Our Mayberry, a Bellevue-based company with an online platform that brings causes and businesses together to create a unique marketplace, has emerged at a critical time for non-profits and is proving itself in a new attack-hunger program with Seattle-area Rotary clubs.
Two recent developments have set the stage for the emergence of a company like Our Mayberry, coincidentally at a time when AmazonSmile, the decade-old program to donate half of one percent of Amazon purchases to charities, is being shuttered.
As co-founder and CEO Shawn Tacey explains it: “we’ve moved into the era of belief-driven marketing where businesses share their beliefs and causes in their marketing.
“But the internet and social media have also brought us to the era of surveillance capitalism, a term derived from Harvard Business School. I concluded that Internet 2.0 companies were using technology to isolate, manipulate, and ultimately automate humans and their behavior,” he said.
For Tacey, 53, a Bellevue attorney who has moved to Phoenix, the goal was to foster belief-driven marketing and push back against surveillance capitalism by imagining a community where neighbors cared about neighbors.
So the place that came to mind was the imaginary television town where neighbors cared about neighbors enough that Otis, the town drunk, could even check himself into jail at night and out in the morning while being treated with dignity and respect by Andy and Barney. Andy Griffith’s Mayberry.
Thus was born Our Mayberry as a platform that could help create that neighborhood, where businesses could care for community needs through the nonprofits that were at work meeting those community needs.
Our Mayberry was founded in 2018 and Tacey and his team, including co-founder and chief technology officer Chris Nakea, spent a year and a half working on various pilots and testing groups to get the alpha product released.
Nakea, 59, the builder and architect of the Our Mayberry platform, summarized the company’s purpose as “giving consumers the tools to take nonprofits out of having to beg for money.”CEO Shawn Tacey's goal was to foster belief-driven marketing and push back against surveillance capitalism
The company was prepared to launch in the spring of 2020 in Sioux Falls, SD, which had what Tacey called “significant ‘community capital’ and reminded him of Mayberry and, Tucson, AZ.
COVID put those launch plans on hold so the company went to work on contactless payment systems to use the Our Mayberry platform and by June of 2021, as Tacey was preparing for a major business event in Moscow, ID, to collect businesses in that area, he got COVID.
And that June 2021 experience threatened to end the company for a time as COVID threatened to take Tacey, who recalls being hospitalized and in ICU with pneumonia in both lungs, being placed on a ventilator, and in a drug-induced coma for five and a half weeks.
“I lost 80 pounds, suffered hemothorax in both lungs, sepsis twice, and was written off for dead,” he recalls. “On August 7 I woke up and started breathing on my own though my diaphragm had atrophied to less than one percent functionality.”
What followed was his comeback, which included another drug-induced coma and tracheotomy, and an x-ray of his lungs “that showed miraculously all the damage preciously indicated was gone, including zero scar tissue.”
Following rehab, he’s been working on his physical recovery ever since, noting “I have been blessed to have use of my body, be off oxygen and be able to lead Our Mayberry in its vision and purpose.”
CTO Chris Nakea:
'We're giving consumers the tools to take nonprofits out of having to beg for money.'
The company’s opportunity now, with Tacey back at the helm and the business hunt well underway again, is not just the end of AmazonSmile, of which Tacey remarked “Amazon used it more as a gimmick while we use e-commerce for charity as a lifestyle.”
Also providing opportunity is the crisis of confidence and integrity facing many non-profits, such as the recent disclosures about Russell Wilson’s foundation and its use of funds and CVS, the pharmaceutical giant, using customer donations to fund the company’s charitable commitment.
The company is particularly excited about the Rotary fight-hunger campaign and its broad-based visibility.
“The Our Mayberry team and our community of partners are excited to come together in the fight against hunger with Rotary in Western Washington and plan to make this an annual event,” said Nakea.
I first met Nakea, a native Hawaiian, about 15 years ago, incidentally when I was doing some consulting for Enterprise Honolulu and we became friends but hadn’t been in contact for years until he reached out to me about Our Mayberry.
In summing up what lies ahead, Tacey said: “This company has overcome extraordinary adversity by the conviction and enduring belief of our team and investors that we are revolutionizing charitable giving and investing in ideas that benefits humanity.”