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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Startup's holiday wish: Al Gore

December 24, 2007

A pair of entrepreneurs are roaming the Washington mall this week in
pursuit of their holiday dream - a meeting with Al Gore.

By Brandi Stewart
December 21 2007

(FORTUNE Small Business) -- At the top of Chris Deutsch and Robert
Foster's Christmas lists is one thing: a meeting with Al Gore.

The two entrepreneurs are the founders of I Live Inspired, a website
that sends out daily text messages carrying inspirational quotes
authored by motivational experts in self-help, parenting, and business.
Deutsch and Foster have a new addition in mind to their lineup of
content "channels": a sustainability channel with quotes from former
vice president and recent Nobel Peace Prize laureate Gore.

To get the attention of the green-minded activist, Deutsch and Foster
have spent this holiday season engaged in a seven-day walking campaign
around the nation's capital.

"We think that we're offering a chance for him to broaden the reach of
his message," Deutsch said.

This isn't the first time that the two Washington, D.C., natives have
set out on foot to get the attention of a world leader. In October,
Deutsch and Foster walked 100 miles through evocatively named cities in
Indiana. The journey took them from Hope to Buddha and on to
Bloomington, where the Dalai Lama was scheduled to attend a series of
events at Indiana University and the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural
Center (TCC).

The fledgling I Live Inspired had already partnered with big name
authors, including 76ers owner and self-help specialist Pat Croce.
However, the entrepreneurs knew it would take more than a phone call to
get a meeting with His Holiness himself.

"We decided to do a symbolic, mindful walk to create some attention and
see if we could get a meeting that way," said Deutsch

It worked. The day the two arrived in Bloomington, they were granted a
session with the Dalai Lama.

"We call them pilgrims," said Lisa Morrison, TCC's public relations
director.

Deutsch and Foster were given permission to send out pre-approved quotes
from the Dalai Lama. In return, they're donating to TCC 75 percent of
the proceeds generated from the Dalai Lama-themed text messages.

In addition to sealing a business partnership, the Indiana walk worked
marketing magic: the buzz created by the journey quadrupled hits to the
company's website and brought in new subscribers.

I Live Inspired's genesis came last spring. Foster, a recovering
alcoholic and cocaine addict, began receiving motivational text messages
each morning from a friend he'd met during a 28-day stay at Father
Martin's Ashley treatment center in Havre de Grace, Md.

"The quotes provided me with a call to action I could focus on
throughout the day," Foster said.

Within a month, he was passing the messages along to more than 30
friends, including Deutsch, who worked as a fifth-grade teacher. Deutsch
decided that a business could be built around the text messages. In May,
Deutsch and Foster, both 27, launched I Live Inspired. Today, the
startup has 200 users and has generated around $145,000 to date from
subscriptions to its 14 channels.

Deutsch and Foster's company is built to travel well -- a helpful
advantage for a pair that spend so much time on the road. The software
they use to manage text-message delivery is embedded in the company's
website, allowing Deutsch and Foster to make changes or attend to
service problems from anywhere, using their wireless-equipped Gateway
laptop. E-mails reach them quickly on their Verizon Pocket PCs. When the
founders aren't walking, they run their business from Falls Church, Va.

Until December 24th, Deutsch and Foster - equipped with hats, gloves and
painted signs that read "All I want for Xmas is 7 minutes with Al Gore"
- will spend seven hours a day circling the mall between the U.S.
Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial. They're chatting anyone willing to
stop and listen about their company and desire to meet with Gore.

So far, they haven't received a response from Gore's office, but the
pair remain optimistic.

As Deutsch sees it: "Once you've met with the Dalai Lama, how can anyone
say no?" To top of page
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