How many times has a guy not called you back or just disappeared off the face of the earth or said he is more of a loner? Or did he use the classic, “It’s not you, i’s me.” This one of the most frustrating things in relationships and it leaves you totally confused and closure-less. But what if there was a way you could find out exactly why he or she was just not that into you? And what if you could turn that into a business? Well entrepreneur Audrey Melnik did just that. She is the founder and developer of WotWentWrong, a new online venture offering closure and answers for relationships past – and a blueprint for future dating success – directly from one’s former partners. Match.com may be the yenta of the online world, but Audrey could be the closure goddess.
Passionate about the intersection of internet technology and business, Melnik has successfully developed and enhanced the online businesses for both corporate and government clients in the U.S. and Australia, including Pfizer, Yellow Pages and GE Money. In 2006 she was instrumental in helping Australian career-building website LinkMe evolve from startup to $10 million valuation in six months. Audrey credits her time in New York City and all the relationship fun she had here (New Yorkers really are the best) as well as the thriving tech community as her inspiration for WotWentWrong. She hopes the web app will help people from both sides of a relationship learn and grow. Melnik received a Bachelor of Business Systems on scholarship from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, where she currently resides. We chatted with Audrey for a bit about how the hell this business works,
The Grindstone: Did you always picture yourself being an entrepreneur growing up?
My parents and grandparents were entrepreneurs and I saw a lot of examples of entrepreneurship in my community growing up, which made it a lot easier to imagine that one day I would also follow that path. To me it represented the freedom to follow my own lifestyle choices rather than the traditional 9 to 5 routine that is enforced by many jobs.
The Grindstone: How did you come up with the idea for WotWentWrong?
I’ve often thought how incongruous it is that we spend so much time and effort improving our skills for our vocations and getting feedback on our work performance so we can improve for the future, and yet, it’s so very different when we think of applying those same concepts to our personal relationships. It’s not widely acceptable to request and give feedback in our personal relationships and so we often move on from these failed romantic scenarios none-the-wiser as to what went wrong.
So when I experienced a situation that so many people do, where I had a perfectly good date never to hear from him again, I wanted to come up with a socially acceptable and positive way to learn from that experience so I could improve for next time, or at the very least get closure.
The Grindstone: Were you very scared to leave your IT job?
Not really- In a way I was lucky, because I had already left the safety of a permanent job many years before and was used to working for myself. It wasn’t as scary to stop working (and forego the guaranteed salary that comes along with it), and I had acquired enough funds from my consulting work to fund the development of WotWentWrong.
The Grindstone: Is it tough to be a woman in IT? Any sexist or sexual harassment horror stories?
I’ve never really felt that my gender was a disadvantage in the IT space; in fact, quite the opposite. For starters, because IT is quite male-dominated, it means that the work environments are relatively less catty and gossipy than a more female dominated environment. I also feel that as a female I bring a different perspective to the projects I work on than if the project was entirely populated by males.
The Grindstone: How did you raise the money for this startup? Was it difficult?
I have 100% bootstrapped the endeavor thus far. This has allowed me the freedom to develop WotWentWrong in the direction I have, which is great, but it certainly doesn’t reflect so well on my bank account! I’m now in San Francisco looking to raise a Seed Round for WotWentWrong and take it to the next level.
The Grindstone: Was it essential to travel the world to find the right development team?
Australia, where I’m from, has some fantastic developers. And I would have loved to get some of them on my team. However, as a bootstrapper, I was conscious of the cost of development and wanted to have a great outcome, with the best price. Australian developers are amongst the most expensive in the world. Australian dollar to US dollar, our salaries are higher, and then add in the fact that the Australian dollar is worth more than the US dollar meant that I might be able to find what I needed from outside of Australia at a better price.
Last year, when I started WotWentWrong, I was already planning to spend some time in Israel and I was aware that Israel had a vibrant tech scene, so I decided to recruit my developers from there.