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Meet Saul Garlick of Fabric

Today we’d like to introduce you to Saul Garlick.

Saul, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
When I was 18, I pledged to build a school in Africa during a family visit to rural South Africa. That led me to study international relations and launch a nonprofit organization to fight poverty. Along the way, I realized that my core passion is for everyone in the world to have a shot at a better life. I can’t promise outcomes, but I’ve dedicated my life to helping others realize their dreams. My non-profit started working with locals to create micro-businesses in some of the poorest communities in the world—in Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa and in Panama. I believed that business could be a powerful force for good in the world, and one day I called the board of my non-profit to tell them I wanted to buy out the organization. I managed to do this and launch a for-profit company called ThinkImpact.

That led me to build a technology platform called Unleesh for on-the-go skill-building, which became a tool for nearly 100,000 international students to prepare for international travel experiences. Later, I helped build a charter school network in West Africa that served 4,000 kids a day, improving education where most people see only poverty. Now I am working on Fabric, a social app in augmented reality that allows people to share public messages as thought bubbles overhead, connecting the curious, the seekers and the authentic people out there who are open to conversations with others nearby. Giving people a platform to find each other and do incredible things together is my driving passion.

Has it been a smooth road?
I was a relatively early social entrepreneur, looking for ways make a significant difference in the world and make a profit. My different ventures show that blend of priorities (I even teach a course on Designing Social Enterprise at ArtCenter College of Design on the subject). This work is extremely hard without a proven path to success. There have been many bumps, from building the right team to raising capital, to working across the globe every day. The hardest and most exciting part of building a company is the potential to create something that matters. However, that requires an understanding of customers whilst having a clear vision for the value you will provide people. Think about the challenges we face today with COVID-19, for example. Like most businesses, Fabric has had to make changes quickly. We initially intended to go to market on college campuses and target people that are in a close proximity to one another. Now, with campuses shuttered and events canceled, we had to modify the product to allow users to see both local and global content and adjust our marketing strategy to reach out to larger national networks to attract users.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I am the Co-CEO of Fabric, a social app in augmented reality (AR) for people to share ephemeral public messages as thought bubbles overhead. Messages can include text, photos and videos and can be seen in AR by everyone within a half-mile through walls and other physical barriers. The app allows users discover and interact with people who are nearby, allowing them to create or join real-time conversations.

Given a large majority of the world’s population has been forced to adjust to social distancing, self-isolation and lockdowns amid COVID-19, social app usage is at an all-time high and Fabric offers a more authentic and helpful experience. Nowadays, most social apps remain deeply distrusted and artificial. Fabric enables real people to share in-the-moment raw content, making it the only social app that has the potential to fight against mental health issues that can typically stem from social media.

Fabric also aims to combat loneliness. Even before COVID-19 loneliness was a serious public health issue–now it is felt by everyone. Humanity feels increasingly disconnected socially, which is why Fabric sparks conversation among those nearby – whether they’re a familiar face or someone we haven’t met yet. I am proud to be developing an innovative social app that solely focuses on repairing some of the damage social media has done to society thus far.

What role has luck (good luck or bad luck) played in your life and business?
Luck is a funny thing because it doesn’t just happen to you. You have to find it. Some of my path is certainly pure luck: being born in the US to privilege is probably first among that list. But I also have worked to be in the right place at the right time, sharing honestly along the way and meeting people who become friends, colleagues and investors through the journey. Luck is certainly part of it, but more likely, persistence has been the most important thing. I don’t believe in bad luck. Some things are not meant to be, and tragedy does happen all too often (as we are seeing right now) but in our daily lives, we are each responsible for the consequences of our own decisions or indecision.

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