The night before Michael Isaacs and Kyle DeTullio, co-founders of GetCharitable, were about to start their senior year at Auburn University, they dropped their classes and headed to Oklahoma City to participate in the Blueprint for Business (BP4B) business accelerator.
“We had always talked about how we wanted to start a company,” said Isaacs, “and how we thought socially conscious companies are really cool. Now we try to help others change the world every day.”
The two entrepreneurs had the idea of creating a smartphone application that would download a different sponsored wallpaper every day and then donating a portion of the revenues generated by that advertising to help feed children around the world.
“We got really excited,” Isaacs said. “Nobody was doing this; it was technically possible with Android phones.”
They heard about Blueprint for Business from a friend who is a technical journalist.
“We thought why not apply and see what happens,” Isaacs said. “We interviewed, were accepted, put our senior year on hold and moved to Oklahoma for the three-month BP4B program. And here we are a few months later, having released our app and seeing users use it on their phones.”
Advertisers like it because their message is in front of a user all day. Users like the graphically appealing wallpaper and the added benefit of feeding hungry kids.
“The wallpaper is a new medium,” Isaacs said. “Kyle and I tend to know what we like and don't like on our phones. We have a good idea of when a wallpaper design is intrusive or when it's cool. We work closely with our sponsors on design.”
Currently, GetCharitable is partnered with Oklahoma City-based Hunger Relief International, which serves Guatemala and Haiti. “We stay close so we can relay direct feedback to users about the real stories from the field,” Isaacs said.
“Our experience in Oklahoma has been great,” he said. “The entrepreneurial community here is really tight; everyone works together. There are so many good Oklahoma startups here that are really helpful to each other. We've received mentoring and advice from a ton of people who have been successful in business — and they haven't asked for one thing in return. Here in Oklahoma, you take entrepreneurs' dreams seriously.”
Couldn't have said it better myself.
Rex Smitherman is interim president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state's technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Smitherman at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.
DID YOU KNOW?
In 2011, Hunger Relief International provided 657,000 meals to vulnerable children in Haiti and 68,600 school meals in Guatemala.