By Dave SchwabLa Jolla High School senior Chloe Robinson got the idea for her Facebook app “Sharitable,” which allows people to share one another’s belongings, after a winter sledding trip.
As she explains it … “We had to buy all new equipment and clothes and sleds and everything and I thought, ‘I’m sure we know friends who have that stuff that we could borrow.’ When I told my father Dana, he replied, ‘Why don’t you make an effort to start something?’ So I did.”
Dana Robinson loaned his daughter about $1,500 to cover the cost of developing her new
“She hired an offshore company in Pakistan to take her idea to reality,” he e-mailed, noting Chloe managed the development of her new Facebook app by “going back and forth trying to describe her idea and then working through the process of development, hiring a separate graphics person for the logo and also fleshing out her idea into something that she filed a patent application for.”
A trademark attorney, Dana helped his daughter navigate through the patent process.
“I described how trademarks should be unique enough to become a brand, but still suggestive of the product,” he said. “First she came up with ‘Sharity,’ a Charity and Share combo. But that domain name was taken. She then landed on the idea of ‘Sharitable’ as a ‘share it’ and ‘charitable’ mashup.”
Chloe said working with overseas developers on her Facebook app via e-mail was an “interesting process,” as was hiring a company and working to produce a two-minute video to explain Sharitable and what it does.
“I had to talk to them about what I wanted portrayed in the video,” she said. “And they sent it back and I looked it over and I thought it was just perfect.”
Up and running for two years now, Sharitable is an online matchmaker, pairing people willing to share items with those wanting to borrow them. Her app is billed as “the fun and friendly one-stop online borrowing/lending community for people who are willing to share.”
Sharitable claims everyone involved benefits: lenders feel good helping others, borrowers access things they need and so save money, and the community itself prospers from the overall interaction.
Chloe said reaction has been positive. “Anybody I tell about it gets real excited and says it’s a fantastic idea,” she said, adding she’s got 50 to 100 people using Sharitable now.
Sharitable could have a future life as an iPhone app or even its own website, Chloe said. For now, she’s content to let people share things free of charge through her Internet networking site.
Dana said Sharitable has been instructive for his daughter because “the project gave her a sense of what it means to start a company.”
‘Sharitable in a Nutshell’ Video: