Social networking connects people—for catching up with friends, finding dates, and advancing careers. But what if the connection you need is spiritual? Steve Gatena made an app for that.
Along with his wife and three co-founders, Gatena, 32, created Pray.com to connect faith communities. At Pray.com, prayer is the priority and with more than 30 million “prayers shares,” it is quickly becoming the digital destination for faith.
Indeed, the app enables people to share prayers, access faith content, and give to nonprofit religious organizations. As a result of Pray.com, churches and nonprofit organizations of all faiths are reporting that they are connecting with their congregations at record frequency.
An LA native, Gatena has had many successes: Air Force Academy cadet, champion football player at USC, founder of two acclaimed startups (video-marketing agency REP Interactive and stock-footage supplier VideoFort), and former CEO of aerial surveillance firm Helinet. But when Steve’s former business partner and mentor Alan Purwin died suddenly, Gatena’s life changed direction. Inspiration struck while he was sitting on a couch at Hub101 powered by Cal Lutheran Center of Entrepreneurship; he registered the Pray.com URL on the spot.
We are leaving a legacy of helping others. Every day I focus on growing our reach and impact so we can tackle some of society’s biggest problems
Based in Westlake Village, CA, Steve actually bought the website while working from Westlake Village incubator and California Lutheran University founded HUB101. The company has grown exponentially since its 2017 launch. Helped by $16M in venture capital investments by firms like Science, Greylock, and TPG, Pray.com has helped thousands of faith communities in more than 183 countries worldwide. And it has not only found success with its customers but also with its team members: Pray was named one of the Best Places to Work by the Los Angeles Business Journal and Happiest Organization by TINYPulse. In addition, Gatena was invited to speak at the Vatican for Humanity 2.0 in 2018, alongside then President of the United Nations General Assembly Miroslav Lajčák and a consortium of leaders and luminaries from around the world.
As Pray.com continues to evolve, Gatena is enjoying the learning process. “I begin my day by reminding myself that I am a student,” he says. “I operate with a mindset that somewhere, something is waiting to be known.”
This outlook, and the company’s plans for the future, are inspirational. “We are leaving a legacy of helping others. Every day I focus on growing our reach and impact so we can tackle some of society’s biggest problems,” Gatena says. “I am grateful for the opportunity to pursue this vision, and I am grateful for the team of amazing people I get to learn from every day. It’s a true blessing.”