and the products viability.

- Also, this product would only be needed/used for a specific amount of time in a kids life ( think a 1 year term limit for actually getting paid from your customer during the terrible 2's)

This is kind of a baffling response to me... how many parents are involved enough to download an app or pay for problems with their kids? Really? People download apps for everything, but you think they'd be too lazy to do it for their children? And spending money - you think parents wouldn't pay to help their kids behave better or to solve problems? They already do this - they pay for all kinds of toys/books/devices to keep their kids occupied and out of trouble, they pay for pediatrician visits, they pay for babysitting, and the list goes on.

As for how much better the advice is than what's on Google... getting specific advice on your specific child from someone who is professionally trained and with whom your have a relationship is obviously going to be infinitely better with Google. I can't even understand why that question would be asked.

Love the idea, and I think it's really valuable.

Most parents downloading an app to help solve an issue with their children are parents from a specific demographic, educated, with gainful employment - this limits the demographic that will use this product.

We don't really think of ourselves as an app (although we use an app to facilitate the service right now.) It's direct, personal support that provides the value; the app is the access mechanism.

We have plans to offer different access mechanisms in future to make this accessible to more people.

Our hope (and belief) is that all types of parents will appreciate having access to someone with expertise - how they access them can differ.

(That felt like a very odd way of responding but I hope it makes sense!)

This is indeed pretty depressing.

The ongoing disintegration of the normative human society, loss of extended family structures, and escalating segmentation of what used to be a community to different age and class groups well separated in spacetime is a world-wide disaster with far-reaching ripples.

One of the obvious consequences is for-profit organizations entering the vacuum left by communities. Of course Elizabeth et. al. are not to blame, they cannot fix reality and nor can I.

And yet... this is just depressing.

(I'm Tom, Elizabeth's cofounder) - I agree with the societal reflection. Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam really speaks to this so well.

While one of the changes we think about is that, the more positive one is that we now know SO much about how the young brain develops. We want parents to have access to that in a meaningful way. I often use the healthcare analogy; when someone wants support with their health (whether proactive wellness or reactive treatment) they'll often go to a doctor which is great (and why it's so bad when people don't have healthcare). Raising a child is of course different in many ways, but the internet is awash with generic, impersonal advice whereas we hope to bring back the human connection. We're excited to be able to bring this growing field of expertize to parents in a way that is deeply human at it's heart.

But yes... changes in communities are still depressing.

just to make the obvious explicit - I wish your product and yourself success and by no means suggest you're doing anything wrong or not well-intended.

btw, normative countries provide plenty of help and support, for free, to young first-time parents. This is probably the best investment a society could do, even in terms of purely financial ROI!

Didn't take it that way but thank you for saying that :)

And agree! The organization Zero to Three does a great job advocating for this in the US but we're still way behind.

It's not very long term, but kraamverzorgsters in the Netherlands are a great example!

>The ongoing disintegration of the normative human society, loss of extended family structures, and escalating segmentation of what used to be a community to different age and class groups well separated in spacetime is a world-wide disaster with far-reaching ripples.

My theory is that this is the true price of obtaining financial freedom, and hence actual freedom. Community requires compromise (sometimes unfairly more from some than others). But once the glue of economic dependence on one another is removed, what is the force that would make people compromise? Everyone can do their own thing, which is nice, but seems to have some pretty big unforeseen large scale downsides that are slowly revealing themselves.

Yes, my reaction was pretty much 'Ugh, they'll probably be very successful and make a tonne of money from the 'there's an app for that' generation, but ugh.'

Parent of 3 under 5 here. My personal view – This would only add more pressure to children and parents. Whatever happened to trusting your own instincts? Perhaps as children all grow and develop in such different ways and rates in the early years the best solution is not to try and 'fix' children via experts.

Many parents might be crying out for this kind of service, but I certainly would not be one of them. Hope that helps.

> Whatever happened to trusting your own instincts?

n.b., these instincts are absent in humans in general. what you refer to as instincts are what you were inculcated with through your prior life. Not everything you were inculcated with is de facto healthy. Case in point: one elderly gentleman I spoke with said that his instinct for proper child training is to take a stick and hit a child when they disobey, until the child obeys. He regrets the current society disallowing it.

I wonder too, whether this is a service to help parents to stay sane or is it to help children overcome development hurdles?

Both of these ends are somewhat irrational, with no one right solution. Especially so when it's a health issue, or living environment problem. Health calls for pediatrician attention.

There're already well established meeting point web sites for parents, like whattoexpect.com and similar. Which pretty much sooth parent's worries and give a variety of community-advices. As often as "it's a stage to grow over". And, in personal experience, we parents grow over it together with the kids.

Personally, I see benefit in a variety of resources vs. one central, no matter how expert, point. But I could understand busy parents' desire to source this from a single "curated" and customized place.

I absolutely appreciate this perspective! And, in fact, I agree with you. The aim isn't to diagnose kids or "fix" anything. And we certainly don't want parents to feel like this ads pressure. We want to take the pressure off. A survey from Zero to three shows that nearly half (48%) of parents nationwide report the they do not have the support they need. This is a serious challenge, and also an opportunity. We absolutely want parents to trust their instincts - which is why we don't tell them what to do, we work WITH with them to provide them access to support to tackle challenges that often arise for parents. We recognize not all parents need more support of have any challenges, and that is great too!

Always be challenges.

I think that's generally true for most parents :). And while some have a great support network, unfortunately, not all do.


As a father of 2 I know, it's very frustrating to trust any books, coaches in child development and especially content online.

We are in the Jewish community, most of the friends had many kids, and we could turn for advice. If I didn't have this, I don't know what I would do.

The hardest thing for me would be to trust you to connect me with an expert.

Good luck. It's a hard problem and if it works, you will save a lot of lives and parent's health :)

Thanks for the kind message!

Trust takes time to build definitely - and honestly, we don't do it - we wish we could! The trust-building really starts to happen in the first call when each side gets to know each other (and beyond just the expert's credentials and bio.)

$50/mo seems quite reasonable for the hours of reading it can save. I think this is a great idea.

Thanks - lots of parents say it saves them a ton of time. We have had parents say 'I don't have time to read 5 contradicting books on sleep and potty training, all saying their approach is the best one.' We can help parents sort through the noise, look at their options, and figure out which approach makes the most sense for them.

Hi, looks interesting. I'm still figuring out if it's a good idea for us, but I noticed a typo in the FAQs you probably care about: "By helping you to think proactively about your goals and the environment you want to create to your family"

Thank you! Changed. I also see I said three ways in that FAQ and only have two.

Would love for you to try us! We offer a full 30-day money back guarantee as we know this is something parents want to be confident in.

I hope you guys are recording the mentoring sessions. Developing a bespoke roadmap for a child will show the efficacy of the development plan when compared to metrics and complication rates over an entire cohort. (background: parent and physician scientist)

We think there is a great opportunity to learn about efficacy in child development and parenting practices here, and are very excited by the potential that brings!

would your team be willing to allow anonymized data to be used for analysis/research papers? Or do you have that in place for in-house researchers to publish?

I think we're waayy to early for that but I hope we get to the stage where this is a question :)

My first reaction is that our goal is to support parents and we'd want to be very careful before doing anything with their data. BUT if we can support the field at the same time as being 100% transparent with our families it would be great (e.g. they'd have to explicitly opt-in.)

But again, a great problem for the future :)

Neat idea. I would definitely use it, if you promise that that experts would NOT be from low cost countries like India, Romania etc (why? Because as a person from these countries, I want to learn parenting methods from advanced countries.)

All of our experts are in the United States partially because I have a firm understanding of the various licenses and credentialing they hold, which isn't consistent across countries. Our team of experts is truly amazing! I would love for you to check us out and let me know what you think.

I wonder how this scales up to a highly profitable enterprise while maintaining quality? And how the profit margins will work as I’d guess most or all of the $50 a month goes to staff to take the call.

What's your safeguarding policy? When do you refer families to child protection social services? Do you know the process for doing that in all the places you operate in?

Yes - all of our providers are mandated reporters. We also have manuals and trainings on this process and procedure (but as licensed professionals, they are very familiar with this process, as it is a required part of being a licensed provider).

This is why only a fool would use the service for real problems.

If you can find a way out of that, for example by avoiding knowledge of identity, the service could be safe to use. Maybe you could take payment in a privacy-protecting cryptocurrency (not Bitcoin) and have the users connect with a tor browser.

To clarify, a mandated reporter is a person who has to disclose child abuse if a child is in danger. I think this is an important protection for children. These are the same standards any psychologist, therapist, school, pediatrician etc. are held to. All those service providers are mandated reporters.

Both "danger" and "abuse" are open for interpretation, and some people take "better safe than sorry" to an unhealthy extreme. Your response suggests to me that this is the case with you.

Even if there is a problem, how is it not better to address that? If the parents don't feel safe, they will avoid all those service providers. The kids don't get help if using the service providers is too risky for the parents.

There are actually really clear guidelines on what is reportable and what is not. CPS generally can't and won't do anything beyond take a call if the content of the call doesn't suggest a valid safety concern and meet the guidelines. Any parent talking to any service provider (or educator or doctor) will be talking to someone who follows these same guidelines.

LOL. Maybe.

In any case, there will be no talking if the parent would need to trust you but doesn't. That doesn't help kids.

You can't change the law, but you can avoid having identity information to report. Parts of the solution probably involve non-attributable cryptocurrency and tor browsers.

Thanks for your input!

Question for the founders: what are your experts’ certifications? How are you managing state-by-state laws regarding counseling, be that MFTs or PsyDs?

Our experts have a range of certifications - we have PhD's, mater's level educators with degrees in child development, PsyDs, BCBAs, LMFTs (to name a few). While the state by state laws are changing all the time, the restrictions are around the service provided. Our experts have the background information on child development, and the experience working with families, but we are not providing counseling, therapy or diagnoses on our site. We provide coaching and support for challenges. Professionals are trained to know when to refer out and when they are crossing the line into this territory.

The one legitimate qualification is missing: having had lots of kids. For example: 4 sons, 4 daughters, and at least 10 grandkids.

Child development industry fads come and go, sometimes drifting away from sanity and reality.

Having children is absolutely a valuable experience! We definitely have coaches who have several children. I think this can cut both ways, though. I was a child psychologist before I had my own children. I don't think it dramatically changed the way I support parents. Mostly because I wasn't working from the framework of my personal experience. What I do with my own children is irrelevant when helping a parent (this is the difference between advice and evidence-based information) - and in fact, there is nothing worse than a therapist saying 'well, with MY kids at every turn (it can be helpful, but you have to be careful)....' Having a child gives you lots of experience, but it doesn't make you an expert in child development (it does help when working with parents, and a LOT of parents appreciate when our coaches have several kids of their own). Also, there are often many ways to get to a goal, and it varies by the child, parent and family. Professionals can often speak to a range of choices (think: sleep) rather than just their own personal experience.

I should also say that we have parents on our service who have 5 children, and tell us each is different, and they still appreciate the support and wisdom.

How do these experts deal with cultural factors? Would the matching take into account the general culture that the parents are exposed to?

I appreciate this really important question. I think the same way that psychologists, therapists, and teachers do. There is absolutely something powerful about a shared cultural experience with a provider, and we are keeping diversity on the forefront of our mind when hiring, recruiting, and onboarding coaches (it's also a reason that we allow parents to choose their own coach, rather than assigning them). The second is that our professionals, like all licensed professionals in education and the helping professions, are trained to be able to work with a variety of people, and cultural competence is emphasized (it's often a required component of training, education, and continuing education). We screen for cultural competency and the ability to work with a diverse range of parents. That being said, we know at the cultural match is important, and this is a real issue that exists in the helping professions. We hope that Trustle will actually provide a platform for increased opportunity and availability of diverse coaches (as opposed to being confined by who lives in your immediate area).

Hamburger menu and drop down menu seems to be broken in Chrome 80.0.3987.132

Thx much. Is that on mobile or just a really small desktop? I just tried desktop on 80.0.3987.132 and mobile on 80.0.3987.95 and can't reproduce. Can you send a screenshot to catalin@trustle?

Congrats, really interesting!

Thanks :)

Remove this.

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