Wednesday, April 21, 2010 Now Increasing Karma

Whew! A lot has been happening with the team since we got off the bus.

Mark deserves this month's gold star, as he really grabbed the reins post-bus with keeping moving forward. He has a lot of passion around the idea of and since startups are all about action he decided to build a prototype quickly so people could start using it. Mark had the prototype up and running within days of getting back from Austin using Google App Engine.

The initial versions included features such as Twitter login to handle account creation, location-aware wishing using HTML5 and Google Maps, and the ability to vote for and comment on wishes. To make it easy for those who want to do something nice for someone, wishes can be viewed based on recentness, popularity, or even those wishes that are nearby. All content is posted directly to's Twitter account ( where people can link back to the site and join the discussion. Users that are logged in via Twitter can even post their wishes and comments to their own followers! also includes the ability to send anonymous emails to the wisher 'Craigslist' style by creating an anonymous email address for each wish. Giving each wish an email address allows individuals to contact the wisher privately without compromising their privacy.

Once a wish is fulfilled, the wisher is able to tell the community their story either by logging in via Twitter or sending an email to their wish from the same email account that created it. If a wish is fulfilled it moves the wish to an archive where people can read the stories of how users are touching peoples lives.

In keeping with our community focus, we allow anyone to flag anything posted on our site. If a post is flagged, it is removed - no questions asked. This will allow the community to police itself by removing offensive or unnecessary commentary.

Wow, that was a lot to accomplish in one months time!

As the team started actively using the site we've been refining it almost daily. Now we're ready for more traffic! We are testing out SEO keywords and Facebook Ads to see how we can start driving more traffic to the site, conducting user interviews, and telling everyone we know to "make our day" and post something on the site.

With a working prototype under our belts, the team has the chance to take a step back and put more structure around the project moving forward. The remaining team members have committed to meeting and collaborating regularly and have started breaking down the effort into manageable chunks. This includes conducting both market and user research, creating use cases and user flows and figuring out how sponsorships from local businesses might work.

There's still a lot to be done, but we are excited to drive towards the goal of enabling a thriving and engaged Be community where people want and can do good.

Get involved! Go tell us "What would make your day?" at and follow @beneighbor_ly on Twitter ( to watch the connections happen!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

What is

A lot of people have been asking "what exactly is" ... here's how I've been explaining it to people... is all about community. It uses hyper local geo-location to bring together people who might need something with people who can help. It's like FarmVille for Real Stuff. Imagine you are staying in a strange city and you forgot to pack hair gel. There are literally thousands of people staying at the same hotel as you but who do you ask for help? In today's world you might just tweet "I forgot hair gel, this sux" and your network might read the tweet and go on with their day. would use your social network to encourage someone to help you out, and make your day.

That can mean many things. It doesn't have to mean a fellow hotel guest knocks on your door with gel in their hands, it might be someone back home calling up the hotel and having them deliver it to your room, or even something as simple as someone sending you a map to a nearby convenience store...

It becomes about encouraging people to surprise and delight other people, and rewarding those people who reach outside their network to pay it forward (a'la badges in Four Square).

Revenue might be achieved by getting local business to sponsor offers on the site like 2 for one offers, or free cups of coffee, linking into Amazon Wish Lists, or partnering with things like airlines for gifting of mileage plus miles and such. However, it is less about revenue than making everyone have a better day.

Right now is just collecting wishes and letting people comment on and rate them. In the near future the app will let you see wishes near you so you can respond to people nearby.

Imagine I'm at the office and want to grab a cup of coffee but I'm short $2. If someone were around the corner and could find me... we can go grab a cup together. Instead of asking someone to raise my virtual barn, or give me a virtual sheep - which cheapens the act of giving - it can bring real communities together.

Just today I posted on's alpha site that I wish I could find my gym card, a friend who knows someone at the gym saw it and said they would try to get the gym to waive the $10 replacement fee... that's the kind of simple thing that will make a persons day. It sure made mine!

So I encourage you to go Make Someone's Day!

Friday, March 12, 2010 Video Launched at sxsw

Investment update: $60, 000. Whoa!

Just checked the teams page, and we hit SIXTY THOUSAND dollars in investment!!

It's just astounding. You guys not only carried us to the $50,000 mark, you blasted past it! The Chairman right now is @morgz789. Looks like the final tussle for chairmanship will be between @morgx789 and @danielabarbosa. Unless..... someone else starts investing! Ooooo, the excitement builds. Who will it be?

Stay tuned!

Practice Pitch and Great Coaching!

I'm beaming with pride right now. We gave our practice pitch to Simon Anquitil about an hour ago. He's one of the VCs that will be on tonight's panel. To be honest, I was a little nervous.

He provided such positive reception along with concrete, actionable advice for tightening up our presentation. He liked our idea a whole lot!

Giving and receiving is behavior that is as human as it gets. Why not facilitate this basic human need? And if there's a reasonable business model involved, we can't do anything but win.

I'm excited about tonight. I believe in this project and so do the friends and family who have invested $62K in virtual dollars in us.

Want to see us take this to market? Play the Startup Bus Game and invest your virtual dollars in Go to and click "invest".

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Meet the Rockstars

Amy Abascal

Avneet Singh

Lorrianne Nault

Mark Halvorson


Steve Repetti

The making of

I first heard about the concept of an app to facilitate paying forward when Lorri took the stage to pitch us her idea. She recounted an experience she had when she was on holiday with a friend, and they had gone for breakfast. When it came time to settle the bill, their waitress informed them that someone had already paid it for them.

Needless to say Lorri and her friend were very surprised by and appreciative of the gesture. They wanted to pay it forward, but also wanted to be creative about it - to do something which would be thoughtful and creative, instead of doing the same thing and paying for someone else's meal. Lorri found herself wishing for an app which she could've gone to, browsed by location, and found someone to pay it forward to.

After the pitch the team slowly formed through discussions about her pitch, and we've basically taken that idea and run with it. The idea itself has gone through many iterations over the past two days, and we can't wait to share it with everyone else. Which isn't very far away now! Launch is scheduled for right after arriving at Austin, which should be in an hour or two, depending on the traffic.

The Business Case for BeNeighborly

Virtual gifts and virtual goods have exploded into the social media scene, with daily reach exceeding 500MM users and generating serious revenue.

Users are sending and receiving everything from digital buttons and pixelated flowers to virtual drinks and electronic baked goods. Millions of transactions per day push billions of bits onto the web without a single dollar benefiting the real-goods marketplaces.

This fundamental desire to share – to give and to receive -- has become twisted in this internet era. The intention of giving is real, but it has somehow been cheapened by the virtual aspect of it.

BeNeighborly untwists this model, restores the pureness to millions, and reintroduces the real-goods economy into the equation.

Help us get to $50,000 in virtual investments! is brought to you by Team1 on The Startup Bus, the bus which has brought together 25 strangers from all over the world to conceive, build and launch a startup in the time it takes to drive from San Francisco to Austin, Texas.

We are about 6 hours away from Austin, and we need your support!! There is an investment game on The Startup Bus where you can invest virtual bus dollars into your team. Over the past day, teams 1 and 2 have been running neck and neck, constantly swapping between first and second place.

Help us beat em! Please go to the Teams list and give your virtual dollars! And remember, once you log in, your account earns a bus dollar a minute, so remember to check back in and allocate the accumulating funds too! The best bit - the person who invests the most in our team becomes our Chairman!

Our aim is to get to $50,000. With your investments and Tweets, we can do it!