Samira: Can you explain the gist of the app and your inspiration for it?
Jake Levine: BreakupText is an app that makes it easier to break up with people via text message, and I guess the first thing I should say is it’s a total joke. There are a couple of bloggers and folks in the press who are writing about it as if it were actually a way to break up with people and saying like, ‘we recommend not using this app, but instead we recommend a face to face conversation,’ which is pretty funny.
Samira: What advice would you give to someone who was trying to create their own startup after graduation, or trying to make a successful app like you did?
Jake: I would say, “call me.” Call somebody who’s doing it. I’m thinking in terms of when I was at Wesleyan, the best thing I did was talk to people who were doing what I wanted to be doing. In reality I had no idea what that actually was. The two things that I would say are: talk to people, like find alumni that are in the field. You can email any alumni and there is a very high chance that they will e-mail you back. I probably meet with Wesleyan students or recent graduates like once a week. I think it’s true of Wesleyan alumni that they will take time to help younger current students or recent graduates. Number two, learning how to design an application is not rocket science; in fact, there are tools you can use today that make it so much easier than it has been in the past. If there are students on campus that are entrepreneurial or eager to be entrepreneurial or eager to understand what entrepreneurship means, building your own software is a lot easier than they think.
Samira: How did your Wesleyan experience inspire you to work at a tech startup?
Jake: There are so many Wesleyan people in technology and when we get together to do Digital Wesleyan events, this is often a topic of conversation: how did we all end up here? What about Wesleyan made it likely for us to end up in technology and startups and digital media? The best explanation that I can come up with is that Wesleyan students are creative; they like to build things and make things that don’t look like what already exists; they like challenging existing institutions and companies and ways of doing things, and they like doing so with personality and with a strong sense of where they see themselves in the world. They thrive when they have an opportunity most of all to be creative, and that for many people is why startups are so attractive.