You may never have a mansion quite like Oprah, but now you can chat with her favorite interior designer, Nate Berkus, for a fee, of course.
A new app, Introduction, lets anyone book one-on-one video calls with industry experts for advice in areas ranging from fashion and beauty to interior design, event planning and business development. While some users can book a session for a quick and specific question, the platform has been developed to also allow users to replicate a full counseling experience. Calls are offered in 15, 30, 45 and 60 minute increments; with some experts, like Forma Pilates founder Liana Levi, starting at $100 for 15 minutes, while Berkus and other household names charge upwards of $500. (New users get $10 off their first session.)
Founded in late 2021 by Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Raad Mobrem, Intro was built on a desire to “democratize access” to industry experts — a goal inspired by a chance encounter Mobrem had with the founder of the Kinko copy chain, Paul Orfalea, when he was only 18 years old. Mobrem, who previously worked as a consultant at Delta Airlines and led the product team at Intuit, credits this brief conversation with much of his success. “In the 15 minutes we had, I asked him about entrepreneurship, and he shared some key lessons that inspired me and gave me the confidence to start my own entrepreneurial journey,” explains Mobrem. (Orfalea, by the way, is also available to chat via Intro; 15 minutes will cost you $275.)
Intro isn’t exactly a one-of-a-kind product; at this point, there’s pretty much an entire cottage industry of fan-celebrity communications. On Master class, Annie Leibovitz teaches photography while Serena Williams coaches tennis. And on Cameo, fans can order custom videos from Mark McGrath and David Koechner. The difference with Intro is applicability: Intro focuses on tangible, actionable feedback, not meeting your idols and inspiration. (No offense to Serena et al., but these Masterclass lessons aren’t really designed to turn you into a pro athlete; they’re more about general life advice. And most Cameo sessions get lost on the internet within days. .) Most Intro Experts don’t accept small-scale projects from new clients and can’t be booked anywhere else online, so unless you’re Oprah or a Kardashian, this app may be your only chance. you have to access this higher level Talent.
The platform is backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six (Ohanian, known for co-founding Reddit, is a platform expert), CAA founder Michael Ovitz, and an undisclosed network of celebrities , athletes and CEOs. On the homepage, there is a form to apply to become an Expert, which notes that Experts have the opportunity to earn up to $500,000 per year using the platform. Intro takes a 30% commission from experts.
I had the opportunity to test the service and chose to chat with Shawn Henderson, an interior designer, featured on Architecture compendium prestigious AD100 list, with over 20 years of experience. On Intro, Henderson’s 15-minute sessions start at $199 (one hour costs you $765). Henderson told me he tries to do about six sessions a month, balancing them between larger-scale projects and summer travel. He worked with clients over five or more sessions, recording themselves as they remodeled and purchased furniture according to his suggestions. After scheduling a weekday afternoon, we hopped on video conferencing in the Intro app and immediately started discussing design. With a countdown timer at the top of your video call, it’s hard not to want to make the most of every second.
I showed Henderson around my house so he could get a feel for my design style before showing him the laundry room I wanted to focus on. I explained my problem: My washer and dryer were taking up too much space at the bottom of my stairwell; as it was already an eyesore, I felt encouraged to leave heaps of laundry around them. Henderson immediately got to work, sketching out ideas for swapping my side-by-side washer and dryer for a stackable unit, moving them up against the far wall via a (possibly expensive) plumbing fix and creating space for cabinetry. It also featured options for a sink and drying rack or a folding counter. He then explained another option, where I could create an enclosed laundry room, rather than an open space, by using a pocket door. He wasn’t able to provide quotes, but he quoted specific websites and brands to find wallpaper for the back wall and durable floor paint to cover my unsightly tile floor in the area. .
None of Intro’s experts communicate with customers outside of the app, including sending links or providing sketch scans. When I asked Henderson how it worked, he quickly explained that his Intro clients take detailed notes. I ended up with some notes from our call and screenshots of his sketches; but more than anything, a confidence in the ideas that I already vaguely had. As I move forward with this renovation, I might show the screenshot to a contractor, but I’ll have to do more formal drawings based on Henderson’s advice. Intro’s app does not allow chatting or exchanging images.
After exhausting all the details I could get from the video call about my laundry room, I asked him about a brilliant idea I had in mind for a long time: putting a freestanding tub in my bedroom. Here, in the last three minutes of our videoconference, I was looking for a professional opinion and a gut reaction, not a sketch or a mockup. Henderson, who had already noted the style of the bathroom faucet and the general decor of my home, urged me not to opt for a traditional English telephone faucet. “You don’t want a themed room,” he explained. Something more transitional would suit my space better. I would have loved to scroll through the options with it and select them together, but that touch tip was enough to bring me back to the drawing board when planning this addition.
If you’ve done your own research, created your Pinterest boards, and DIYed as far as you can, Intro may be the last step you need to check out a few ideas before embarking on a renovation project, a new routine. fitness, or a dramatic new hairstyle. Would I have paid Henderson $199 to confirm my tub suspicion? Probably not, but I appreciated his openness to deviate from the initial subject.
For business development, Intro more directly replicates a consultancy, giving business owners the opportunity to practice pitching on Ohanian and other industry stalwarts. Who knows, in a few years Intro might use a success story of a young entrepreneur who used the app to promote his services. That, or they’ll need compelling “before and after” photos of kitchen renovations.