After working in Corporate America for 20 years, Tiffany Cooper was not able to de-stress during a beautiful vacation in Maui.
The Scottsdale mother of three just couldn’t enjoy her time there until she woke up one morning with an amazing feeling of gratitude for what she did have in her life.
“It reawakened me to my life, the blessings and gratitude I felt,” said Cooper, who has a bachelor’s degree in communications from California State University at Hayward. “I wanted to tell everybody about it, but right before posting on Facebook, I hesitated. I thought they would think I was crazy.”
Instead of posting her newfound gratitude, she went for a run, and that’s when the concept for RealSoulful.com was born. She thought: Why not build a soulful networking site that is all about acts of kindness, living a fulfilling life and sharing the good in the world?
“It’s not about social networking; it should be about soulful networking,” said Cooper, who originally wanted to be a rock ‘n’ roll journalist for Rolling Stone magazine. “There is a movement of positive psychology that shows positivity and acts of kindness can create a better life without self-medicating, which can sometimes be a Band-Aid approach. The chemicals in your brain make you feel better during acts of kindness, even if you’re just observing it.”
RealSoulful is a social networking site where members of the public can create their own positive content. “All soul, no ego” is the site’s tagline.
The website is about reflecting, reconnecting and celebrating “your magnificent self” by enjoying a space to plan your day and focus on what matters most to you.
There are certain playground rules for participants, including checking your ego at the door, being kind and not judging others, but instead offering support and inspiration.
Everyone gets their own Sanctuary page, which is like a secret diary, where they can create a mantra, set their intentions for the day, journal and create a vision board. This page can be kept private or shared with others in the Soul Central main forum. It can also be uploaded to Facebook, and soon on Twitter.
Cooper was so passionate about her project, which she hopes will turn into a full-time venture, that she invested her personal life savings of more than $100,000.
“You have to believe in what you’re doing,” said Cooper. “I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process.”
She hired a Denver Web developer to create the site and lawyers to trademark the “soulful networking” name, among other things.
The beta version of the site was launched in February and has 750 global users; 58 percent are women in the 18-39 age group.
“This is a chance to connect with like-minded souls,” Cooper said. “It’s a place of pure positivity.”
RealSoulful recently graduated from Seed Spot’s fall evening program, which helped Cooper organize a business template and put together a three-minute pitch, as well as put her in touch with Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business.
After telling her story in an entrepreneur class, three of the four student teams chose her company to write a business plan as their final class project.
Now, she has three different approaches she can use in developing the website going forward, and they devised suggestions for monetizing the site. She envisions a “freemium” model, with the basic site free and extra charges for monthly upgrades.
Cooper plans to develop a RealSoulful app by the summer, continue site development and get marketing help.
“I think this is the direction life is going,” she said. “We’re not given a handbook on how to live life. … We have the ability to impact things and teach people to live and think positively.”