How do you show gratitude for the favorite people in your life? A Hallmark card is generic, but it can be challenging to come up with something more original. Saying "I love you" is great, but how often do we really share the reasons why someone matters so much to us?
Showing our emotions openly can be scary and takes a bit of thoughtfulness. We often don't know how people will respond, so we protect ourselves by keeping those feelings buried inside. It also takes time to articulate why you care about someone, and that may keep you from speaking up, as well.
Thinking along these lines is what inspired young entrepreneur Andrew Horn to come up with a new business concept. His online video collection engine Tribute makes it easy for you and your friends, family and/or colleagues to submit short videos telling the people who matter to you why you appreciate them. Tribute then helps you compile and edit the clips into a montage or tribute to that individual.
"I wanted to make it easy for people to share their love, appreciation and gratitude with the people they care about," Andrew said. "I think that by doing that one simple thing, we can help millions of people increase their health and happiness." He hopes to fundamentally shift the way we communicate with each other, making it normal and acceptable to share our love for one another more frequently.
Andrew's true inspiration was a touching 27th birthday gift he received from his girlfriend Miki Agrawal. She sent an email out to 25 of Andrew's closest friends and family members, asking them to send in a video clip saying why they loved him or how he had impacted their life. She then took all the clips and compiled them into a single montage.
The result was a 20-minute video that Miki shared with Andrew at the surprise birthday party she threw for him. By the time the third person in the video was speaking (which was a brother with whom Andrew had never been close), he was so overwhelmed with emotion that he started to cry. "It was an incredible feeling that I'll never forget," he said, and "the best gift I'd ever received."
Fortunately, Andrew Horn already had the expertise needed to start Tribute. He had realized soon after graduating from college that nothing really fulfilled him as much as helping others -- which led him down the path of social entrepreneurship.
In 2009, he started an organization called Dreams For Kids DC, which helps young people with disabilities play sports. In just three years, they were able to establish the outfit as one of the premiere adaptive athletic providers in Washington, D.C. The organization still does events with all the pro teams in the area to this day, although Andrew stepped down as CEO in 2011.
Next, Andrew created another non-profit venture called AbilityList, which is a modernized "Craigslist for People with Disabilities." Andrew also started speaking professionally and started a consultancy to "help cool companies get started and make people care about what they do."
Raising capital was the biggest hurdle Tribute faced early on. The company completed a successful Kickstarter campaign in December 2014. "That forced us to really hammer down our vision for the business and execution path to do something special," Andrew said. "There was a lot that I didn't know and I made a point to surround myself with as many smart fundraisers and entrepreneurs as possible, offering each of them free Tribute in return for their donated time."
Next, they made a conscious decision to invest heavily in design, creating a workflow that makes the process as seamless and natural as possible.
These days, Andrew says he wakes up with a profound sense of gratitude for getting to share the Tribute experience with the world. "I know what it feels like to receive one, and so it is incredibly rewarding to see other people experiencing similar joy. The majority of people who send us feedback tell us that their Tribute is one of the best gifts they've ever received."
For example, at Thanksgiving this past year, Andrew received an email from a woman named Lauren who said that her friend Felipe had just come out of a major operation and could use some moral support from his loved ones. Andrew soon discovered that Felipe is a father and husband who had recently been diagnosed with cancer in his leg. Doctors had told him that he could fight the cancer with chemo, but that if the disease spread, it could be deadly. Felipe opted for the cautious route: amputation of his leg.
Tribute helped Lauren collect videos from 20 of Felipe's closest family and friends. She surprised him with the video a few days after his operation. "His response was sheer joy and appreciation. He literally could not believe it. He was so incredibly grateful and uplifted," Andrew said.
When I asked Andrew if he had any words of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs, he said, "The one piece of advice that finally kicked my ass into gear as an entrepreneur was from a talented entrepreneur and professor named Stever Robbins. He said, 'You can wake up tomorrow or ten years from now. The aspiration and burning desire inside of you to do and create what you want will never go away. It's up to you whether you do that at 21, 31 or maybe never.'"
Andrew added, "It will never get easier to take the first step towards starting your own business. But life is short and the only things that matter are those we give meaning to ourselves. If there is something you want to do, do it now."
As a final note, this week is Teacher Appreciation Week. As we all know, and as the National PTA reminds us, "Teachers play a key role in student success. Sometimes a simple 'thanks' is all a teacher needs to feel valued." In order to help you show your thanks, Tribute is donating 1000 free videos to students, parents and public school administrators who want to celebrate our nation's educators in a special way. Show your gratitude today! #ThankaTeacher
Photo credit: Andrew Horn