Debbie Levitt
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Debbie Levitt

Debbie pioneered website development back when most people were wondering what AOL was. Her passions are in UX, interaction design, usability, and how to use those to make lives and businesses better.

San Francisco, California, United States
Member since July 21, 2012
UX, IxD, Startup Founder, Musician, Karaoke Queen, Geek (in no particular order) Quote_down
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1993 Tufts , BA , Music

I am a(n):


If you are an entrepreneur, why?

I want to change the world.

My favorite startups:

eBay and PayPal back in 1998.

What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?

The rewards are constant. I nearly cried when I found out a college-age female friend of mine was using our MVP when she rode her bike to and from work. I love knowing I made someone's life better. Frustrations... I lucky don't have too many of those. I think the main one would be when people assume that CheckInOn.Me is one of the many panic button apps out there. Our technology offers so much more, and with our API, ours will be the technology all those panic buttons should integrate!

What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs make?

Asking users the wrong questions or leading questions. As a UX person, I know that how you interview someone affects the answers you get. The trick is to have as little junk science as possible, and create a space where people can honestly answer open questions.

What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?

Don't be afraid to change. I thought our MVP would be perfection. Users loved the idea, and wanted to use it, but didn't like using a website to do it. They wanted smartphone apps. That was an executional pivot, and I was afraid of it at first. Now, I'm wildly excited about it!

Full bio

When Debbie was 4, she wanted a dog and to run her own company. All of her playtime was spent pretending she ran a company called "As Was." Nobody was too sure what As Was did, but there were mountains of forms to be filled out, letters to type, and deliveries to accept.

In 1995, Debbie formed her first company and yes, she called it "As Was." As Was lives on as a website development company with 8 people doing most of the work. As Was is best known as designers and consultants to some of the most successful eBay sellers on the planet. Debbie brought UX principles to eBay selling, and spoke at all of eBay's major conferences from 2004-2008. She also gave the session on UX and customer service at PayPal's X Innovate conference in 2010.

As someone obsessed with UX and interaction design, Debbie is usually helping other companies and startups with their messages, process flows, and usability. But in 2009, the project was looking at her in the mirror.

In 2009, Debbie was single and living alone when she realised that if she came home late (or not at all) from an online date or business meeting, who would know and when would they know? She set up code words with friends, and had them text her every X minutes while she was on dates or at appointments. Once the friend got the "I'm OK" or "I'm Not OK" code word, they'd know it was really Debbie, and if she were OK.

In 2010, Debbie decided that this was a service anybody could use for any reason, and started planning how it would work. She registered CheckInOn.Me, and started writing a developer spec for Rich Brooks, a programmer she worked with for years.

Debbie can still be found living with cats, now in San Francisco. She sings karaoke in bad areas, and uses CheckInOn.Me to check on her when walking back to the transit station. Debbie met her boyfriend using online dating. She's passionate about making people safer, more confident, and bringing peace of mind to the friends, family, and co-workers of the men, women, and children CheckInOn.Me will be looking after.