We worked with Crowdflower and JESS3 to produce the 2010 Gratitude Index, which was highlighted on media sites across the web, including CNNMoney.com, CBSNews.com, Techcocktail.com, Mashable.com, HuffingtonPost.com and others.
Since Thankfulfor is a free site without ads, we were very thankful for all of our gracious community members who helped support the site via their contributions.
Outside of Shiny Heart Ventures, co-founder Frank Gruber successfully grew his media company Tech Cocktail, and brought co-founder Jen Consalvo onboard. So now the team has two ventures. Tech Cocktail produced over 20 events around the country in 2010 including the Startup Mixology conference in Chicago, and grew the online news site tremendously - a huge accomplishment. At the same time, Jen launched her photography ebook, Love Your Photos: A Simple Guide To Photographic Happiness. Another great personal achievement.
As for 2011, we will continue to grow the Thankfulfor community, introducing new features to our thousands of members that will enrich and grow the community. Another important project will be Digital Capital Week 2011 – this year produced by Tech Cocktail and iStrategy Labs.
Via our many ventures, we look to build communities, increase joy in people’s lives and contribute to society while also building responsible and successful businesses. We hope you’ll join us. What are your plans for 2011? Tell us in the comments below.
It just doesn’t seem possible that we are already breaking out the fireworks… but yes, it’s summer. And with that I’d like to share a few updates with everyone.
First, our inaugural Digital Capital Week went amazingly well. We had well over 5,000 people register and pass through various DCWEEK events throughout the ten day festival – here’s a recap of the first few days. It was a huge endeavor with our co-producers iStrategy Labs, but we did it – and how amazing was it to watch other people run with interesting events throughout the week! We’re going through all the feedback now and will soon begin planning for next year. Keep checking the site for updates too – you never know when something interesting might happen.
Second, Shiny Maine Lobster is now taking orders! Summer isn’t summer until you’ve had your first fresh lobster of the season. Capt’n Dave and Frannie have been working on their boat, the Spitfire, all spring, and now they are hauling traps with YOUR lobsters in them. There are a number of tasty packages on the site, but if you are interested in a custom order or even “buying” a lobster trap for the season, let us know. We’re all about creating a great experience for you. Lobsters are delivered fresh overnight with cooking instructions and other goodies.
Third, we’ve been steadily building the Thankfulfor community and now have tens of thousands of Thankfulfor posts that could keep anyone inspired for a lifetime. We love reading the public “stream of thanks” so much that for Mother’s Day & Father’s Day, we created special ebooks that you can download and view. These are the first of many and we are looking for interesting partners so please reach out if you are interested in chatting. We also have some creative new features in the works coming soon!
We hope you are enjoying the summer months and wish everyone a festive, joyful and safe July 4th!
DCWEEK came to an official start this past weekend when we hosted an opening party Friday night at the Longview Gallery & Blagden Alley in Washington, DC. The party featured tons of entertainment – everything from bands and individual musicians, to performance artists, film projections, dancers and an interactive gratitude graffiti wall presented by Shiny Heart Ventures, asking party-goers what they were thankful for about DC. It was a hit – even though in the end, it turned into a flat-out graffiti wall. The opening celebration went on until the wee hours with a great crowd.
On Saturday morning was a highlight of the weekend – Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh gave a talk about his new book, Delivering Happiness, followed by a book signing and lunch. On a beautiful Saturday afternoon the crowd at our GWU venue was completely engaged asking question after question. Our own Frank Gruber did a great job moderating the discussion with Tony and the audience – we’ll post video from the session here soon.
The session was followed up by City Camp DC moderated by Peter Corbett, from our co-producing company, iStrategy Labs. The crowd spent the afternoon discussing issues most important to them in DC, and then in true unconference style, formed into groups using the time to brainstorm 3 big ideas, assigning team members to follow up on each. Some groups used Sunday afternoon to do some fieldwork around the city -others are following up with their teams with specific action items.
Most exciting to me is getting to meet SO many people everyday of the festival. It’s just amazing and inspiring. Want to follow along with the festival? We have an incredible volunteer blogger corp making updates all festival-long to our main site: http://digitalcapitalweek.org and via Twitter @dcweek. We’re also tweeting updates from @shinyheart so there are lots of ways to see what’s happening throughout the festival.
We just wanted to take a moment to share a slice of our Shiny Heart Ventures life as we took on the Easter egg coloring experience. We pulled out the PAAS coloring set and colored some eggs along with a few fingers too. We hope your holiday weekend is filled with love, laughter, happiness – and a few yellow Peeps too. We invite you to share your gratitude for the season with our gratitude community over at thankfulfor.com.
Not only are we growing our businesses, but we try to be very involved in our local community in the DC-area. To that end, we’ve partnered with iStrategy Labs to produce Digital Capital Week (@DCWEEK) – a 10 day festival in Washington DC focused on technology, innovation and all things digital in our nation’s capital. We’re so excited! Read the official announcement here.
Modeled after Internet Week NY, Social Media Week, FotoWeek DC, Fringe Festival, etc… DCWEEK will consist of a series of distributed events produced and hosted by individuals, organizations and community groups. We’ve got all kinds of DC-peeps behind us so this is going to be city-wide and amazing.
DCWEEK is a time to do the following:
★ to learn from others through sessions, keynotes, workshops and panels
★ to meet new friends, clients, partners, investors and collaborators
★ to focus on the issues in DC that can be addressed in new ways
★ to come together to support innovative businesses, people and ideas
★ to showcase the DC area as an important region for technology, innovation and creativity
★ to work on projects that benefit the city and the world
★ to experiment with what’s possible
★ to have fun at some great parties
>>So, mark your calendar for June 11 – 20, 2010 and…
While we’ve continued to build out Thankfulfor and work on some other ideas, a new opportunity presented itself and we jumped on it. As you may know, Jen (@noreaster) is from Maine, where her family has a lobster business. And if you’ve seen any news at all around the plight of the Maine Lobstermen, you may also know that they are having a tough time. Despite continued popularity of the shellfish, the wholesale prices have hit rock-bottom in recent years. That along with higher fuel and bait costs and the state’s tight self-regulation (for conservation purposes) policies, many lostermen are getting squeezed to the point of no return. So, after years of trying to get Jen’s family business online, Captain Dave (her dad) finally acquiesced. Today we’re happy to announce our partnership with Captain Dave & Lobstahlady Frannie with the new site Shiny Maine Lobster.
Now, there are many other sites where people can order lobster online. But Shiny Maine Lobster is not just about ordering a nice dinner. It’s about getting to know who is doing the work, how they do it, and knowing where your money is going. When you go to the grocery store, or eat out at a restaurant, it’s very rare you’ll know exactly where your food came from and the many stops it made along the way. Shiny Maine Lobster is a place to not only get to know the family behind the business, but to invest in their sustainable business and pretty soon, contribute back as part of a community who loves this New England tradition.
We’re excited about growing this business to include more local lobsterman and artists. Interested in participating or have ideas for us? We’d love to hear from you.
In early November, Jen and I took a long train ride adventure from Washington, D.C. to sunny Savannah, Georgia to speak about our entrepreneurship endeavors at the first annual Geekend 2009 event. The event was pulled together by the lovely team of Jake & Miriam Hodesh of New Moon of Savannah. With one of our old AOL pals also speaking and helping to pull the event together, we were extremely excited to be a part of the festivities.
We made an absolute geekend of it, enjoying our trip down, meeting lots of folks and speaking on Saturday in a session titled “I’m My Own Boss. Now What?” In the session, both Jen and I shared our different perspectives on starting your own business. I shared some insight on how to balance a full-time job at AOL while getting my dreams started on the side, pulling from my experiences with TECH cocktail, Somewhat Frank and Shiny Heart Ventures. Jen shared her experience of leaving a full-time job to develop a focused, day-to-day routine as a full-time entrepreneur. We shared stories and anecdotes of what we’ve learned so far in our various ventures, which includes Thankfulfor.com. Here’s an edited video clip from Geekend 2009, highlighting some of our talk – it’s about 10 minutes taken from an hour long session.
It’s been a very eventful 2009! We launched our first product, Thankfulfor.com and it’s growing at a steady pace. We’ve got a fun new product coming soon and are looking to do much more in 2010. Thank you all for being so supportive and joining us on our exciting and challenging journey.
Happy holidays to you and your loved ones from Shiny Heart Ventures!
Last week we were at TWTRCON in DC for Frank to take part in a panel called The New Rules for the Real-Time Business. We went a bit early and were able to see Scott Harrison on stage talking about Charity:Water. It was a fascinating preso for me because after it was over, I thought more about it and what a major shift has been happening in the “social good” (or charities) space and how much a part of my mind-share it’s had lately. When I think back through the years of my parent’s and my own experiences with charitable groups, I recall the names of just a few major organizations, maybe some fundraising events like a concert or sales drive and then I think about numbers and charts – pretty uninspiring stuff. When I was a kid I remember just one organization that personalized the experience - my parents “adopted” a little boy from Ethiopia (as I’m sure many families did) and fed him for less than $1 a day or something like that. We had his picture on our family bulletin board. But I grew up hearing one message that stuck – “we’d give more money but who knows where it’s really going.”
But now I have some new experiences to draw upon. I’ve been to two Twestivals – my first donation went to Charity:Water. My second went to a local charity called Miriam’s Kitchen. I’ve donated to Kiva a few times and watched our friend Sloane blog and tweet about her work in the field as a Kiva Fellow. I’ve seen several of the new generation of organizers speak about their projects and show the results in real-time. Recently, Shiny Heart Ventures even signed up to work with Epic Change on their Tweetsgiving campaign to help school children in Tanzania. We were able to watch the founders interacting real-time with the kids in Tanzania last week via videos posted on Tumblr and Tweets they sent out. The kids even started a dialog with Frank. And now I’ve spoken with other groups whom we may work with in the coming months or years. My point is, in this new world of giving, it’s no longer faceless. It’s no longer another world. It’s no longer throwing money over a wall and hoping someone honest is there to catch and put it to good use.
When it comes to the leaders of these organizations, we can see them at work and follow them online. We’re able to connect and build trust. When it comes to the aid, we can track it online. And the recipients – we can see them and feel a connection. And it’s important because this stuff makes us feel good – and what have we learned? We remember how people make us feel. Charity:Water’s updates from the field make me feel good about my donation and I’m more likely to open my wallet for them in the future. The “TwitterKids” of Tanzania are all over our Thankfulfor blog and how can you say no to those adorable faces? The new social good leaders have realized that they can create their own media, and affect people by bringing it closer and making it real. And not to be outdone by the small organizations, even the Gates Foundation gets it – and have created their own channels to move the needle. Like the others, they’re using the power of gorgeous photographs, video and music – and not only brought it online, but recently brought it to an audience in DC, where people could have a larger-than-life experience to move them emotionally. We were moved by attending and seeing Bill and Melinda Gates deliver the message in person to a filled theater.
I used to give funds to the Red Cross and United Way (pretty much only after a major disaster struck) just because they were large trusted institutions and it was easy. I’m not saying we shouldn’t give to these groups – they’re still great organizations. I’m saying it feels like we have choices now that are more visible and close at hand (via online tools) than ever before. Groups like Causes and Network for Good have been instrumental in bringing many projects and audiences together, and now there are even events like the Nonprofit 2.0 Conference to help more non-profits along. We’re excited about this shift, as a company that wants to do good things & work with causes, and as individuals who want to see major change happen in the world.