How much do you value the advice of a stranger?
Sensay is betting that you care quite a bit about the opinion of a rando. The service lets users text a specific phone number with a question (like “what’s the best pizza in Brooklyn” or “where can I get a haircut in Santa Fe”), after which that user is instantly connected to a stranger who might have an answer.
Users sign up to be a part of the service and note any areas of expertise that might pertain to them, like a sports fan, fitness junkie, foodie or beer snob, or add their own custom areas of expertise. The team calls them “hats” or “tribes.” Once the user has selected all the hats that they wear, tribes to which they belong, etc., they are sent a text message from the Sensay service.
Users can save that number to their phone and text it whenever they have a question, starting the text with the word “Need.”
The system intelligently decides who would have the best answer to the question and connects that user with a Sensay in a separate text thread, hiding the phone numbers of both parties. Conversation ensues. Questions are answered. Epiphanies are had.
Then the users rate each other, potentially receiving Sensay coins for the tag-team effort. Folks with questions can also tip their Sensays with the virtual currency when impressed with an answer.
After ratings are given and tips are exchanged, Sensay closes down the conversation so that the users are no longer accessible to each other.
“We’re not facing a technical challenge, but rather a psychological challenge,” said co-founder Crystal Rose. “We grew up with our mothers telling us not to talk to strangers, and now we’re living in the stranger economy. The greatest challenge for us is finding the vocabulary to explain that the person who may have the best help for you isn’t necessarily someone you know.”
Sensay says that 50 percent of users overlap between asking questions and being a Sensay.
Eventually, the team envisions generating revenue off of professional Sensays, which could theoretically receive real currency instead of virtual currency for helping out users. But it goes beyond that.
The company is also looking at ways to include a “refer” or “buy” button that would integrate with various on-demand companies or brands to go from answering questions to completing requests. So, for example, a user would text a Sensay about a recommendation for the fastest way to get a little black dress for an event tonight, and that conversation might include a Rent The Runway referral link.
Sensay is currently taking sign-ups for its wait list. You can check it out here.