Memloom, a new startup launching today, is looking to find a niche somewhere in between blogging and photo-printing services, like those provided by Shutterfly. The idea is to get consumers not just to share their photos, but tell their stories, through a combination of photos, videos, audio, and text. The resulting creations appear more like magazine-style articles, which can be viewed online, printed at home, or shared to social networks like Facebook or Twitter.
Founded over a year ago, and proudly headquartered in Detroit (“such a great city, and making a comeback,” says founder Alyssa Martina), the company was spun out from ideas discussed at Metro Parent Magazine, also created by Martina. A serial entrepreneur, publishing exec, and journalist herself, Martina is joined by co-founders Alexis Bourkoulas, also of Metro Parent Publishing, and Marie Klopf.
Memloom, explains Martina, came about as an attempt to solve the pain points around sharing the stories behind our photos. “There are many, many opportunities to post pictures online, but there are few ways to capture them and share what they really mean to us,” she explains. “Everybody has a story to tell…stoytelling is woven into the fabric of our lives.” But, Martina adds, as parents and grandparents get older, their stories are dying with them.
Using the Memloom web service, which in two weeks will also ship on iPad, users will be able to easily build customizable stories using a selection of themes and “blocks” (like magazine layouts) that help shape their story. Then, it’s a matter of dragging and dropping in content, writing the text, or recording the audio.
Users can choose how much, or how little work they want to put into their creations. To build a simple story, some of the early 160 beta testers would finish their project in around 10 minutes. Others who found themselves writing stories to accompany the project took around 30 minutes per story instead. You could imagine these used to document your parents’ or grandparents’ tales, wedding slideshows, special moments spent with friends, family events like vacations or births or parties, or other family histories.
The product has been tested among moms primarily, as that’s a customer base Martina can reach best through her magazine. After Memloom launches, she will promote the app through the magazine (where she is no longer day-to-day), as well as in nearly a dozen sister publications in the U.S., and other smaller parenting magazines.
The service will be freemium, with a cap on the number of stories and amount of content you can store before paying for a premium subscription ($3-$10/monthly). Further down the road, the choice to order a “hard copy” in the form of a solid state drive shipped to your home will be available – an option that could help alleviate some of the concern around creating so much important family documentation with a smaller stage startup whose general fate is still unknown.
That being said, the product is interesting to consider because it’s offering a new form of social sharing (stories can be private or public) that’s somewhere in between the online photo album or photo book and the blog. “It’s been really well-received,” says Martina of the early feedback. “People have said there’s nothing like this right now.” Time will tell if Memloom has built a niche that’s wide enough to sustain its business, however.
Memloom is officially launching today, but allowing users in on a staggered basis to scale up slowly. Sign up is here.
The five-person company has so far raised $625,000 in seed funding from angel investors, including David Fry, Rudy Pataro, and angel groups like First Step Fund, but Martina says the goal is to ultimately raise $3 million.