Founding a Startup on Gratitude

When we started Gratzi, we really didn’t know much about the legalities of setting up a company. We took the generic advice of serial entrepreneurs and founded a Delaware C-corp. We split founder shares somewhat arbitrarily. We found an angel investor and signed Y-combinator’s SAFE docs, promising Gratzi shares at a discount when some sale-event causes a valuation. Sounded good… we shrugged and said, we’ll see if it works for us.

Those details out of the way, we focused on building our dreams. For a year we built, tested, dreamed, built, tested… rinse and repeat. But we put little action into preparing for what comes next. What will we do if our dreams for this little app come true? What happens when our startup grows? What kind of company are we?

Next year we come out of the workshop to show the world our little baby. So I’m preparing by putting this story together about who we are and why we’re the ones to do this… and why you might want to help.

Thanks for all the fish

Gratzi is short for gratitude, sort of. It comes from the Italian grazie meaning thank you. It was the name of our first app idea. Back in 2012 we set out to build an app for expressing gratitude. Months later we had a prototype built on a relatively novel architecture (unhosted) that put users in control of the gratitude data the app helped them create and share.

We wanted the world to say thanks more. And we wanted to say thanks to the world by giving people control of their data.

But something didn’t feel quite right. The goals were laudable and achievable. The path was clear. But somewhere along the way we lost that special joy in the product. It became depressingly clear that we just wouldn’t use it ourselves. It wasn’t fun enough.

Boom. FUN! That matters to us it turns out… Shocker, I know. ;p But it was odd to discover that something so innocuous could be so integral to our business. Fun is non-negotiable. We wanna laugh with our product.

If you know who made this, please let me know! I love it.

So we ‘pivoted’ or whatever the buzz word is today. We ditched the idea of gratitude as an app.

And we threw the unhosted baby out with the bath water. We still wanted to help solve the epic problems of data ownership, but even better solutions started to appear on the horizon: MaidSafe, Ethereum,Interplanetary File System, Sandstorm, among others.

The name still ruled, though. We couldn’t give that up. So after finding a mentor, investor, and partner in 2013 we were sitting around thinking about what we should call our fledgling startup… and the answer was there: Gratzi.

Gratzi is still a way to say thanks more. It’s just not an app. Gratitude was poking around in our minds for another reason: to be part of the foundation of our organization.

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