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Building together in public

Feb 26, 2021 · 4 min read

YaYa product logo

Six strangers met last weekend and launched YaYa, a peer coaching platform for women with over 780 sign-ups in 36 hours. We even won multiple awards at the Global Build Weekend run by On Deck, a community of founders, writers, creators, and other exceptional people grow together.

And we did it all in public.

An example screen on YaYa's mobile app

An example screen on YaYa's mobile app

It’s my first time building a weekend project with over 2 people. It’s my first time working in an all-woman team of six. It’s my first time sharing intimate details of the project in public as we’re building it.

That made all the difference.

How it started

Our Build Weekend started on a Thursday. Over 80 people shared their ideas in a Slack channel including Jackie.

Jackie's initial idea as she was searching for a team to build with

Jackie's initial idea as she was searching for a team to build with

Jackie’s simple ask resonated with the six of us. We’d all burned out before.

In fact, we shared our burnout stories in our first meetings with each other, and that vulnerability instantly connected us and ignited our passion for this mission. We then discovered in our research that 1 in 4 working women experience burnout (McKinsey & Company, Women in the Workplace 2020).

Why is that?

Why do so many women experience burnout? Was it always like this?

It feels weird to say that we can burn out today when our great-grandmothers couldn’t marry for love, our grandmothers couldn’t vote, and our mothers couldn’t be leaders.

The women of the past had limited choices. They may not have been happy, but they just had to deal with it.

We’re living in an unprecedented time of choice. We don’t have to deal with things as they are. We can change them.

But choosing to be happy is harder than it sounds. Especially when there are so many choices to evaluate.

A woman recently shared with Paula, “I just wish I could talk to my future self in 5 years and let her decide.”


YaYa translates to “woman” in Ancient Greek. Today, the Greeks bestow that title to grandmothers, or women that have achieved the highest level of womanhood.

When we were building our app, we realized any woman can be a YaYa for another woman.

Something that one woman is good at might just be the very thing that another woman needs. Everyone is equally valuable.

Kyleigh and I taught each other how to use Glide (a platform that let’s you build products without coding!) based on our experiences with similar technologies. Amanda and Carin power-teamed as resident word magicians to research and build incredibly thoughtful user surveys and the pitch deck. Jackie supported Paula and I as we practiced the pitch to the judges. In a moment of vulnerability, Amanda ended her social media hiatus over the weekend to support our build in public efforts and slayed!

We all challenged each other to a higher level of transparency and vulnerability as we practiced skills that other team members taught us.

We were our own circle of YaYas.

A wider circle of love

We also shared our progress openly to our personal and professional networks. Our traction surged.

We discovered a wider circle of YaYas. These were the women who responded so thoughtfully and supportingly on the channels we shared our building journey on. These were also the men that reached out to share YaYa with the women in their lives that were burning out.

YaYa's wall of love

YaYa's wall of love

Building by yourself is possible. Building with others is energizing. Building in public is compounding.

Last weekend was crazy fun.

We all stepped up to try things we feared doing.

We became vulnerable with each other and on stage.

And bonded closer to each other.


I highly recommend On Deck to anyone that wants to build cool things with amazing people.

Some exceptional projects that came out of the Build Weekend include: Nyaaya - an Indian legal aid contract automation platform, Ollie - an AI storytelling app for bedtime with your kids, Shuffle - bite-sized networking for creators, and Microbrave - a toolkit for building in public.

P.P.S. I might end my social media hiatus just to build in public on twitter.