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Sewickley

Thankr: Sewickley moms create app to making thanking tech-friendly

| Monday, Nov. 27, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

As Charlie Pyle, 9, opened each birthday present from friends and family, mom Beth took a video to send as a “thank you” to the gift-givers.

They picked a background theme, typed a message and off it went.

Within 30 minutes, Charlie — with the help of mom — had opened all of his presents and sent thank you messages to everyone who gave him a gift.

Normally, the task of writing “thank you” cards for Charlie would take a lot longer, often sitting down with mom and dictating what he wanted to say and her writing out his every word.

“Yeah, it takes me two days, more like two weeks to write them,” Charlie said, as he covered his face and smiled.

The Thankr app, created by Sewickley residents and moms Danielle Gillespie and Beth Pyle, is geared to make it easy and fun to thank people.

The app is available for iPhones and on Google Play. It allows users to take video or photos either with the app or ones already on their phone, place them with a themed background, write a thank you message and send it via text message or email or post it to Facebook.

As moms, Gillespie and Pyle both said they believe in the importance of gratitude and saying “thank you” to people for any kind act. However, they've each spent days or even weeks waiting for their children to write out a thank you card to friends and family.

“We both are very hands on with our families, with our kids, and we both strongly believe in the power of gratitude and thanking people,” Gillespie said. “We both force our kids to write thank you notes and sometimes I'm serious when I say force.”

Gillespie watched as her son, now a sophomore in college, had a stack of thank you cards to send for his high school graduation gifts sitting there for what seemed like a long time.

When her daughters turned 16, she watched as they sent Snapchat messages to friends with their gifts.

That's when the idea for Thankr was born.

“I started thinking, wouldn't that be cool if they could send that to their grandparents or other adults who are not on Snapchat?” Gillespie said. “I got to thinking, can we turn this into an app, just to make it more fun?”

Gillespie approached Pyle, who talked to friends about the idea to see if there was an interest. They all had positive feedback.

“To me this was a great idea because it was more fun,” Pyle said. “The kids could send a video, I could take a picture of them opening their gift, they could actually articulate a thank you on their own.”

Gillespie, who has worked in technology since college and already has an app for the wine industry, had the resources to make it happen.

The feedback from family and friends since the app's launch has been positive. The app is not yet making money, but there are hopes that it someday will.

The two are launching a corporate Thankr app that will assist businesses in sending “thank yous” to employees or clients utilizing customizable templates.

Both Gillespie and Pyle are focused on volunteering in the community and their company will have a focus for any future employees that it's important to have a “healthy body, mind and soul,” Gillespie said.

For now, they want to focus on showing gratitude.

“It's important to recognize the things that people do,” Pyle said.

Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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