A Simple Thank You Seeks to Spread Happiness

Hacking the Holidays Internet

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A Simple Thank You is a startup project aimed at getting people to publicly express their gratitude.

Not long ago, Tom McGrath was struck by how happy he was with his life. Feeling healthy and successful, he considered himself lucky to be surrounded by people who have contributed to that happiness. Now, as the CEO of a new startup, McGrath hopes to encourage others to share credit for their own successes.

“We as a society tend to focus too much on insignificant little things that weigh us down and make us unhappy,” says McGrath. “What we need to do instead is focus on the big picture and take the time to appreciate all the amazing people and things we have in our lives. This is the key to happiness.”

A recent Startup Weekend event in Indiana provided McGrath an opportunity to move that philosophy from sketches in a notebook into a new company. Assembled in 54 hours by a team of four, A Simple Thank You offers a Pinterest-esque queue of public thanks posted by people who feel similarly grateful to be surrounded by helpful friends, family and colleagues.

The Startup Weekend format has changed since Andrew Hyde debuted the concept in Boulder, Colorado in 2007. Instead of several dozen attendees working together to create a single company, participants pitch their ideas at the beginning and break off into smaller groups for the next 54 hours. McGrath’s idea not only attracted two designers (Angelica Rosenzweig and Deepak Bhagchandani) and a developer (David Martin), but it was used by other teams during the intense weekend to thank their own teammates for their hard work.

“The mission of A Simple Thank You is something that resonates with everyone,” says McGrath, “and the support we’ve received from our local community has been nothing short of miraculous.”

Local businesses chipped in food and services to help create some awareness, and the project finished second with their final pitch, earning some free office space at The Solution Lab, a collaborative workspace in town.

David Martin, who serves as CTO (Chief Thanks Officer) and lead developer, was quick to point out that the technology behind A Simple Thank You is still the outcome of a weekend of labor. The website is largely a proof-of-concept that requires manual editing on Martin’s part to get the content online. Dan Trietsch, the former Director of Engineering at Angie’s List, will be joining the team, with some additional assistance from an angel investor. Future releases of the website are expected to include reminders, multiple ways of saying thank-you, VOIP web integration with Twilio, and the means to send physical cards, flowers, or charitable donations in the name of the recipient of your goodwill.

While McGrath and his team will have to first overcome the same struggle for financial stability that all startups face, part of the vision for A Simple Thank You is providing a way to reflect on what sparks gratitude from the masses over time. By providing a simple way to express thanks, McGrath hopes to lower the barriers separating just thinking about someone from letting them know you are doing so. If enough people say thanks, happiness will follow.

Who has contributed to your happiness today?

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