Founder Spotlight: Claire Wiley WG22

5 min readDec 18, 2023


“One key insight we’ve gained is the “straw that broke the camel’s back” phenomenon: seemingly small relationship issues often accumulate to become big problems. And couples wait an average of 6 years of being unhappy before seeking help.”

Meet Claire Wiley WG22, Co-Founder of Maia, a relationship coach in your pocket. From planning dates and working on couple goals to tackling conflicts and becoming better communicators, Maia is your personalized AI wellness app.

Claire began exploring entrepreneurship while at Wharton and focused on love and relationships, an area that had personal meaning and a particular void: proactive relationship coaching. Realizing that most of us aren’t taught how to be good partners and tend to wait to seek resources only when things are bad, Claire sought to develop a solution. Maia was born from a project she worked on during a summer internship. She applied many concepts she learned from her MBA classes including A/B testing, finding PMF and of course, being scrappy.

Prior to Wharton, Claire worked in investment banking then private equity. While she enjoyed the intellectual challenge of late-stage investing, Claire became enamored with the startup world during her time in San Francisco. Wharton was the perfect opportunity to explore entrepreneurship within an environment that encouraged calculated risk-taking. The network Claire built at Wharton facilitated her transition from finance to tech, empowering her to take the leap into entrepreneurship.

Claire and her co-founder, Ralph Ma, connected through Y Combinator’s co-founder matching platform after she spent seven months searching for the perfect partner for Maia. They immediately bonded over shared backgrounds as first-generation immigrants from divorced families, which allowed them to establish a deep rapport right off the bat. Ralph’s growth mindset, passion for building relationships, and expertise in machine learning made him the perfect match for who Claire was looking for. After a couple of short sprints together, he committed to joining Claire full-time at Maia. Side note: Claire has a lot of failed co-founder dating stories, so connect with her if you can benefit from them!

What makes Maia stand out? Personalized suggestions based on your profile and interactions, all in one platform to provide what you need in one place, and group and individual chats to support the whole relationship.

Tell us a bit about your company

Maia is an AI relationship wellness app that combines personalized coaching and a range of interactive features to help couples build stronger relationships. From mediated group chats to personalized date planning, Maia makes it easier for couples to connect, communicate, and grow together.

What is your funding stage?

Has been bootstrapped — we got accepted into YC’s W24 batch.

What inspired you to start your business — what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?

While at Wharton, I wanted to explore entrepreneurship in a space that I deeply care about: love and relationships. I noticed a significant gap in tools that focus on proactive relationship wellness, particularly tailored for busy couples like many in our community. To test my hypothesis, I built a relationship coaching program, and the feedback from users showed me that most couples want to be better partners but only seek help when they’re on the brink of crisis. That’s the void Maia aims to fill. We want Maia to be a daily resource for couples to strengthen their relationships consistently, not just a reactive measure for rough patches. It’s like having a personalized AI relationship coach in your pocket.

What is it about your personal background, experience, or perspective that fuels your passion for this venture?

As a first-generation immigrant who grew up through multiple divorces, I’ve always been curious to explore what sustains a relationship. Through personal and couples therapy, I realized the gap in our education: we’re not taught how to be good partners for our most impactful relationship. That’s the void Maia aims to fill. My co-founder Ralph and I want to make Maia an indispensable tool that helps couples nurture their relationship in a proactive and meaningful way.

What are one or two of the biggest wins or most encouraging experiences you’ve had so far?

One of the most encouraging experiences we’ve had with Maia is the range of positive feedback from our beta users. Users have thanked Maia for not only making fun date nights suggestions and creating new conversations, but also for being a proactive and accessible mediator in navigating tougher, more sensitive discussions between couples. The feedback pushed us to iterate fast and officially launch our product in the app store this month.

Another major win for us has been our recent acceptance into Y Combinator’s W24 batch. We had been bootstrapping Maia since its inception, so being funded now by YC not only offers us the opportunity to grow the company and learn from industry experts, but also allows me to represent women founders in tech, something I’m also incredibly passionate about.

What has been one or two of your biggest learnings so far?

One key insight we’ve gained is the “straw that broke the camel’s back” phenomenon: seemingly small relationship issues often accumulate to become big problems. And couples wait an average of 6 years of being unhappy before seeking help. This validates our focus on daily proactive relationship maintenance, rather than just crisis intervention. Another major learning is the critical role of personalization. The more nuanced our understanding of each couple, the more effective Maia becomes in preventing those ‘small straws’ from piling up in the first place.

What is an obstacle that you are grappling with as you continue to build this venture?

User acquisition is our next big obstacle, specifically convincing both partners in a relationship to actively engage with Maia. We’re iterating on our onboarding process and refining our features to make Maia indispensable to both individuals in the relationship.

What surprises have you encountered as an entrepreneur? Something out of left field?

Coming from finance, I was no stranger to gender imbalance, but the disparity is even more pronounced in the startup world — particularly in networking events, pitch meetings, and especially in the AI space where Maia operates.

How can the WAFFA community help you?

We’d love for WAFFA to help spread the word for couples to download Maia and give us feedback. Your insights would be incredibly valuable in helping us refine our product. Secondly, we’re seeking introductions to potential partners (relationship coaches, therapists, influencers in the space, relevant affiliate partners) and investors passionate about relationship wellness. Lastly, mentorship in areas like scaling and marketing would be hugely beneficial. Thank you!

What has been the most rewarding thing about starting your own business?

Definitely user feedback. Knowing that we’re making a real difference in people’s lives and relationships keeps us motivated every day.

Learn more about Maia here, and connect with Claire here.




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