28 Oct 2014
The First Five Years: Nick Soman (MBA 2010)
Reveal Founder and CEO Nick Soman
on curing loneliness, the benefits of defeat, and why he wishes he had jumped into startup life soonerTopics:
Photo by Kyle Kesterson
What was the inspiration behind Reveal?
“The inspiration for Reveal happened in 2009 during my second year at HBS. I got an illness called GBS (Guillain-Barré Syndrome) that stripped the protein sheaths around my nerves so they couldn’t take signals from my brain. I became fully paralyzed and was in intensive care for four months and rehab for another six. I’m fully recovered now, but it was lonely and eye-opening; I realized I’m going to die someday, and decided to start a company to cure loneliness, which became Reveal.”
Why do you think a resource/app like this is needed?
“Reveal connects you instantly to an anonymous chat with someone new, and you can choose to share your name or photo if you become comfortable. We think the best way to cure loneliness is to give you someone relevant to talk to at any time. And we’ve learned that connecting instantly with someone new only feels good if you are in control of the information you share.”
What have been the best and most challenging parts of launching your company?
“The most challenging and best parts are the same—building a company is hard, so the learning curve is incredible. Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, ‘The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.’ Every day brings bigger opportunities and challenges, and I get to take on both with an amazing team.”
What do you know now about starting a company that you wish you had known then?
“I wish I knew how much fun this was, and that you don’t have to get everything right. I would have started sooner.”
How do you use what you learned at HBS in this work?
“HBS is full of capable and competitive people, with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. It’s the best preparation for team building I’ve seen.”
What was your favorite HBS case, and why?
“Toyota Motor Manufacturing had good lessons on systems thinking and building a learning organization.”
What advice do you have for current HBS students thinking about launching their own companies?
“Find a great work partner, find a great life partner, and over-communicate like hell.”
Can you finish this statement? “Reveal Chat is…”
“My first company.”
Follow Nick Soman on Twitter at https://twitter.com/nicksoman.
For more information on Reveal, go to https://www.revealchat.com/.
Class of MBA 2010, Section A