Highlights from this episode…
JD began his entrepreneurial journey at age 7, when he helped his dad run Beebe Brothers Business Cards.
As a teenager at Ridgefield HighSchool, JD was a self-described “rambunctious scamp.” He was on the swim team, soccer team, rowing team, and track and field. Inspired by Method Man, he spent a year with a toothbrush in his mouth and also had hair past his shoulders. So, he had a lot going on.
JD learned a lot from spending many sleep-deprived hours in great pain on a boat with 7 guys during his time on the Boston University crew team. He experienced the benefits of grit, determination, giving it your all, and being in lockstep with your teammates.
JD liked being creative. He liked the arts. He liked coming up with silly ideas with his friends like Keith Maneri (who later became his ThankView co-founder). So, he studied advertising at BU.
JD has created and built some amazing websites and companies. Here are a few:
- GrabSomeGoodby.com – A site created and dedicated to helping his former Goodby, Silverstein & Partners coworkers find jobs after agency layoffs.
- HangoverBeard.com – A site that sold beards so that people could dress up like Zach Galafianakis for Halloween.
- Hammogram.com – A site that sent love notes from the desk of John Hamm/Don Draper.
- New Antisocial – A surprisingly social creative agency.
- Beebe’s Buttcamp – A serious workout that didn’t take itself too seriously.
JD created ThankView as a whimsical side project so that he and his friends wouldn’t have to sit and write hundreds of thank you notes after their weddings. Soon, it caught on at fitness studios as a way to thank and recruit new classpass students. One day, he made a donation to Boston University and received a generic “thank you” email. He called BU and asked to talk to the “donation office” to learn more about how they acknowledged donors. BU soon became one of ThankView’s first higher ed customers.
Brent and JD have each had thousands of conversations with advancement folks at all levels. But JD reminds us that it’s so important to bring a genuine interest and curiosity to every conversation, because every annual fund is distinct, every leadership team has different goals, every donor relations team has new ideas. If we listen closely and stay connected to our ThankView and EverTrue customers, here’s where JD sees things in 3-5 years:
- The volume of personalized content will increase dramatically;
- More people on campus will be involved with the video creation process (student callers will become student recorders);
- We’ll be able to infer the kind of content people like based on Facebook engagement and send them personalized videos from related people/places on campus;
- We’ll deliver a scalable, Cameo-like experience to thousands more alumni.
JD says that he has created successful businesses not by asking what the world needs, but rather by following what he thinks would be fun. And maybe that is what the world needs!