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Gratitude Plus makes social networking positive, private and personal

Private social networking is making a comeback. Gratitude Plusstartup that aims to move social media in a more positive direction is expanding its wellness-focused personal reflection journal to include support for families who want to stay in touch even when they’re physically apart.

The startup, whose name reflects its core offering of a gratitude journal, is somewhat reminiscent of The track, which was built in. Path briefly emerged as a challenger to Facebook by creating a space for smaller groups of people to interact with each other. The app distinguished itself by limiting users to just 50 friends, ensuring that their interactions stay within tighter circles than on larger social networks.

For a while, Path caught on, and while it never toppled Facebook, it stood out as an example of how private social networks could work, if done right. (The company raised too much venture funding to recoup its investment with no exit, so Path was sold to Korea’s Kakao in 2015.)

Similarly, Gratitude Plus is not intended for use with a general audience. Instead, it encourages users to establish healthier relationships and better mental health habits by offering a space to journal, track moods and keep in touch with family and friends through small, private «circles» within its app.

Image credits: Gratitude Plus

«I designed it to be very simple,» says Daniel Shaffer, founder and app developer based in New York. «I wanted people to feel like they were writing in an elegant diary.»

When opened, the app prompts you to journal by asking a simple question: List three things you’re grateful for today. You can also change the query to other suggestions, such as «What made you laugh today?», «What are you looking forward to today?» and others, or you can write your own. Journaling reminders can also be set randomly so you can get a new one every day. If you wish, you can also include photos to illustrate their answers.

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But unlike a private journal, your answers to the app’s prompts are meant to be shared with a private group, like your family members, close friends, or even your partner.

Image credits: Gratitude Plus

«When I talked to users, they loved that this was an app where they could spend a minute or two thinking about their day,» Shaffer said.

Shaffer says he was inspired to build Gratitude Plus after his mother died. His journey with grief made him look for more accessible mental health tools, he says, and inspired him to build a wellness platform that people could use with their friends and family to stay in touch in a more positive and personal way than possible. through traditional social media. He is not alone in seeking such tools; another widow-founded startup, DayNew, offers a social platform for people dealing with grief and traumafor example.

With Gratitude Plus, however, the focus is not necessarily on healing grief, but on maintaining relationships that matter in the present.

With the new family plan launching on Mother’s Day (Sunday), up to four members can share a premium subscription for $74.99 per year.

Image credits: Gratitude Plus

In addition to private networking, the community feed, powered by individual users’ anonymous shares, also lets you see how others in the wider app community are feeling that day. Users can interact with these posts by leaving hearts or messages of support. About 50% of the app’s users share anonymously on the feed, Shaffer said.

«People feel very good when they support other people. That’s one of the magical things is if you keep going here and if you have a negative mindset, you’re going to send a few messages to people and you’re going to feel better,” he says. «A lot of people say it’s like a positive social network.»

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Gratitude Plus encourages daily habits with features like push notifications and streaks, but Shaffer thinks its bigger appeal comes from the people you use the app with: family, friends, partner, child, and others you’re interested in interacting with. Some subset of users also post on the app with a wider set of friends, such as those in a dorm or school, or even among a group of fellow YC founders, for example.

Shaffer plans to add more mental health tools to the app, such as meditation, breathing and more.

The freemium app today has more than 10,000 users, of which 650 are on a paid subscription that offers access to more features,

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