K – Appreciate People (Formerly Known as Kudos)

A fun way to appreciate people publicly and to form a positive community around the great things people do for each other


Kudos is a public acknowledgment of someone’s good deeds, talents, or accomplishments, no matter how big or small. We think that showing appreciation is the cornerstone of every great community, whether that be among a group of friends, in classrooms, or in the workplace. Recognizing people publicly is not only a positive experience for the recipients of kudos, it is also a healthy habit for those who give.

Kudos (http://www.thumbsuplabs.com/kudos) was developed because all too often great things people do for each other go either unrecognized or unrecorded. New technological trends like social networks and mobile devices call for a better way to appreciate people. With the Kudos mobile app, you select a recipient, write a short message, choose an image to personalize, optionally attach a small gift, and send it out. Kudos are all public and posted on social networks (currently Facebook only). Within the app, you can also browse through kudos your friends have sent or get inspired by “ideas” other people in the community have been inspired by, e.g. “kudos to teachers” or “kudos to roommates”.

We think Kudos can particularly help with three basic relationship skills: self-awareness, authenticity, and trust.

Self-awareness is at the heart of Kudos for both givers and receivers. For kudos givers, taking a moment to recognize those people around them that have had positive impacts on their lives leads to being more aware of the blessings they have received in their lives. For kudos receivers, they can grow in awareness of their own strengths and the positive impacts they have on others’ lives.

Authenticity is another important relationship skill that may not come easily through common day-to-day interactions but can be encouraged through Kudos. Being authentic means being able to appreciate people for who they are and being able to make that appreciation known to the rest of one’s community. Kudos makes this sort of communication easier than ever and less awkward.

Finally, Kudos is about fostering a community built on trust. Given a place to celebrate and acknowledge each other on a daily basis, communities can grow and learn to rely on each other more. We are taking the exchange of gratitude between two people and amplifying it for the community. It becomes an opportunity for the community to learn about all the ways people are being helpful to others, encouraging a strong sense of trust and rapport between members.

For those used to expressing their appreciation for others on a daily basis already, Kudos makes that process easier, faster, and more engaging. But perhaps more importantly, we think Kudos can be a learning environment for those who are not used to the values outlined above. The technology and features we are building are thus aimed at encouraging these values. Currently, kudos are shared through social networks like Facebook, reaching a wide audience and enabling viral growth as more and more people learn about it. As a mobile app, kudos can send regular reminders for upcoming birthdays, for thanking event hosts after they happen, and more. Because it is on mobile devices, it enables a quicker-than-ever personalization with photos. Finally, gift cards can be bought, sent, and redeemed right from their phones without the hassle of mailing things out or printing out barcodes.

We are passionate about making this product as easy to use as possible. Our engineering practices place a great emphasis on design, in terms of both user interaction and aesthetics. Regular user feedback sessions and analytics data on how users are engaging with our product will ensure this product is accessible to all.

There are several mobile apps today that serve as personal journals of gratitude, but none have really taken advantage of the wide reach of social networks today. We think that for a product like this to have traction and be engaging from day one, we need tight integrations with how people share information today — which is primarily through social networks like Facebook.

Our focus on mobile also sets us apart. The technology landscape of how friends and communities communicate have drastically changed recently with the proliferation of smart mobile devices. Our product aims to be mobile-first and take advantage of all its capabilities. 1) This means that people can now show their appreciation anywhere they are, not just in front of their computers. Right after great interactions — for example, someone giving you a ride to the airport or somebody hosting a great party — is when your appreciation is freshest in your mind, and you can share it right away. 2) It is also likely your phone’s camera has already taken pictures from that party or event. You can quickly make a more meaningful and personalized “card” for your kudos. 3) You can give quick and fun gifts, like a coupon for “a beer on me”. Your friend can “redeem” the coupon by sending you a quick notification next time you are catching up at a bar together. Real gift cards like $5 at Starbucks could also be sent. In this case, your friend can simply show the barcode from his/her phone at any Starbucks to redeem.

All these experiences add up to having one app where you can appreciate people and share that appreciation with the community. There are no other mobile social networks dedicated to appreciating people today, and we think this is an important step towards how technology can be leveraged for positive behavior change.

Engineer Development: $50,000
2 Engineer Full Time (3 Months)
1 Designer Full Time (3 Months)
Monthly Overhead: $200 / Month
Gift Transaction
Server Costs
Note: As usage grows the monthly overhead will multiply accordingly.

Launch Timeline:
Nov 2011: Idea Inception
Dec 2011: Alpha released to Friends
March 2012: Beta released to App Store
May 2012: Open invite launch

ThumbsUp Labs was incorporated in February of 2012. Paul, Mark, and Will have been working together since November of 2011 on several mobile apps including Kudos.

Paul studied Electrical Engineering (B.S.) and Management Science & Engineering (M.S.) at Stanford. He was the lead product manager for Android Market at Google, and launched high-impact mobile products like in-app billing and the new Android Market with books, movies, and apps.

Mark studied Cognitive Science (B.S.) and minored in Computer Science at UCLA. He was a consultant at Accenture before working on several iPhone apps, such as Pupil.

Will studied Computer Science (B.S. and M.S.) and focused on Human-Computer Interaction at Stanford. He was a software engineer on Google’s search features team. working on various user-facing features on google.com.

(v) We have a growing community of users who are engaged with the product and have given us lots of positive feedback. There have been over a thousand kudos submitted in the short time that it’s been in private beta (~ 1 month).

We have received numerous five-star reviews on our app from the power users who love it especially (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/kudos-appreciate-people/id508641421?mt=8).