Midtown mom dreams up app to help us all express gratitude

Growing Gratitude is a Midtown start-up company that wants to help children– and people of all ages – learn the value of gratitude. The company’s Facebook page is inspiring people to share messages of gratitude as the owner tries to raise money to make sharing “thank you videos” easier than ever.

On the Facebook site for Growing Gratitude, a young woman thanks her freshman-year high school teacher for teaching her how to put herself in someone else’s shoes. She thanks Mr. Graves for teaching her about empathy in 1991, a debt of gratitude she says she always meant to acknowledge.

Maybe it was just too difficult for her to sit down and write Mr. Graves a letter. But this young woman was inspired to flip on a cellphone movie recorder and record a 43-second message to that teacher she always meant to thank.

That’s exactly the type of thing Amy Marin Carlson hopes will happen more and more in the future. In fact, she’s raising money (more about that later) to create a new website and application that makes it easy for everyone to record a simple thank you. They will then be able to upload it and she’ll pretty it up and get it ready to send by cell phone or computer.

Amy Marin Carlson credits her sons for getting her thinking about how to teach kids the value of saying “thank you.” She realized that kids today don’t learn to write thank you notes, but what, she thought, if they could send a video thank you to grandparents or friends?

The former teacher turned full-time-mom-by-day-entrepreneur-by-night has founded a company called Growing Gratitude. Marin Carlson says the idea began to germinate when her youngest son was two. At his birthday party, she wondered how they would thank all the folks who had come to celebrate.

She was taught, of course, to write thank you notes. Her son, however, was too young for that and, she suspected, the golden age of written notes might be over.

But she knew from her years as a teacher that kids love technology. So she thought, what if her son could say thank you in a way that was fun, high-tech and visual? In other words, what if there were a thank you app?

Of course, anyone could record and send a short video, but Marin Carlson thought it would be better if it were packaged to look more professional.  That will happen on the Growing Gratitude website. After people upload their videos, they will be packaged into digital messages, ready to be shared on Facebook and other social media. She’ll also encourage people to store their thank yous, sent and received, on the Growing Gratitude website. (That way, grandparents can replay their video again and again, and kids can check back to see what they said a few years ago).

Marin Carlson says the entire project is Midtown-based. Nick Bushman and Michael DiStasi from PixelNation are designing the website and app. Clifton Alexander and Chase Wilson from REACTOR/designstudio are helping with graphic design. Traci Ketter and Jennifer Roe from Ketter|Roe  are providing administrative support.

For financing, Marin Carlson has turned to crowd-funding site Indiegogo. This grassroots money-raising tool allows anyone to donate between $25 and $5000 of the estimated $42,000 it will take to launch the app. Marin Carlson says once it is built, she hopes to offer the app for free, because “I don’t want there to be any barriers to people using it.”

She says part of the reason she’s able to chase the dream of creating her thank you app is the affordability of Kansas City, which allows her to stay at home with her two children while trying to get the business running. She says she knows she’s supposed to have long-range goals and an exit strategy, but she doesn’t.

“Right now, I just want to see where the adventure takes me,” she says.


Visit the Growing Gratitude Facebook page

Visit the Indiegogo Growing Gratitude campaign



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