We can work it out: Audrey Melnik founded WotWentWrong.com, a San Francisco-based social media platform where anonymous users can crowdsource relationship advice from strangers or find out why their ex just wasn't that into them.
Nowhere man: After what Melnik thought was a great first date, her potential suitor vanished. She wondered why, but didn't want to stalk him; besides, she says, "you're not necessarily going to get the feedback you want by contacting that person directly." A former IT consultant, Melnik decided to apply online technology to this universal dating dilemma.
Hello, goodbye: Melnik began working on WotWentWrong in July 2011, contracting web developers as needed and bootstrapping the project with her savings. The site launched in January 2012, billed as a service for daters who've been "passively dumped."
Registered users can choose from customizable templates that WotWentWrong will e-mail or text to their ex.
The exes, who don't have to register to reply, can craft a response from prefab explanations (e.g., "Something's missing," "We're a mismatch") or list reasons of their own. For added incentive, WotWentWrong suggests that the person requesting the feedback privately rate the ex's conversation skills, fashion sense and bedroom talents; curious exes who have completed the initial feedback request can then see how they measured up.
Come together: As Melnik quickly discovered, unless users had multiple exes, there was no reason for them to return to the site. "It was too transactional," she says. To fill this gap, WotWentWrong rolled out several social media features last October. Users can blog anonymously about dating predicaments, war stories and even the occasional happy ending. Through tools such as public polls and comments, they can also crowdsource relationship advice. "I'm single myself, and I have situations where I think, I'm not really sure what to do here," says Melnik, explaining the value of seeking objective counsel.
Since morphing into a Facebook for those who want to dish on relationships, WotWentWrong's user retention has blossomed. The average length of user visits and average page clicks have doubled. Nearly 40 percent of repeat visitors return to the site at least eight times in a three-month period; 16 percent return more than 25 times in the same time frame.
Help! I need somebody: Most users are ages 25 to 40. Melnik initially expected more women than men to flock to the site's breakup feedback and anonymous blogging features, but it's actually equal. And not everyone frequenting the site has been dumped. "We do have quite a few people in relationships just wanting to share what's going on for them and give advice to others," she says.
Can't buy me love: WotWentWrong is currently free to use. Melnik is in discussion with an angel investor for a $500,000 infusion, which she will put toward upgrading the site and adding a paywall for premium services. She's also speaking with relationship experts and therapists about partnership opportunities.