As the LittleHoot’s elves [Mama Hoot, Lacey Ellis and me, Intern Hoot] prepare the workshop and gear up to put together the inaugural round of books you guys have ordered, we have been surprised and delighted to see [in many cases for the first time], all of the wonderful memories that have been captured by y’all. What better way to wrap up the year than to create a book of those special and magical moments with your families [and friends!] that might otherwise be forgotten over time?
That being said, the other day we elves were stopped in our tracks by the memory tiles created by Lidia Donajczyk-Lipinska of her family—“Mama”, “Tata”, and baby Bruno, aka the Lipinski Family. Here is the first one we saw.
Amazing, yes?!? Not only is the photo beautiful, but the approach that Mama and Tata have taken to create their book is a unique and innovative way to welcome Sir Bruno into the world, and particularly into his parent’s hearts. We elves were wowed as we saw the rest of the selections made for their book which consisted of hopes and wishes not only from the parents, but from family and friends as well. Of course baby Bruno, born in June of this year, doesn’t have much to say at this point, so the whole idea of quotes and conversations for the Lipinski’s has morphed into a series of beautiful messages and photos for him to savor when the time comes.
As you can see from the different [from English] language used in some of the tiles [which Mama and Intern took an embarrassingly long time to figure out was Polish], we knew that this was one special family with one special story. Intrigued, we reached out to them to see if they might share a bit of their journey. Mama Lidia could not have been more gracious when contacted by us.
Imagine this—Far away, in the land called Poland, there lived across the street from each other, two teenagers, Lidia and Bartosz. Not only were they neighbors, they were also friends. Their friendship grew, and before too much time had passed, they became engaged. They married, becoming husband and wife—and more recently, gave birth, becoming parents, becoming a family. Introducing Mom Lidia, Dad Bartosz and Beautiful Baby Boy Bruno. A real life fairy-tale you might say.
As if Poland were not an exotic enough location in which to settle down, this enthusiastic, independent and adventuresome couple has kept on the move—5 years in Warsaw, 3 years in London, a year in New York and now a year [so far] in Chicago. Oh, and when I say “adventuresome”, they take the meaning of the word to a whole new level—traveling the world is part of their “normal” routine. Name a country—they have been there. Cambodia, Myanmar, Machu Picchu, Peru [while six months pregnant!], and Bogota,Columbia to name a few. I see a travel book in their future. [smiley face] I feel certain that Baby Bruno will be a world traveler before he can talk.
These kinds of stories are truly what brings life, light and purpose to LittleHoots—we have loved getting a little glimpse into the life of the Lipinski family. With their book, they truly will have an incredible legacy of memories that will be a part of theirs, Bruno’s [and any other future “Brunos”] history as time goes by and they live out their “Happily-Ever-After”.
Rosemary. Jarot. Hana, Lucas, Jonah, Lila and Ezra. Meet the Gustin family. Every so often, we at LittleHoots begin seeing family threads of not only funny, wise and witty things that specific kiddos say, but their parents as well. These interactions between parents and their little ones can be lol funny, taking the app to a whole new level. Right out of the gate, we pegged the Gustin clan as a perfect example of such a family, using the LittleHoots app to weave their families’ story—one that they would have to look back on and “hoot” about for years to come.
Little Lila Gustin was one unique little girl who first caught our attention—her mom Rosemary was posting a multitude of amazingly memorable “hoots” while in conversation with her daughter.We quickly realized that it was not only Lila’s hoots that were cracking us up, but those of mama Rosemary’s other kiddos as well—not to mention the daddio, Jarot. This is one fun and funny family who has truly found a unique and thoughtful [read FUNNY] way to tell their story. Five children might seem like a lot, but I’m still hoping they will adopt me.
I would love to share a couple of my personal faves, as immortalized by the Gustins while using the LittleHoots app.
We are so excited to inform you about an awesome new resource for moms called MomCo. It is a free app that helps moms locate other moms that live close to them with similar aged children. Other features include Playdates, a calendar of upcoming family friendly events, a service section where you can find all the local businesses that cater to you and your kiddos, a money saving deals section, and a GIVEAWAY section. They are currently giving away a $500 gift card to Target in the Giveaway section in the app located on the bottom of the home screen. Download now to enter!
MomCo has quickly caught the attention of moms and the media. MomCo was the #1 trending app in the App Store after being featured on The Today Show and were named one of The Must-Have Apps for Moms by numerous parenting websites. MomCo is truly a one stop shop that has something for every mom to enjoy on the app. See what all the buzz is about and become a MomCo Mom today!
Two might not seem like a number of significance to you guys, but when you consider that two team members from LittleHoots have made this year’s Techweek 100 list, the number two takes on epic proportions.
Lacey Ellis, Founder and CEO, and Dan Stifter, Advisor/Consultant have both been recognized as leaders in the emerging “tech hub” of Kansas City, one of the five American cities chosen for this week long series of events celebrating technology and innovation while showcasing the local community of entrepreneurs, visionaries and innovators.
This is a big deal.
The fact that Kansas City is being seen as the “Silicon Valley” of the midwest, and that two members of the “little startup that could”, (A.K.A. LittleHoots) is homegrown in said “Valley” speaks volumes for the future of our memory-keeping platform as well as our city.
The Techweek mission is about “building a better world through tech entrepreneurship. We bring together fledgling startups, emerging growth companies, and the titans of technology”. Whoa. Pretty lofty ideal, but one that is being well-played by Lacey and Dan.
The methodology for choosing the Techweek 100 is the same in each of the five host cities and is consistent each year. There are five qualities that are sought in each of the candidates being considered for the list: originality, prominence, growth, gumption and pertinence. Under the gumption label, read —“courage and drive led them to navigate their company through the startup world and continue to push to achieve a major goal”—that, my friends, is Lacey Ellis. The world of startups is hard…really hard.
Lacey, a former Art Director at a local Ad agency, has worked her b*** off to bring her dream of creating a Memory Keeping Platform to fruition…and she’s just getting started…you know, one step forward, five steps back; three baby-steps forward, half-a-giant-leap back…you get my drift. Passion, determination, glass half full, sacrifices left and right—Yep. Lacey.
Under the pertinence label, read— “their leadership has a public impact in the growth of their technological ecosystem”—meet Dan Stifter. Dan, a top-notch mentor/partner in the BetaBlox Business Incubator and Accelerator, has become an advisor for LittleHoots—simply because he believes—in us, in the mission of the LittleHoots ecosystem—that’s huge.
Dan, a former Senior Executive for both Coca-Cola North America and Hallmark Cards, Inc. is now becoming a sought after thought leader where his “thoughts” are needed most—like LittleHoots. Dan has applied his business acumen and emotional intelligence to our small but mighty team by helping us navigate the often muddy waters of not only how to sell an idea, but also how to make it work “better”. Dan the man.
So there you have it—In the midst of the excitement generated by the start of Techweek KC next week, the LittleHoots “power of two” will shine. Give a hoot!
Okay—by now you know that Littlehoots is a mobile app that allows you to capture memorable quotes that tumble out of the mouths of your kiddos, your grand-kiddos, your friend’s kiddos—words that you can save, along with photos, encased in a nicely designed Memory Tile. Created on the spot by you—yes, YOU—it’s that simple. They say it—you crack-up, tear-up, scrunch your eyes in disbelief—and, with a couple of clicks on your mobile device, you send it on its merry way to the archives of your camera roll, your social media of choice—and yes, your heart—for however long you want to keep it there. You can bet that twenty years down the road, those kiddos are going to look at these, roll their eyes, and say “no! C’mon—I didn’t say THAT…did I?”
Littlehootswhy!!! [pay attention! :)]
Daddy Nate and Andi
So. This is what you know [hopefully!] about Littlehoots—the “what” and the “how”. There is a part of our brains that can understand, process and articulate a fair number of facts and bits of information about any number of things—but there is another part that asks the question, “why?”, in the sense of “why is this so appealing, why does this matter to me?”. This makes things a little trickier, a little more difficult to articulate. I think it might have to do with the fact that, for the most part, as adults we have an intuitive emotional response to these “hoots” that is hard to define. We are connected to our families and friends as emotional beings which brings this natural response to the innocence with which “our” kids express themselves. We can’t help but be drawn in with delight. This is our “why”.
Littlehoot meets littler-hoot!
You might ask “why” this would even matter to me, a single guy with no kids, no nieces or nephews, and obviously, no grand-kiddos. Well, let me tell you. As I mentioned above, the “friends” category is huge for me—they are my “family”. And yes, my “family’s” little ones say some pretty amazing stuff. One of my own very personal “why”s is all about the example of one new friend, Lacey Thomas Ellis—CEO and Founder of Littlehoots. This smart-as-a-whip wife [of Nate] and mom of two—Jett, coming up on five years and Andi, all of, as of today, ten DAYS old [!]—is the person, the living, breathing articulation of “why” Littlehoots. Jett Ellis, bless his little heart-:), has come out with some real winners of “hootable” quotes, the most memorable one being “look, Mommy! The moon is on!” which was the beginning of Lacey’s pursuit of her dream. She knew in her heart that this was only one of many memorable quotes that would come out of this little guy’s mouth, as well as the mouths of countless other kiddos. That’s the “why” key—she was not just looking to preserve her own family’s story, but the stories of ALL families. It is truly her mission, it is that important to her—and now, to me as well.
That being said, as a company, Littlehoots is 100% committed to helping everyone, every family-[yes, we—everyone- are all part of a larger family]-capture that special memory and tangibly keep it for years ahead to savor. All those countless “little” memories, that, when put together, form a story—a story of a life. Again,it is that important. Thus, Littlehoots, once a dream, is now a reality for Lacey Thomas Ellis—she is living her “why”. This is a calling, a blessing, and I feel like the luckiest guy in the world to be able to be a part of this “why”, helping her and her small but mighty team of amazing co-founders [yes YOU Kim, Wade and Stephanie, Jeff and August] realize this dream and move it ahead—and yes—you can be a part of that dream.
Launching a mobile application is a little surreal – even for those of us who work in a tech field and are accustomed to launching apps or other digital commodities on a daily basis. When you’re creating and launching your own product, the stakes are a little higher. You want everything to be perfect. You’d rather not have to iterate seven times before users and potential customers use it. However, from the feedback we’ve received, users do seem to be a little more understanding when you use the word “beta” or “version 1.0” to describe the state of the application. With that said, we’d like to give you an update on the first version of the LIttleHoots mobile app and also tell you about all the exciting things that have been happening to date. The app has been live in iTunes for a little over 2 weeks. To date, we have over 350 active users who’ve created over 900 memory tiles and the feedback has been really positive. Keep it coming! The two major bugs that were present in the first version have been fixed in the version currently available for download. We anticipate being able to launch our Marketing campaign on or around June 20th.
To help us get the word out, we hosted a launch party on Saturday May 10th at OfficePort in Kansas City, MO, where we office and we invited some of our friends and families. These “friendlies” are also our first users. The launch party was a way for us to thank all the people who have been so supportive of our journey and for us to keep getting the word out about our app.
What can you do to help? Download our app! Tell us what you like, what you’d like to see changed. We want to hear from you! Tell your friends. Do you know someone who would enjoy our app? Share it with them!
Thanks for your continued support! Until next time!
The LittleHoots Team