What: Everest is a platform to inspire and empower people to live their dreams. From learning a new language, to getting in the best shape of their life, to reinventing the doughnut, Everest helps people break goals into small steps, get support and accountability, and beautifully capture their journey.
Where: San Francisco, CA
Who: We spoke to Katherine Krug, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at Everest.
What was the hunch that got you started?
My co-founders and I were inspired to start Everest by our own life experiences. Francis Pedraza worked on a project called DoBand, which activated people to be agents of social change, instead of passive participants. Victor Mathieux created A Goal Planner, a printed product that helps people define their goals and provides motivation for pursuing them. My inspiration drew from my childhood as a hyper-competitive gymnast: by 8 years old, I had a system in place for setting short-term, mid-term and long-term goals. I prioritized the activities that meant the most to me and created a process for breaking down my goals into small steps I could take each day. By ten, I was as close to living up to my potential as I’ve come!
As a team, we acknowledge that everybody on this planet has dreams, aspirations and goals. Most people attempt to reach their dreams, struggle and give up, repeating the cycle until it just feels safer not to try at all. But you see examples every day of people doing exactly what you dream of, and rarely is it because they possess some innate ability you don’t. We see Everest as a digital catalyst for positive change in people’s lives. We’re trying to help people break through their self-imposed limitations by defining their dreams, creating a process for achieving them and surrounding themselves with people who will support and inspire them. We can’t achieve people’s dreams for them, but we can be a spark to get them that much closer.
What have you learned? How have you failed? How have you had to pivot?
Our major task now is managing the shift from early-adopters to the larger market, or doers to dreamers as we call them. We’ve been lucky enough to get early adopters who are very passionate about Everest, but a product which works for them them can be subtly different from one which works well for people who have dreams, but aren’t sure where to start.
There are two things we’re focusing on right now. First, we’re really working to simplify the product: streamlining features and making the product more intuitive. Second, when we launched we were focused on making the individual user experience great. Now we are developing the ways in which people help each other achieve their goals, and expanding our social features.
What is your team like? Company Culture?
At Everest, our culture is about pushing yourself personally and professionally each day. We spend a lot of time, energy and money supporting people’s pursuit of their dreams. When we launched in December, instead of giving bonuses or traditional presents, we helped everyone on the team pursue their dreams: one engineer got DJ lessons to help him throw a silent disco party, another got a roundtrip ticket to pursue his dream of visiting 30 countries by the time he turned 30 and another got a health coach to help him build the perfect health regime.
We bring physicality into our days. We go rock climbing as a team each Monday and we do push-ups after every meeting or visitor arrival. One of our engineers is about to reach his goal of 100 in a row! We sail, meditate, workout, hike and bike together. It gives the team energy and creativity boosts, but more importantly a chance to push and support each other as friends and teammates. As a product and company, it’s important that Everest reflects not just our hopes for our users, but our hopes for ourselves.
What is your plan for monetization?
We see that our community has dreams that need support from others—and there are amazing brands out there that can really help people achieve their goals. We’re creating a positive ecosystem where our community is helped by brands and the brands are able to engage with new and loyal customers in ways that are much more engaging than traditional advertising.
Everest is currently developing high-quality content for brands like Levi’s, Quiksilver, and AirBnB, including suggested steps and challenges. For example, Quiksilver challenges the community to Ride your first wave and acts as a guide, with suggested steps to ensure each participant has a great experience. The impression is quite powerful compared to paid search or social advertising. In the future, Everest will help its community with gear recommendations and ordering: if Ryan has a dream to “Climb Mt. Everest,” the app will intelligently recommend what he needs and offer one tap purchasing.
What can brands learn from you?
We have been pushed to verticalize our product, and it’s something that we’ve consistently stood against. People are incredibly dynamic. Someone with a running dream may also have a cooking dream, or a dream to be a great father, or want to buy their first house. It’s important to think about people holistically rather than in a segmented way.
Also, so many apps use shallow feedback loops and dish quick dopamine hits to drive engagement. We are working hard to create a product that has tremendous value in people’s lives, even getting them off their phones (and the app!) and into the real world living their dreams.