Founder Stories: Michael Brizendine of Yornest Makes Group Chats More Bearable

Ping! Ping! PING! It’s the sound of your Facebook Messenger app going nuts after you’ve been added to yet another group chat. In this situation, many of us would hit the “mute” button, or leave the conversation entirely. Being all too familiar with this, Michael Brizendine was inspired to create Yornest as a modern alternative to mass emailing and instant messaging for online communities. By allowing users to interact with posts and events within threads, rather than the main feed, their feeds aren't overwhelmed with redundant information. Read on to find more about this Keyhorse-backed company’s origin story, and how they are approaching group chats differently. 


How did you become interested in mass communications and group messaging in particular?

As a student, I was part of many group chats with 100s-1000s of members. Usually the ones that grew larger went stale, due to most members muting or leaving. It was then that I quickly realized group chat applications are not suitable for large growing communities. We created Yornest as an alternative chat application by enabling communities to scale their communication.

What inspired you to start Yornest?

The thing that truly inspired me to start Yornest was seeing the struggle of my own friends with group chat. We all were looking for engagement, but constantly kept running into disengagement because once a group chat got too large, people either muted it or left the conversation. The alternative solutions out there were either the same as the current product we were using, or worse. So that’s when I realized, as a software engineer I need to do something about this issue, and I started Yornest. 

Tell us about your team: Who’s on it, and how did you meet?

My team is made up of me and my co-founder Shaquile Noor. We both are engineers and designers, which is a perfect combination for us to be product focused and fast at finding the right solution through overnight iterations of the product. We met via a friend of ours who is also a software engineer, and from there we simply hit it off. 

"We created Yornest as an alternative chat application by enabling communities to scale their communication."

Where do you see group communication headed in the near future?

The group communication space is crowded right now. There are a ton of interesting, and well-executed communication tools out there. Whether it be for community-building (Discord, Groupme), work (Slack) or general chit-chat (Whatsapp), there are definitely fantastic tools for people to use. However, in all of these examples (and beyond), the focus is either on 1-1 chats, or very small-scale groups (think 10-50 people). Our goal looks to allow community builders to facilitate potentially infinitely sized groups, scaling our UX in a very similar way to how we’d scale our technology. We have spoken to the founders of some of the above apps, as well as hundreds of community leaders who agree this is definitely still an issue in need of a solution.

What does success look like to Yornest in the short term and long term?

Short term success for us is being able to stay focused and consistent at building out our solution, and overcome any short term problems that we run into on a day to day basis. I think issues relating to communications, and the need for better tools as innovations progress, will grow larger and larger. For us long term success is being able to place ourselves in the position to meet those needs for communities. 

Find out more about Yornest at Are you a startup based in or looking to relocate to Kentucky? Keyhorse’s current quarterly investment cycle is open until June 30th! Apply now.

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