Where are you guys from? Do you remember meeting each other? When I met her I felt like I was meeting a celebrity. I just immediately felt comfortable. It just takes time to acclimate to anything new. What I loved about Naomi is that she made me feel like I was doing it right. She made me feel accepted and supersupported. In your early career, you are always looking for someone to give you validation and make you feel comfortable.
Having another woman, and a woman of color, who was in an amazing leadership position was great. Naomi was also the person you wanted in every meeting; she was incredibly thoughtful and strategic, but also very energetic and solution-oriented. Where did the idea for Shine come from? We actually launched Shine while we were working together at DoSomething. We had teamed up together on a project, and spent a lot of late nights together at work.
It was on one of those late night when we were just talking, just [emotionally] leaning on each other and talking through things that were going on in our lives. Everything we were seeing in the space felt very bougie, very much like something that you do when you have time for it, versus how we actually experience our well-being, which is every single day all the time. We took a step back and were like, what if we just sent a text? We had scaled texting from 0 to 5 million and realized the power of it — texts have a 98 percent open rate — and we asked ourselves, what if we did texts, but for well-being?
We did a prototype for 50 people and sent it out. We also did weekly surveys for a month. It was the response to those surveys that very quickly made us realize that this was more than just a side project or a cool idea.
It was actually something that was needed and that we needed to go forward with. What was the first text Shine ever sent? I have no idea if it would resonate with other people, but let me just try it. If we would have known that Shine would reach a million users and have all this success, then of course we would have started it even sooner. Brazil, Mexico, Canada, five countries in Africa. We have a really clear understanding of what it looks like to globally launch and scale a really engaging experience that feels like a friend in your pocket.
That felt like a really big differentiator. This is fundamentally changing my mood, I feel better on a daily basis. Obviously that validation felt good, but it also made clear that there was so much more here. And did you raise money right then? We raised two rounds. We had our full-time job, and we would take meetings at lunch.
We were very transparent with DoSomething, and they were very supportive. We were so motivated by the response we were getting from the community to make this happen. In , when we started, there was not a lot of content about wellness, just in general. View photos More Why should people download the app? What can they expect from the app every day? It just makes it easier for you to take time for yourself in a way that works for your day. And that comes to life in the app in two ways. But all done in a way that really talks to you like a friend.
We all need that now more than ever. What comes next for Shine? Shine text has always been an entry point into that and a really exciting differentiator. This friend-in-your-pocket concept is this first product, and now the app, the second product, together are incredibly strong.