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A Letter From the CEO

Strikingly

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A letter from David Chen, CEO of Strikingly.

Every day, every one of us wakes up with the ability to create something. Creativity is intrinsic to human nature. It’s present in the games that we made up as kids. It exists when we postulate, “If only….”. We all have the potential, the ideas, the energy, but many of us lack the resources to express it, to put our ideas into motion. However, this is changing.

At Strikingly, our mission is to give everyone the power to turn their creativity and ideas into reality and build brands around them. This mission shapes everything we do. We work for those passionate and creative individuals who question the status quo. We work for those entrepreneurs who have the determination to carry out projects that could change the world.

We believe that every human being is by nature, creative and entrepreneurial.

Nobel Peace Prize winner and social entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus once said, “All humans were born entrepreneurs. In caves, we were all self-employed. Finding food, feeding ourselves. That is how human history began.” Around the world, we see individuals taking action to push boundaries.

In Kampala, Uganda’s vivacious capital city, taxi drivers called boda bodas zip around on motorcycles. Most of the drivers’ incomes go towards rent payments to the motorcycle owners and the boda boda drivers are left with very little to support their families. The startup Tugende, founded by an American journalist, helps drivers buy their bikes, which in turns helps them buy homes, and send their children to school. With donations and support solicited through its website, Tugende has been able to help hundreds of boda boda drivers gain financial independence.

Tugende is a social enterprise creates opportunity through ownership by kick-starting financial independence for Ugandan motorcycle taxi drivers (boda bodas).

There’s a blind man in Hong Kong, a self-described atypical job applicant, whose mother doubted whether if he would go on to university or find work. Using his iPad’s voice feature, he was able to build a website to represent his work experience. He now works as a marketing executive at a German logistics firm.

Walter Tsui, self described atypical job applicant.

Then there’s a young girl from the Swat District in Pakistan- whose tremendous courage and fight for her freedom to education has moved the world. Through her site, she has raised over 1.5 million dollars in donations to help girls around the world gain access to education. “I raise my voice not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard."

These stories, the people in them, and their dreams, are the driving forces behind everything we do- from the product we build, to the people who work here. It’s the innate creative and entrepreneurial energy of these individuals that will continue to change the world and push humanity forward.

We believe that everyone should have an equal opportunity to turn his or her ideas into reality.

Five decades ago, scientists designed the Internet. Several years later, academics and students gained access to it. Decades later, its presence in private homes and businesses gained access to it. As Internet usage became more widespread and as its speed increased with the development of broadband, access to information became more available and in greater quantity.

 

Before its arrival, social and economic inequalities were exacerbated by limited access to knowledge. While the elite enjoyed opportunities from their exclusive accesses to resources, knowledge, and tools- individuals were left with little agency to define or take control of their own destinies. The opening of the Internet to everyone from individuals to corporations ruptured this systemic cycle of inequality.

 

Today, the Internet has now spawned multimillion-dollar industries, publishing empires, and social networks. Its unprecedented wealth of information has brought about exceptional social, political, and economic progress. It has been the battleground for exchanging political discourse and has been used as a powerful political tool. It has become a crucial medium through which people can express themselves.

 

Even when limited by totalitarian governments or authoritarian regimes, the Internet has proven to be an empowering tool for their citizens. In Egypt, for example, virtually all internet access was cut off in 2011 was the government try to quash the biggest rally against President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year-rule. After the shutdown, hundreds of individuals used old phone lines and modems to route their traffic through a volunteer network around the globe. Google, Twitter, and Internet providers around the world created work arounds for protesters to “contribute to the freedom of expression of the Egyptian people and allow them to keep a connection with the rest of the world.“

 

In the fight to keep access to the Internet open and free, President Obama has “An open Internet is essential to the American economy…By lowering the cost of launching a new idea, igniting new political movements, and bringing communities closer together, it has been one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known.”

President Obama’s speech on free and open internet on November 10, 2014.

The United Nations Human Rights Council has even called for member states to “promote and facilitate access to the Internet”, declaring that “freedom of expression on the Internet to be a basic human right.”

Though the knowledge gap is closing, the Internet still isn’t a utopia. While political entities around the world are working to protect the public right to access the Internet. There’s still another issue that has not been as vocally addressed.

There’s a monopoly over creating and spreading information. The ability to share information online is currently limited to the tech elite and to those with capital. By those who can, and not those who want to. We want to solve this problem.

The Internet’s full potential should not be restricted to just those who have the resources and know-how. Everyone should have the power to create and share information. It should be simple. It should be meant for the masses. The power to spread information and share ideas is equally as important as access to knowledge. Just like other communication tools mediums before it, the Internet reaches its full potential when the ability to use it has been democratized.

We believe in the promise of the Internet to empower everyone.

Within the past decade, a whole host of tools have harnessed the power of the Internet to augment and fuel the creative entrepreneurial process and community. Tools like Etsy, Airbnb, and Kickstarter have powered a new boom of independent entrepreneurs- by making it easier to access the resources and audience that will help them succeed. Just within the past five years, the crowd funding industry has grown 1000% and is expected to be responsible for $500 billion in funding by 2020.

 

We also, want to reinvent people’s relationship with the Internet to encourage a world of creators and of contributors. How will we help drive the growth of the creative thinkers and doers, and enable their independence? We want to democratize the ability to spread information online. We’re lowering barriers for spreading ideas and creativity by empowering anyone and everyone to turn their creativity and ideas into reality and build brands around them.

 

As an Internet company, we’ve already empowered thousands to pursue their dreams – from first-time entrepreneurs to Nobel Laureates. We’ve helped a blind man land his dream job through demonstrating his technical capabilities. We’ve launched a struggling artist’s profile to get his first acting role on national TV. We’ve enabled thousands of independent of businesses and craftsmen to build online presences and compete against chain stores. And we’re dedicated to making it happen for everyone, and for you.

 

If you share our belief in empowering the independence of thinkers and doers, come join us. The immediate mission is clear. Claim your voice. Show us what you’re passionate about. Own your dreams.

Within the past decade, a whole host of tools have harnessed the power of the Internet to augment and fuel the creative entrepreneurial process and community. Tools like Etsy, Airbnb, and Kickstarter have powered a new boom of independent entrepreneurs- by making it easier to access the resources and audience that will help them succeed. Just within the past five years, the crowd funding industry has grown 1000% and is expected to be responsible for $500 billion in funding by 2020.

We also, want to reinvent people’s relationship with the Internet to encourage a world of creators and of contributors. How will we help drive the growth of the creative thinkers and doers, and enable their independence? We want to democratize the ability to spread information online. We’re lowering barriers for spreading ideas and creativity by empowering anyone and everyone to turn their creativity and ideas into reality and build brands around them.

As an Internet company, we’ve already empowered thousands to pursue their dreams – from first-time entrepreneurs to Nobel Laureates. We’ve helped a blind man land his dream job through demonstrating his technical capabilities. We’ve launched a struggling artist’s profile to get his first acting role on national TV. We’ve enabled thousands of independent of businesses and craftsmen to build online presences and compete against chain stores. And we’re dedicated to making it happen for everyone, and for you.

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