Posted by Gina Potthoff on August 3, 2018
When 19-year-old Genevieve Liu, LAB ’17, talks about her younger brother, Asher, it’s with a smile and a striking sense of respect.
She’s also proud, as evidenced on a recent afternoon while fielding questions, of SLAP’D, the startup she founded at age 13 for teens who have lost a parent. That’s when the siblings suddenly lost their father, who successfully saved two children from drowning in Lake Michigan.
“Do you want to answer this one?” Genevieve asked, giving an encouraging nod to Asher, a 16-year-old junior at the University of Chicago Lab School.
Genevieve headed off to Yale University to study economics and politics last fall, which is when her brother took over as CEO of SLAP’D, which stands for Surviving Life After a Parent Dies. The online platform helps fellow teens who can’t find an outlet for their grief.
“I felt like me and my siblings were the only ones who had lost a parent,” Genevieve said. “We felt totally alone.”
SLAP’D took off as a finalist in the John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC), run by Chicago Booth’s Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The SNVC is the social impact track of the University of Chicago’s nationally ranked accelerator program, the Edward Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge.
Genevieve credits the SNVC and coaches at the Rustandy Center and Polsky Center for giving SLAP’D direction and clear metrics for success. The Polsky Accelerator also set SLAP’D up for longevity, she said.
Asher has plans to grow SLAP’D on a national scale and to establish the website as a gateway for grief resources, not as an alternative to professional help.
Thoughtful and well-spoken, Asher said his goals include recruiting teen contributors for social media and to write focused, timely content, such as a blog about grief during holidays. He’s also reaching out to bereavement centers in an effort to partner and share resources.
SLAP’D has raised more than $60,000 on Indiegogo and seen more than 13,000 unique visitors from around the globe. Genevieve has also helped the site gain exposure by writing blogs for high-profile publications, such as the Huffington Post and Option B.
The siblings say they want to keep SLAP’D in the university family. Their mother, Dr. Dana Suskind, works at the University of Chicago Medicine, as did their father, Dr. Donald Liu. Asher is working out of the Polsky Exchange.
SLAP’D will remain a platform “by teens for teens,” said Asher, who recalls Genevieve working long hours to launch the venture. Now he appreciates why his sister was working so hard on something that’s become important to so many people.
If you’re interested in learning more about SLAP’D, visit the startup’s website.