Technology That Makes it Easier to Give and Receive with Jean Miller Truelson of Flower
While most often referred to as Jean Miller Truelson, the Dogpatch Technology and Flower App Co-Founder, is also known as “Ms. Silicon Valley”, a title was she recently awarded at the Hack CancerSF Startup Pitch Competition.
“I remember a time when I was in high school where my parents always wanted me to be an entrepreneur,” Jean shared, “I remember distinctly, turning to my father and saying no, I just want to work for a big company and work as a VP somewhere.”
Jean’s corporate dream has since expanded. In 2011, Jean and her husband co-founded Dogpatch Technology. Their attention has now turned to Flower, an app changing the way we care for each other by making it easier for us to give and receive when we’re in need.
Jean explained the genesis of her idea, “My father was diagnosed with cancer, and I became his caregiver with my mother. Not long after that, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. In the course of caregiving, I became frustrated with the tools that I had.”
With that experience, Jean knew what was difficult about the caregiving process and the inefficiencies of the tools that existed. She related, “What was really the most challenging was trying to coordinate friends and family. They were using all sorts of different tools including spreadsheets, hand-printed calendars, and a little bit of Facebook. There was nothing that made that easy. We decided, let’s build something to try to make this easy for everyone.”
The second version of Flower was released in the app store this August.
Making it Easier to Give and to Receive
From the launch of Flower, Jean and her team have gotten a lot of helpful feedback. She shared, “We found that people gave 5x more than they asked for help, and that’s one of the fundamental differences between us and the other tools out there. Most tools require us to ask for help, but we hate asking for help. Most of us have a real problem with that even if we need help. Flower makes it easier for all of us to give, and then after that we’ve seen it makes it easier to accept.”
Jean observed a psychological tendency and designed her app around that. She understands that she can’t fix people, but she can create a program that will make it easier for them to get the help they need.
“We’re hoping that we’ll be able to use this even more broadly than the cancer use case. I’ve pitched Flower to help refugees as they come into the country. Intake organizations are so overwhelmed with just trying to get refugees into the country, they don’t know where to start with integrating them into communities.” Jean noted. From new parents and the unemployed to people who’ve undergone surgery, Flower can help us care for those around us.
An interesting aspect of Flower is its superpowers. Jean explained, “Superpowers are like superman. Superman flies, it’s his kind of mundane thing, but for the rest of us, it’s super. It means a lot. In the same light for us, a superpower can be pretty mundane. I’m willing to sit in a waiting room with a friend who doesn’t know what his/her diagnosis is going to be. For me, sitting in a waiting room can be mundane, but for my friend, that’s super.”
Flower brings the ability to share your superpower with your friends and family, give in the way that you can, and change someone’s life in the process.
A Journey of Resilience
Jean with her mom
At the beginning of Jean’s career, she heard people say again and again, follow your bliss. The problem was that she didn’t know what that was for her. Jean loved international work and learning about different cultures and how people communicate cross-culturally, which stemmed from growing up with parents that came from two different cultures, but she wasn’t sure how that would apply in her career.
From finance to virtual worlds, everything Jean has done has been about international cross-communications and that’s what she hopes for Flower as well. “In a way, I actually followed my bliss, but didn’t realize it.” Jean realized.
Starting a company was not originally in Jean’s plans. She described, “I say this gently, many women are a little more hesitant about going out and starting company, myself included. I felt like I needed more education to start a company and that I needed be more prepared.”
Jean’s husband, Palmer, went straight into entrepreneurship after college. His point of view had a major impact on Jean. She shared, “He kept saying to me for years, actually you do want to start a company because I had ideas. I had a list of 30 products I wanted to build. Finally I realized, wow a lot of people don’t have that list.”
As Jean’s been on her journey through entrepreneurship, resilience has been key. She explained, “Being able to fail is about being resilient. It’s about how you pick yourself up from failing. The creative process is difficult and you’ll need to have those tools to recover. That’s why we’re building Flower. Flower will help you be more resilient. We can’t get through all our challenges alone, and that’s why we built a tool to help us get through it.”
What’s more is the definition of success and failure. Jean shared, “There’s a lot to what success means and how to define that. What may be a failure for me, may be a huge success for someone else because they would have otherwise never tried. I don’t know what the future will hold but I know that I have already succeeded with trying and that is more than most people can say.
Jean is an inspiring example of what happens when you are resilient. As Flower continues to grow and be adopted for all kinds of purposes, people around the world are getting and giving help. Jean has used her knowledge to create something that helps people give in a more effective way. Check out the Flower App to see Jean’s hard work and offer your loved ones a helping hand.
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