Ben Fischer is the founder of Lighthouse, a social app that allows users to broadcast to their friends that they’re free for a call — no phone tag, no scheduling, no back-and-forth. Lighthouse enables the spontaneous moments of connection and conversation that are usually impossible at a distance.
Ben was a student at Stanford until last spring, when he took a leave of absence to focus full-time on Lighthouse. The beta version of the app launched last September, and the full version is coming this spring.
In our chat, Ben shares how he launched the product and company from scratch, differentiating from other social apps, and how lessons from the beta are informing the full version of the app.
Tell us how Lighthouse got started.
Like millions of college students around the country, I was abruptly sent home from Stanford last March when the world shut down. I was living in Israel, on the other side of the world, suddenly cut off from my friends, my community, and my social circle that I was just starting to build in my freshman year of college.
Growing up, I moved around a ton so I was used to maintaining long-distance friendships. But there was something about my college experience that wasn’t translating online — something unique and hard to pin down. After a while I realized I was missing the experience of leaving my dorm room door open and having a random friend walk in, or going to grab a coffee, or stopping by a professor’s office hours — all those moments of spontaneity. I wanted a way for my friends to know when I was free to call — to not have to deal with all the phone tag that was so quickly becoming so routine in our online lives. I wanted a solution, and that’s how Lighthouse started.
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