2018 SVP Startup Profile: Gentle
April Chen ‘19
Tell me a little bit about your company Gentle?
Gentle bridges the gap between empathy and action. We provide a meaningful way for people to connect with each other, and we do this through cards.
What is the story behind Gentle?
During my sophomore year of college, Babson’s campus was going through a lot of grief. I, myself, was coming out a grieving process as my friend had committed suicide. Through these experiences, I had this conviction that there needs to be more compassion and understanding not only on my campus, but in a larger context. My first thought was, where could I start. I saw a lot of sympathy cards being passed around, but they weren’t as meaningful as they could be. These cards lacked connection and connection is what makes a difference and impact. Being an artist and a designer, I knew I could make these cards something great. I reached out to Michelle, my best friend and Wellesley College student, and together we co-founded what has developed into Gentle.
What is the most valuable thing you’ve gained from the Summer Venture Program?
By far, the people have made this program great. I learn so much from observing how other entrepreneurs operate and push forward their companies. Specifically, on the business to business front, I am constantly learning from those around me. One of the most valuable parts of the Summer Venture Program (SVP) has been all of the workshops and community events I’ve had access to.
What’s been a milestone/accomplishment you’ve made since the Summer Venture Program started?
As I mentioned earlier, I have really been able to develop the business to business side of Gentle this summer. I am finding ways to partner with companies, specifically by curating cards that reflect their companies’ culture. I see this has a huge avenue for Gentle.
What’s been an obstacle/surprise you’ve faced?
Re-messaging and rebranding Gentle has been the greatest challenge I’ve faced this summer. Connection and empathy are some of the core values of Gentle, but being able to work with my advisor to dig deeper into the meaning of Gentle has been proven to be difficult. It takes a lot of time, thought, and energy to brand a company. Don’t get me wrong, it is a fun process, but also a constantly ongoing one. It can be difficult prioritizing branding when there are a lot of day-to-day tasks to do in order to run the business.
What is your favorite memory or moment from the Summer Venture Program?
Honestly, my Hot Seat was so much fun. During the first portion of hot seat, everyone gives you an overwhelming amount of constructive feedback and during the rebuild session people help you take that feedback and implement it. The rebuild session was so exciting because I had all these smart individuals throwing their ideas at me to help make Gentle better.
If you could run any company in the world, existing or not, what would it be and why?
I would love to take over the Giving Keys. This is a business that helps people transition out of homelessness through small key necklaces. Consumers can stamp any word, usually a word they want to embrace, on these necklaces. Once the person wears the necklace and feels like they’ve embodied the word, they then can give it to someone else. It’s a social impact company but with a cool twist. The Giving Keys is actually one of the companies that inspired Gentle.
What do you like to do for fun?
I love learning. Whether it be listening to podcasts, reading, or even stalking people on Instagram – I am constantly wanting to learn. I know you’re probably thinking “How do you learn through Instagram?” I’ve found some pretty interesting people and stories on Instagram, you just have to dig a little deeper. I also am a creative. I love writing, drawing, and dancing. I really want to attend a spoken word event; I know there’s some in Boston so I plan to do that soon.
What is your go-to restaurant around Workbar?
I would be too basic if I said Sweetgreen, but I would have to say Sweetgreen.
Any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs that you want to share?
Put people first. Think about how the purpose, goals, and vision of your business impacts and infleunce others. Also, know the types of people you work well with; this is crucial in running a business. So much of the startup experience has to do with talking to new people and surrounding yourself with experts in your industry. Consider people first. It is underrated advice.