As the founder and early-stage employee of a number of start-ups, I have spent a lot of time on the road. The more I travelled, the more I longed to be back home and to be a part of those things that I had been missing. I wanted to feel connected to my friends and family in my neighborhood, and to find out what was happening to those people I cared for, in the place I most wanted to be. I realized that I could put my previous experience to use as CEO of a social networking company for the good of local community - that’s when DeHood started.
The more I focused on what was going on in my local area, the more I realized that my neighbors were focused on similar things - whether it be trying to organize a street party or a pot luck, or an informal email list that had been started to tip people off about reported crimes or suspicious activities – I decided build something to facilitate such activities and bring together all these efforts and energies and help focus them in one place. Initially, the goal was to make the neighborhood safer, cleaner, greener, and overall a better experience for all. Once I started telling my neighbors what I was doing, the list just kept growing!!
I was asked to include: private and secure ways for families to keep each other posted about their movements and activities, scheduling tools for school pick up and sports teams, the ability to let people know about community events held by our local city government, police departments, fire departments, community centers, churches, and schools.
What we ended up with is a safe, free, real-time service that enables families, friends, and neighbors to connect and help each other in as many different ways as they could envisage. For example, by including a location-based element, we allow people to report lots of real-time information back into the community, such as traffic issues, crimes, or ad hoc coffee get-togethers .
When I told local businesses what we were doing, they got really excited and suggested other ways that they could connect with the community. They felt terrorized by Yelp - if you had a bad experience, tell the business first, let them address it if they care. They wanted a private line to consumers, especially those that mattered the most – those who lived locally.
We then also started getting calls from local non-profits who had heard what we were doing, while many global and national causes are getting great play, local causes are really hurting in the current economy and simply do not have the wherewithal to get their word out. We picked one for ourselves, because we felt it was the cornerstone of all civil improvement; Education. Hence the spelling of dEhood with an E and not an A. We will introduce ways where neighbors will be able to better support schools in their town and we will partner with national and local organizations to figure out ways to contribute to improving education locally.
So, what started because I was feeling disconnected from my neighborhood has turned into a passion of mine to bring people together at a hyper-local level. I am already more connected to my neighborhood that I’ve ever been, and even when I’m on the road, I can now still play an active role and really make a difference to what goes on around me. DeHood is for real people, in real-time in their real lives.
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