When Tyrone, 41, can't make his Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, he relies on something else to help him stay sober: text messages. The daily recovery-themed messages from a company called I Live Inspired remind him to "look to my higher power for guidance, and accept life," he says, quoting a recent dispatch. I Live Inspired is the brainchild of Rob Foster, a 28-year-old former cocaine addict from Virginia who came up with the idea after his second rehab stint in 2006. A friend sent him texts about sobriety every morning as Foster traveled to work "feeling crazy." The messages made him feel less alone, so he started forwarding them to others on the mend. Soon a business was born: $3.95 a month for daily bytes of inspiration sent to any cell phone.
So far the start-up has attracted more than 700 subscribers and forged deals to provide nibbles of wisdom from the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa. Users can tailor the service to get a recovery message one day, and pearls from the Dalai Lama the next. Foster is in talks with other self-help icons to expand his offerings, and he recently spent a week camped out in front of Oprah Winfrey's Chicago studios in a bid for support. No luck yet, but Foster is taking it one day at a time.