Act 2: You're On!

Story of Reinvention, Technology, Connection & Community, with Verbina Entrepreneur Beverly Klau

December 05, 2022 Kate & Rhonda Season 3 Episode 9
Act 2: You're On!
Story of Reinvention, Technology, Connection & Community, with Verbina Entrepreneur Beverly Klau
Show Notes Transcript

Whose up for a reinvention story at the intersection of technology, entrepreneurship, connection, and community? Meet Beverly Klau - educator, facilitator, connector, and mom whose mission in life has been to build inclusive communities allowing individuals to show up with dignity and authenticity.
 
You’ll learn how this community activist launched multiple programs to build community and packaged up that know-how, creating Verbina, which you’ll want to immediately go download in the app store!

Designed to foster a deep sense of connection and community using technology, Verbina is an easy, accessible app helping families share messages of support to loved ones living with an illness. Tune in for a fabulous conversation about reinvention and invention.

Highlights include:
“...if you have the app on your phone, and you're ready to invite people into a conversation, your next step is to create an invitation. And I have a sample gallery on the app - it's called "Support for Susan." So it really illustrates like, "Oh, how does this work?" - and you see that there is an invitation, a woman who's saying, you know, this is Deb, I'm Susan's friend, Susan's battling cancer. And she invites other people in to send messages of support to her friend, Susan, who is battling cancer. And so Deb has invited others into this conversation. And that's really how the app works. So you have a curator, and they invite others contributors to contribute their video messages of love and support.”

“I couldn't sleep because, like, there was this very loud voice, like a call - like, “You're gonna have to build this - you figured out that there's a need.” I then was like, “All right, I guess I'm gonna start to see what this is all about.” So then I started the process of interviewing developers and going down that path. But to answer your question, I really wanted to replicate the power of holding space that I had been able to do in person. I thought if we could bring that to scale but also make it asynchronous so that people could hold space in a global way and also asynchronously. So I thought, well -  let's see if we can make this work.”

For more info about Bev:
Website: https://verbina.app/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/VerbinaApp

https://www.jewishboston.com/read/jewish-mom-launches-verbina-a-digital-storytelling-app/



Support the show
Rhonda: Welcome to Act 2:

You're On!. Join Us Weekly at our studio roundtable. As Rhonda

Kate:

and Kate invite spectacular guests to weigh in on staying vibrant and healthy.

Rhonda:

Launch your next great app with authenticity and purpose.

Kate:

Summon your courage superstar and step into the limelight. So grab a coffee

Rhonda:

or a martini

Kate:

and let's set the stage for a grand entrance. It's Act Two.

Act 2 Share Our Stage:

You're on.

Rhonda:

Greetings friends. I am Rhonda Garvin Conaway and I am joined in the studio today with my co host,

Kate:

Kate Leavey. And we're also joined by our talented producer behind the scenes Cathy Carswell. Welcome.

Rhonda:

Welcome to today's episode of Act Two You're On.

Beverly Klau:

Thank you so much. This is such a treat. I'm very excited for us to chat with our guest who's going to

Rhonda:

We are thrilled you are here. And even though I'm a share with us about technology, entrepreneurship, connection and community and her bravery into a new career. Let's talk about Bev little tongue tied, it's because I'm so excited to talk about Klau, an educator, facilitator, connector and mom - say that three times fast folks, she's got a mission in life to build technology. And sometimes technology makes me feel tongue inclusive communities that invite individuals to show up with dignity and authenticity. She spent over a decade teaching in classrooms has led programs that invite mothers and teenage tied and gets my wires all crossed in my brain. So daughters to connect at a deeper level - spent summers strengthening community at overnight camp. She's also a community activist who has launched multiple programs to congratulations. First of all - on doing this venture. This is build community in her town. In 2015, Bev built a program at her children's elementary school called HUG, which stands for help us greet this program served to welcome new immigrants

Beverly Klau:

Great. So Verbena is an app that makes it easy to super exciting. I downloaded the app. And as tricky as technology to the community. During the same time when she was building HUG, they have created a community dinner program piecemeal in partnership with other local organizations. Not can feel. It was very user-friendly. Right here. So long ago, Bev looked around for an app designed to foster that deep sense of connection and community using technology and she couldn't find it. So she decided to create it and create appreciated. It had welcome videos and just a very warm, it she did. Verbena is the name of the app. And today we're going to learn about this app and about Bev's venture into clear introduction to what it's all about. But there are folks entrepreneurship and Verbena. Welcome to the A2YO studio. listening today that I don't think maybe know about Verbina or they have not yet downloaded the app. So by the end of the program, we're going to have them doing that. But right now let's talk about what is Verbina in the first place. How can folks benefit from downloading this app? collect stories, and really collect messages of love and support for patients, caregivers and the people who love them. So the the goal here is really to use technology for healing and connection.

Kate:

That's beautiful. And I wonder, what's the significance of the name Verbena?

bev:

Well, it is not easy to come up with a name. We, you know, you start looking for a name. Anyone else has gone down this road, many of names have been taken. I wanted to have a name that brought about that. This app is all about relationships, conversation connection, which is all very natural. So I wanted to have a name that drew from the natural world. And Verbena is a plant the Verbena is a plant that grows naturally for many years, people benefited from the it was believed that serotonin you can raise your serotonin levels from from the essence of this plant. And so that was part of what attracted me to the name. And then also we kind of changed the spelling of it. So it's V E R B I N A. and drawing from Bina means wisdom in Hebrew. So it has kind of like mystical roots. And this idea of we wanted this to be an app that was used in a wise way like I wanted to use technology to heal the world, rather than divide it.

Kate:

Hmm. I love everything about what you just said. I love the the thought process and the creativity. And it's very clear that this that this mission for you is deeply rooted in your core beliefs and what a great - what a great name.

bev:

Thank you. I mean it was it was not an easy process coming to it. There were many conversations, we got the whole family involved. We had - like index cards with different syllables. I think my daughter was like seven at the time. She was like, I've got it love unity, let's call it love unity. Yeah. So we it was a real process trying to come up with it.

Rhonda:

Well, I think all the entrepreneurs out there anyone who is trying to build something can appreciate that. You want it to really convey so many things and Verbina is very catchy. So congratulations on that piece to tell me about if I am interested in getting this app, and you did a beautiful description of the intent. So I have my device in hand and your apps out there. I've got the app now what do I do? And how will this help me do as you say it will connect me to other people and share the good parts of our world.

bev:

So the idea is for this app to be a real, intentional platform, this is not a space for scrolling, or for just kinda like killing time. There are other places to go for that. The idea behind Verbina is that it's a place like holding space is the idea behind Verbina. So you have your curator, the person who creates the invitation to the gallery or the conversation. And so if you have the app on your phone, and you're ready to invite people into a conversation, your next step is to create an invitation. And I have a sample gallery on the app - it's called "Support for Susan." So it really illustrates like, "Oh, how does this work?" - and you see that there is an invitation, a woman who's saying, you know, this is Deb, I'm Susan's friend, Susan's battling cancer. And she invites other people in to send messages of support to her friend, Susan, who is battling cancer. And so Deb has invited others into this conversation. And that's really how the app works. So you have a curator, they invite others contributors, to contribute their video messages of love and support. So when you have the app, the next step is okay, who do I want to invite? What kind of invitation am I going to create and really the intention that you put into the invitation, that is what's going to result in a more a more meaningful, a more sincere conversation.

Rhonda:

It sounds like that, then you have the control measures of who can access this information and be part of the conversation.

Beverly Klau:

Correct. So like, the whole idea was really to create a space that I use the framework of being a classroom teacher and a facilitator to really inform the framework for the app. So I wanted this to be a space that's private, that has real clear boundaries, the more clear the boundaries are the the deeper the conversation, the safer the space here. And so that is what we're trying to create. With Verbina, the curator has the power to also remove contributions that shouldn't be there. So I wanted to really have this be a space where you have the curator really taking on the role of facilitator as well as host.

Rhonda:

Cool, but it's in a virtual realm.

Beverly Klau:

It's all virtual. It's all a synchronous. So this is an organic, asynchronous private conversation. And I'm focusing on using Verbina to support patients, caregivers, and the people who love them. But you know, really, this can be used for us different types of people to

Kate:

What a lovely mission. And what inspired it? Rhonda talked a little bit about it in the bio, but I wonder if you could speak a little more to that.

Beverly Klau:

This was not a clear path going from a classroom teacher to tech entrepreneur by any means. This was a really messy, soul searching, long process. I went from being a classroom teacher, to being a stay at home mom, and then started to work again, in Supplementary education as a Hebrew school teacher and then working, running a Hebrew school program at our temple. And I knew I knew pretty clearly that like, I did not want to return to the classroom full time. So then what? So I started, like, testing out different things. I went and got my real estate license and did that for like, a minute. And then I thought, well, maybe I want to be a counselor. Like I really enjoy helping people supporting them. And I feel like I've done a lot of counseling with, with students and with parents as a teacher, so I thought, well, maybe I'll be a counselor and I started to take classes. And I thought, No, this isn't quite right. I just want to like for people to think that like, it was a thought out plan. It was not. But I I realized like I was like, you know, I love facilitation. I love holding space. I love building community. Gosh, I wonder if there's like a way to do that at scale, I'm sure there's already an app that does that. There's the technologies out there that must already exist. And so as you said, in the bio, like, I started looking for that app that I was sure existed, and I couldn't find it. And then I couldn't sleep because like, there was this very loud voice, like a call that like, "you're gonna have to build this, like you, you figured out that there's a need." I just then was like, "All right, I guess I'm gonna, like, start to see what this is all about." And so then I started the process of like, interviewing developers and going down that path. But to answer your question, I really wanted to replicate the power of holding space that I've been able to do in person, I thought if we could bring that to scale, but also to make it a synchronous, so that people could hold space in a global way, and also asynchronously. So I thought, well, this, let's see if we can make this work.

Kate:

Thank you for sharing the journey of that, because I think for our listeners who are at points of transition, or they're yearning to do something meaningful in their next act. And it's really helpful to hear someone who is successfully walking that journey to hear that it's not linear, that you know, you look around here, you sniff over there. And then you this idea comes and then you have to do all the work to back up the idea. And I think that's really helpful that you've shared that. So I know that you are also learning as a first time entrepreneur, you must be learning tons of new things. So how is that to be in your 40s - and being a first time entrepreneur,

Beverly Klau:

It is humbling it is - it is a daily practice of being very uncomfortable, almost all the time, which is not something I'm used to I am someone who likes to check things off my list. I loved being a classroom teacher, because I felt prepared. Being an educator meant that days were unpredictable, but there was a structure around it. Whereas being an entrepreneur, I mean, it's just whack-a-mole pretty much and it's going down different paths. And it's like, "ooh, nope, that's not working. Okay, let's try something else." In terms of market fit like, that took a really long time to zero in on like, - originally, my tagline was verbina, gather stories build community, I thought that would make a lot of sense, because that's something that makes sense to me. But people thought this was an app for storytelling. And, or like, "oh, is this a place where you're gonna go if you want to, like, build a new community?" Whereas in my mind, build community means to strengthen community. So it's been it's been, it's been humbling. It's - it's exciting. And it is also like a lot of soul-searching. I think entrepreneurship takes a takes a lot of not only like tenacity, but also trust in yourself, you have to feel pretty comfortable in your skin, because you're going to be put in so many uncomfortable positions all the time. So I think it helps to feel to already feel pretty good in your own skin. But I think what's important, I think, just in general, you know, entrepreneurship is not for everyone. But I think what's important, for my path was that I really was able to like, listen to the call, I guess you'd say, and so I think for, for whatever someone is, someone's call is whether it's, you know, going back to school for a completely new career, or whether it's to experiment in a new in a new way with it, like maybe a completely new modality, it's just trusting yourself, that that call is real, you're not hearing it for any other reason, but that like trust it,

Kate:

...and the call could be uncomfortable, and that ability to be flexible, but also, to tolerate this discomfort, but to know that you can grow that. And in any dream that's worth having is going to require that flexibility, some soul-searching, but that core belief in yourself, and you can grow into that. So that's also super helpful.

Rhonda:

I would love to go back to that journey a little bit and get into some of the weeds. Much technology. Did you know? And have you had to learn at all? And you mentioned working with developers like, give us a snapshot of the specifics of going into a field that seemingly were unrelated?

Beverly Klau:

Yes, well, I I am not someone who understands technology at all. In fact, like when we started our conversation, like I couldn't even get the audio to work! So I created this app for someone who is like me, not comfortable with technology. I did not create the I've not been the coder by any means. Like I have, instead, worked in partnership with developers. I'm now working with my second shop. My first developers were in Ukraine. My developers now are in Pakistan. It's been a real journey of figuring out really more about entrepreneurship and about kind of like, what are the different pieces that I needed to put into place in terms of like building a brand figuring out, you know, we talked a little bit about the name, figuring out the market, and then how to develop partnerships and find the communities for whom I want to serve. So that's been more of the path, just learning what goes into building a brand and like getting your brand presence out there. That's, that's a lot of the work to

Rhonda:

it sounds like you have learned so much.

Beverly Klau:

Yes, I mean, we're just coming on one year of launching, we spent really the first year beta testing because originally the app was like crashing all the time. And the friends and family who I asked to be my beta testers, like the app wasn't even working when I was asking them to test it. So it took a really long time, I thought, I thought this would be much more straightforward in terms of creating the architecture. And it's like what I thought was going to be user friendly. When I actually put it together. It was like, Oh, this actually is clunky. Like, this doesn't really work. So well. The user experience is really an important piece. And you can't really test it out until it's, it's really you get to like, play with it a little bit and have other people play with it.

Rhonda:

Kate and I have had the benefit of been with her on a journey with a performing group and there from the beginning, and you would talk about how well if we compare this to the development of a human early on you it would be infancy and toddlerhood. So when you give yourself that permission, that it's a brand new thing, and really just entering toddlerhood, how's it going in this stage, just being a year old?

Beverly Klau:

I think it's going well. I mean, I've I'm excited that the app is, I feel confident that I can say like, Hey, download the app, check it out. In its first stages, I was like kind of holding my breath that it wasn't going to crash, which is a thing that happens. Like I didn't even know that that really happens. Apps can be clunky. Now I understand. But now the app is stable. And like it feels really good to be able to confidently share it with people. I'm getting much more comfortable with the mantle of being an entrepreneur. So that's, you know, part of it talking about myself and talking about the app is is new, like I'm used to talking about other people's children and talking about education like it's a it's a whole new subject. And to get more comfortable with. Talking about technologies is different. But really, the app is is really about holding space and about community, which is something that I'm really been doing for so many years.

Kate:

Yeah, and we can hear that love and dedication. From our research, we understand that Verbina invites users to be a part of an experiment to reweave our communities through conversations grounded in decency and respect. If you share that vision, you're invited to become a partner and using Verbina to build community through gathering and sharing stories that matter. In your welcome video, Bev, you also make it very clear how Verbina is intended to lift others up to be wary of Destructive behavior, that it won't be tolerated or accepted. What's your experience, like maintaining these important values in community norms.

Beverly Klau:

We put that out there like we put the intention out there like that's what this space is for. When when someone creates a Verbina gallery of Verbina conversation, they have to first invite others in there using video, which I think already makes it so that you show up authentically, the way that the structure is set up. People understand that this is a space where we want to bring our best selves and use this as a space for healing. And I think that because it just takes just a little bit more effort to create the spaces and to some to contribute a video. This is not just a quick, I'm just going to type a quick remark or a comment. It's not anonymous, people have to actually show up, you know, they're showing up on on camera, you know, on video, people put their best selves out there, this idea of really using this as a space for healing and for connection. So I think that that is happening. I have, like so many other apps, you know, we have it set up in such a way that people can flag content that is not appropriate. But really we've empowered the curators to really hold that space and to to make sure that they are creating conversations that are productive and healing.

Rhonda:

I love that there's that accountability from group members.

Beverly Klau:

Yes, you know, and all the contributors they are also you know, they can also like content if it's not appropriate.

Rhonda:

So Bev, we're shifting into one of my favorite segments of our podcast episodes where we ask our guests to weigh in on a bit of wisdom that we call the golden nugget. So thinking about what has been important information And or a monitor or something that you've relied upon in your life journey or in this particular adventure? What could you offer our listening audience so that they have something to draw upon as they go into their next great act,

Beverly Klau:

I think boundaries are really important. So boundaries on your time and also on on the people that you want to share space and time with. But what I'm thinking most specifically about is that I have the time between eight and nine every day set aside for movement for myself. And so that's like a boundary that like I have, I've kind of put into my day. For me, it's really important to move my body, I really enjoy that the way my life is set up. Now my husband and I get to do this together. So we do strength training, or yoga or pilates or go for a walk. And we do this together every day. And it's so it's not for us, it's not a question of, are we going to move our bodies or exercise today? What are we going to do not having to make the choice of am I going to move my body? It's how am I going to do it, the the shift or the golden nugget that has been really helpful for me. And also thinking of movement, the joy of movement like this is we're in our bodies. And it feels good to be in your body when you move it when you use it. And it's not a punishment to to move your body. But that has been a real shift in my life. I guess we kind of created that that habit, if you will, or that routine during the pandemic. And that has been really joyful. That's been something that I I love and look forward to. And it's always a highlight of my day.

Kate:

Nice. Thank you for sharing that I have been assigned the regrettable task of timekeeping, which means we're almost at the end of our time together. But I wonder, before we go, let me ask what's next for you, Bev?

Beverly Klau:

Great. So we are, I think a couple of weeks out from being HIPAA compliant for the for Verbina being HIPAA compliant, which means that there are few hospitals and organizations that are waiting to start some pilots with Verbina for volunteers and for other groups. And in order for us to do that, we need to be HIPAA compliant. So that is the immediate next step. And then beyond that, I'm starting to think about my first raise, I'm going to be looking to get some investors to so that I can really grow the app and start working with some more partners. So that's what's on the horizon for verbena.

Rhonda:

That is exciting. And I am guessing you're going to find great success with that intention and plan because look how far you've come. Thank you.

Beverly Klau:

I hope so I

Rhonda:

Just the fact you answered the call, but the courage you did, and now this exists in the universe,

Beverly Klau:

it's exciting. You know, I just want the app to help people. That's really been the intention all along. And so I hope by putting it very clearly with that goal that that we can, we can do that.

Rhonda:

Thank you for sharing that. And thank you for coming on today to tell us about this opportunity for folks to download at the Verbena app so that they can have a safe place to share their stories, hold space for others, and be caring community members and create connection. Thank you for today and thank you for the work you're doing.

Kate:

Thank you. I'm confident folks are gonna want to learn more immediately. So you can do that by going to www dot Verbena dot app. So that would be V E R B I N A.app. Or you can go right now to the app store and download Verbina - just do it right now. You're not gonna regret it, go to the App Store, download it. And I should say a special thanks to our talented and skilled producer behind the scenes Cathy Carswell keeping everything chugging she makes all the magic happened here.

Rhonda:

Thank you, Bev. Thank you, Cathy. And thanks for everyone for tuning in. So it's left for me to say go forth. Be brave, live well and do good because it's Act 2

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your on

Kate:

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Rhonda:

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Kate:

I do like coffee.

Rhonda:

No No - you don't need any more caffeine, Kate. Buy a coffee is a platform that folks can use to support entrepreneurs and artists like us

Kate:

So we can keep providing resources for the doers and dreamers to find connection, purpose and the skills needed to create a sustainable, fulfilling life to better serve the world. And also so we can buy more coffee.

Rhonda:

Oh Kate, thanks for listening everyone.