From Illinois Business Journal News Services
EDWARDSVILLE – Bringing people together to share their life stories, entrepreneur and Chief Story Publisher Mike Stith created OneLegacy.com. The new business preserves experiences for the ages while individuals are still around to tell them firsthand.
Stith, 60, an Edwardsville resident, knows well that life sometimes leads you down a different road than the one you may have planned. One of those divergent roads, a road Stith himself has traveled, included the bittersweet experience of caring for loved ones near the end of their lives. In the same month that he was laid off after nearly 30 years as a global call center executive, Stith’s mother and sister became terminally ill. These unexpected challenges came to Stith when he was already functioning as the primary caregiver for his father.
“I was honored to be with my mom and my sister at the end of their lives, and I was privileged to care for my dad, who is still with me,” said Stith. “It was something I didn’t aspire to in my life plan, and yet now realize that my entire career had been preparing me for this next chapter.
“It has been a true journey. When you go through these life-changing moments, it’s the people around you and their real-life stories that shape who you become.”
Stith’s journey made him realize how many untold stories there are, stories best told by those who lived them. To that end, he came to the Illinois Metro East Small Business Development Center with a business concept that keeps these stories alive through OneLegacy.com.
“OneLegacy is a global story-sharing project, a digital publishing platform and an online community of individuals who are interested in reading and sharing stories about personal legacy,” said Stith. “OneLegacy is for each of us. These stories connect us and remind us of the pivotal moments and lessons in our lives. We want to help promote growth and healing through these life stories.”
To help OneLegacy reach its potential, Stith participated in a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. The money will enable OneLegacy to more extensively gather, preserve, write, edit and publish more life stories.
To learn more about OneLegacy and/or contribute to the campaign, go to kickstarter.com/projects.
“There are moments of legacy everywhere we turn,” Stith said. “We’re on a mission to curate and publish one million inspirational stories from around the world – stories that may otherwise be lost.”
Turning to the Illinois Metro East SBDC proved to be a wise path for Stith and his company. Prior to the launch of his website in February 2014, Stith received no-cost business expertise and counseling from SBDC Small Business Specialist Jo Ann Dimaggio May.
“I called upon Jo Ann and the SBDC during my research process,” Stith said. “Jo Ann provided example business plans and an extensive number of contacts. She continues to share expertise with me as we fully develop OneLegacy’s potential. I consider Jo Ann to be an important resource and dear personal friend as well.”
May said assisting Stith – which also included utilizing Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Business students to evaluate OneLegacy’s business model – was both professionally and personally rewarding.
“Mike Stith has worked diligently to create a valuable network of people and resources around him,” May said. “I am privileged to be part of his network and look forward to supporting Mike and his business endeavor.
“It is the human element of life that connects us all. Mike has found a wonderful way to share this connection through story telling. OneLegacy is a true treasure.”