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Fampus founder explores venture that streams events to hospital patients

In August 2008, Des Moines native and University of Wisconsin-Madison freshman Brittany Brody founded Fampus, an event-based social platform for college campuses.

It quickly took off at 10 colleges around the Midwest, including Grand View University, Drake University, Simpson College, Kirkwood Community College, Des Moines Area Community College, Iowa State University, University of Iowa, University of Nebraska at Lincoln, University of Indiana and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Brody graduated soon after with a degree in journalism, focusing on strategic communication and public relations, and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in agency work. But she quickly realized that her passion was in community and events.

So last summer she returned to the Midwest to refocus her career.

Fampus was still up and running, but Brody had a new venture in mind as well: a nonprofit that live streams community events to hospital-bound patients, which she called Coming to You Live (CTYL).

“I’m really proud of Fampus, and I think it’s an extremely viable product,” Brody said. “Right now we’re re-imagining its future, so in the meantime I took all the lessons I learned about events and put them in my toolbox to use with CTYL.”

While the Fampus site is currently inactive, Brody says she’s still working on the startup in some capacity. 

Whereas Fampus aims to bring more consolidated events information to college students, CTYL bridges the gap between community events and patients in hospitals, bringing the former to people who otherwise couldn’t attend. Brody believes that when patients feel like they can be a part of what’s happening in their community, their hospital experience is more positive, contributing to better overall well-being.

“The more I figured out details, the more I learned, and the more I got excited,” Brody (right) said. “I asked friends and family, ‘Do you think this is something the community needs?’ And it seemed like the answer was yes.”

Now CTYL is comprised of Brody, seven board members and a team of about 25 volunteers. Two of the board members remain involved with Fampus—the startup’s VP of operations Brad Goldman and Brody’s father, Brad Brody.

“Everyone brings something different to the table,” Brody said of the board. “I’m on the phone at least once a day with them, and we all have so much passion for this project.”

CTYL is still in the process of planning its first live stream event, and Brody says they plan to start small—with something like a local high school play—in order to figure out how to potentially scale the organization. They also want to measure the effectiveness of something like CTYL by collecting patient, venue and administrative feedback.

One challenge is that CTYL must get permission from everyone involved for each live stream event: the venue, the performers, the content creator, the hospitals and so on.

CTYL has to ensure all content is age appropriate for any patients and work with the hospitals to figure out potential technology and security issues. CTYL also realized some venues were protective of their events and concerned about any type of recording—though Brody said there will be no actual recording, only live streaming.

Dealing with all the legalities of live streaming events also has proved to be a difficult, lengthy process.

“We were afraid that legal fees would cripple us, that we’d have to pay a few hundred dollars every time we had a question,” Brody said. “We reached out to Drake Legal Clinic, which was a huge help.” The clinic is pro bono, so CTYL is able to get free legal advice that’s been essential to the nonprofit’s launch.

Brody found another resource in the Iowa High School Sports Network, whose announcers sat down with the CTYL team to explain live streaming tactics and best practices.

Currently, the nonprofit’s tax exemption status is pending, though Brody has long since filed the necessary paperwork. The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines serves as a fiscal sponsor for the time being so that donors to CTYL can receive tax exemptions for their contributions. Although CTYL is entirely run on donations, Brody is working to set up some seed funding efforts and seeks a presenting sponsor.

“We already have so much support. I have yet to have a door slammed in my face,” Brody said. “With CTYL, the whole community is our cheerleading team because everyone has either spent time in the hospital or had a loved one there and can relate to our mission.

“Because of CTYL and Fampus, I’m excited to get out of bed every morning and work. Not everyone is lucky enough to say that.”


Credits: Photos courtesy of Brittany Brody. 

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