Award winning social entrepreneur Melissa Helmbrecht latest endeavor is Splashlife, which opened its virtual doors this week, creating a new kind of membership network for young Americans. It’s a social network to help keep young people active and participating in a positive way. Splashlife’s business model operates on the speculation that these young people need a community or advocacy group.
Helmbrecht bases Splashlife on her college experience when she faced her own uncertainty as a student at American University. She often stood outside the Eastern Market Metro Station in Washington, D.C., begging people for spare change in order to finish her college education. I must admit it is hard for me to imagine such a dynamic individual begging for money at a Metro Station.
What makes the social media unique is that Splashlife provides a network of support and information, including premium content and the tools necessary to help young people navigate the challenges they may face. The web site calls itself a movement. “It’s you, it’s us, it’s the intern at the next computer, and the guy serving you coffee at your corner cafe. It’s all of us together — what we are now, but more important, what we’re capable of being and creating. There are 75 million of us, and that’s a big number. Imagine what will happen when we all get together.”
Already in place is a comprehensive loyalty and rewards program, which delivers exclusive benefits, deals, and discounts on everything from jeans to airfare. The award points are based on participating in the social network by commenting on stories and submitting articles, videos, or photos. Members can flex their social muscle by signing a petition, registering a friend to vote, or finding and participating as a volunteer in a social activity.
“I made a decision that if I ever found a path forward, I’d dedicate the rest of my life to encouraging young people, letting them know they are not alone,” she says. “With Splashlife, I’m delivering on that promise…and then some.”
Hambrecht spent the last two years compiling a dream team of influential players from Hollywood to Washington, D.C. What a dream team! The members include feature film producer and award-winning philanthropist Peter Samuelson, former president of Virgin Records Ray Cooper, co-owner of the Philadelphia Eagles and executive producer of the 2011 Academy Award-winning film Inside Job Christina Weiss Lurie, leading D.C. youth advocate Thaddeus Ferber, and Motorola Mobility board member and former CFO of Dell, Tom Meredith. She can’t lose with this team.
Splashlife has also inspired recent Yale graduate Allison Williams, star of the upcoming Judd Apatow-produced HBO series Girls and Whoopi Goldberg, who mentioned Helmbrecht on The View. Whoopi put it this way, “Seems like there’s a group for everybody — the AFL-CIO, the NRA, the DNC, the RNC. There’s one for teachers, doctors, lawyers, bus drivers, and coal miners, but nothing for our most important group and the future of this country: our young people. Who’s there for them?”
Helmbreacht’s vision of Splashlife is to fill that void, to help empower 75 million young Americans. It will be interesting to see how Splashlife develops to fill that void.