A single mother of two boys ages 10 and 12, grief is no stranger to Kim Libertini. Over the past 10 years, Kim has lost her grandmother, father, mother, marriage and then most recently, in 2015, the man she considered her life partner died suddenly after they had been traveling together to Vietnam. Kim has learned that each type of grief is very different and compounded by other life experiences. Recognizing that grief is hard and the griever needs to feel understood and not isolated in their sadness, Kim and Decatur resident, Robynne Boyd, co-founded Goodgrief app.
While technology and app development are new to Kim, helping others is not. Kim’s career began in academic research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, wanting to understand the genetics of cancer and gene expression patterns using DNA microarray technology. She spent some time as an adjunct professor of genetics and biology at the graduate and undergraduate level at CW Post Long Island University. Her love for science and helping others led Kim to dedicate the past 19 years to teaching biology students in grades 7-12 and was recently appointed the K12 STEM Director at Cold Spring Harbor Central School District on Long Island.
Where did the idea for Goodgrief come from?
Goodgrief grew from a unique friendship. About 3.5 years ago Kim and Robynne were connected through a friend of the man Kim had lost. Both Kim and Robynne were going through their own respective heartache due to loss. Kim lost her partner suddenly and unexpectedly. Robynne said a slow goodbye to her mother because of metastatic breast cancer and became a single mother around the same time. There were commonalities they shared that centered around grief: Kim understood losing a marriage and raising two boys as a single mom as Robynne was experiencing that. Kim had lost her mom to a debilitating disease and Robynne’s pain was palpable to her. There was no judgement between them about grief. They started texting about life and love and loss and meaning and kids and family. Kim lives in Huntington, NY – Robynne in Decatur, GA. They became a life-boat of support for each other. At some point, they said “we should create this for others!” And so they have – a digital space for others to find comfort, support and understanding.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wake up early, 4am to be exact. My day starts by grabbing a good workout at Orange Theory Fitness. From that point on, my day is a well executed juggle between single motherhood, my full-time career in education and managing Goodgrief app. My two boys are off to school at 6:45 and I am quickly on the road to my full time job from 7:30-3:00pm. I have learned to conduct interviews and meetings in the car during my long commute to and from work. All of the social media posting for goodgrief app is scheduled using an online scheduling software every Sunday for the entire week. Robynne and I have found that real-time document sharing features enable effective communication between us as we run through ideas for the app. I rely heavily on my digital calendar a to keep appointments for me and the kids and set reminders for important deadlines. Much of the Goodgrief app work is done after my boys are settled in for the night. Somewhere inbetween, I squeeze in the other tasks involved in being a single parent. I go to bed late, so that I maximize the amount of time in my day to fit everything in.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Interestingly, Robynne and I have a well balanced skill set. We both are scientific by nature and driven by facts. In order for ideas to become reality, we research extensively and explore all available options. I work most productively with deadlines and am task oriented. Robynne, my Co-Founder, is outstanding at making connections and reaching out where we need it. Her career is in journalism and she manages to assign the perfect words to our thoughts. We meet weekly online or by phone to discuss the company goals, share ideas and delineate the set of tasks necessary to make our vision a reality.
What’s one trend that excites you?
We are excited to see an increased number of women entrepreneurs establishing themselves in both the technology arena and in the mental health/ grief field.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I don’t require many hours of sleep. This has enabled me to carve out the time to complete tasks for the business.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Humans plan, life laughs. Life often fails to follow the plan. Don’t get discouraged with the disappointments. You must continue to reinvent and recreate. Just stay focused on your long term goals.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Going out of your comfort zone is one of the best things you can do.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Recognizing the app continues to be a work in progress, we are constantly using analytics to determine how to meet the needs of our users. It is imperative to reflect, always be willing to adjust and make changes along the way.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
We used a public relations specialist to share the Goodgrief App story beyond it’s existing reach.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Our first platform model was pay-per-use and we were selling to the wrong audience. We have since switched to a sponsorship platform where our target audience is now groups that offer grief services and/ or support to the grief community.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
We would like to write a book about our incredible life stories that eventually merged.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
We spent $100 on Facebook ads that are targeted to specific audiences in order to extend our reach. It yielded a substantial increase in app downloads and provided us with valuable population analytics.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Buffer is a software application we use to manage all of our social media accounts that allows us to schedule posts to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Each week, we pre-schedule all of our posts for the entire week. Using this method helps us to organize our posts and reduces our daily workload.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Legacy by James Kerr
The book examines the success of the world’s best sports team, New Zealand’s All Blacks rugby team. At the heart of the success are these lessons of character, purpose, preparation, learning, leadership and sacrifice that can be applied to both life and business.
What is your favorite quote?
“Vision without action is a dream.
Action without vision is a nightmare.”~James Kerr, Legacy
- Our app developed from a unique friendship that centered around grief.
- It took a tremendous amount of organization, modern technology and hours in the day to turn our vision into a reality.
- Goodgrief app is never a completed project. We are constantly examining the analytics and looking for ways to improve the app as our Social Network For Loss community continues to grow.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.