Most days we wake up and check our phones hoping that this time something interesting actually happened. Most days don’t and your phone doesn’t excite or motivate as much as you hope it will. But if you want at least one moment a day where you are excited to look at your phone, then you can rise with Shine and embrace the daily text that is inspiring you to be your best. So don’t go through your day without having at least something to think about–and make sure to reply with ‘m’!
AlleyWatch got in touch with the Shine cofounders Marah Lidey and Naomi Hirabayashi, and spoke about their millennial audience and how to communicate age-old as well as new age wisdom.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised a Seed round led by Flybridge Capital Partners, including Comcast Ventures with participation from BBG Ventures.
Tell us about your product or service.
Shine is disrupting the mental health space by helping millennials everywhere live with more intentionality and mindfulness, through a daily text message experience. Every morning, Shine sends users a text message around confidence, daily happiness, mental health and productivity to help them create their best day. The Shine tone, highly curated content and delivery mechanism makes it feel like a trusted friend in your phone who’s helping you make your work and personal life more focused, fun and intentional.
What inspired you to start the company?
We became close while working at DoSomething.org over four years ago. As two women on the senior management team, we quickly became friends, helping each other process work and life goals with vulnerability, trust and accessibility.
From our work at DoSomething.org, where we specialized in marketing and messaging to millennials, we had a deep passion and expertise on how to empower young people to be their best self. For years, we would talk about the gap in the market for accessible, tactical advice for young people around the personal and career dreams. And one day we just had an ‘aha moment’ – why not use the tool we understand best: text messaging.
How is it different?
Millennials are the fastest growing share of the workforce, yet they are more burnt out and overconnected than ever (with 76% of them citing work as their biggest stressor). They need a product that can keep up with their life and meet them where they are.
With Shine, you get just that: simple, high-quality, interactive, on-the-go life and career advice for millennials, with a focus on women, that’s all delivered through the most personal channel we have (via text message).
Do you try to avoid inspirational clichés that may be overused and ineffective?
The big secret is that there are plenty of ways to be motivational, inspirational and tactical in the business of self-help without being cheesy. Ambitious millennials are looking for content and technology that talks them like a friend; that’s our focus.
What was the funding process like?
Fundraising is time-consuming and certainly not easy. Not to mention that we did most of our fundraising alongside our very-separate full-time jobs. But the process of fundraising is also a chance to get really good at how you talk about your company, and to understand how other people think about the industry you’re trying to disrupt. It’s like founder bootcamp.
For Shine, we were incredibly lucky to find our people early on. We closed a seed round with the passionate, brilliant Victoria Song who led our round at Flybridge Capital Partners and who couldn’t be more aligned with our mission, the wonderful Daniel Gulati from Comcast Ventures who has believed in us since the beginning and the power duo Nisha Dua and Susan Lyne from BBG Ventures who have always believed in the voice and power of Shine to help people live their best lives.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Our main focus right now is growth, growth, growth.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Keep hustling (which might mean holding down a separate full-time job that pays the bills, while you spend nights and weekends on your business), don’t give up on your idea and really utilize your network for intros and advice. The worst thing someone can tell you is no.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
We have to give credit where credit is due – and our very first Shine “office” was actually within the walls of the LPQ (that’s Le Pain Quotidien) in Flatiron. We met there every morning at 7:30 am, and every night after work for months. The LPQ team, the food and the insane happy hour could not have treated us better and for that reason it’s always #1 on our list.