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Community sharing site shuts down

Updated: January 7, 2013 1:27PM



A Chicago website, Oh So We, designed to encourage neighbors to connect and share with each other, is shutting down on Thursday because resources ran out.

Chuck Templeton, who co-founded the site two years ago and is now managing director of startup accelerator Impact Engine, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

A statement on the website said, “We have . . . come to the difficult realization that we cannot invest the resources to continue to maintain or grow OhSoWe.com in a way that we find acceptable for our users.”

The site is a platform for people to organize events, such as neighborhood block parties, share tools and skills and post announcements such as garage sales.

Templeton, who founded online restaurant-reservation site OpenTable and who serves as board chairman at GrubHub and as a director at IGo car-sharing service and at solar products maker PVPower.com, among other companies, told the Chicago Sun-Times in a recent interview that OhSoWe was “still chugging along.”

The website’s shut-down notice said the venture had seen “tangible progress with neighborhoods in three different countries, and [we] have had incredible conversations with many of you that reaffirm our belief that this continues to be a worthwhile objective.”

Templeton launched the beta version of OhSoWe on his own block — the 1700 block of Fletcher, one block south of Belmont — telling the Sun-Times in May 2011 he did so because he believed so strongly in strengthening community bonds.

“The concept is about making neighborhoods more resilient and self-reliant,” he said in the interview last year. “I don’t know many of my neighbors. I felt that the Internet’s capabilities could accelerate people communicating and sharing resources.”

“One of the goals is saving money or, in socially conscious jargon, promoting collaborative consumption in the mode of Zipcar and Netflix,” he said in the 2011 interview.

Templeton continues to pursue his dream of increasing socially conscious investing by heading Impact Engine, a for-profit accelerator that seeks to support startups that solve major societal and environmental issues such as water shortages or rural poverty. He became executive director eight months ago. The first class of eight entrepreneurs who completed the 12-week program pitched their projects at an “Investor Day” event on Wednesday.

Templeton said in earlier interviews that Impact Engine requires rigorous testing of a would-be startup’s ideas.

“A lot of venture accelerators are focused on technology companies that can test something in three hours,” he said. “Here, the [startup participants[ do field research, make a prototype and take their business plans out into the field.”



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