Every year, for the past few years, at #RootsTech, FamilySearch has sponsored a developer challenge. The participants are startup software development companies that are bringing or attempting to bring new products to the genealogy marketplace. Some of the programs from past years have become standards. After an intense competition this year with $25,000 in prize money available, there are a large number of aspirants.
I have observed that the early contestants were more in the idea stage of development. This year, the competing programs were mostly full-featured and some were already online and functioning. Here is the press release about this year's winner:
SALT LAKE CITY (February 13, 2015) – StoryWorth, a San Francisco start up company that offers an email-based storytelling service, today swept the RootsTech Innovator Showdown, winning both first prize and the People’s Choice award, and claiming a purse of $15,000. RootsTech is a global conference hosted by FamilySearch.
The Innovator Showdown is the first-annual event where entrepreneurs from around the globe presented their web or mobile app on stage in front of a live audience, vying for a total of $25,000 in sponsor-contributed prize money. Each of four finalists presented their ideas in five minutes and responded to questions from a panel of renowned judges. Judges and audience members voted on their favorite product in a Shark Tank-like setting. Darin Adams, former KSL Studio 5 host, served as emcee.
StoryWorth vied for the winning title alongside LucidPress, an intuitive design and layout provider of sleek digital scrapbooking; GenMarketplace, a web app that links those with family history roadblocks to those who can solve them; and ArgusSearch, handwriting recognition technology useful in searching un-indexed digital images of records.
Panel judges included AJ Jacobs, founder of The Global Family Reunion and a New York Times bestselling author; Amy Rees Anderson, managing partner of REES Capital; Curt Witcher, senior manager of The Genealogy Center, Allen County Public Library; Dan Mano, vice president of business development, MyHeritage; and Jay Verkler, advisor and corporate consultant, The Verkler Group.
StoryWorth brings memories to life and facilitates the preservation of memories and personal histories through simple question prompts, emailed directly to users each week. Questions such as “What is some of the best advice your mom ever gave you?” or “Did you ever pull any pranks?” or “How did you meet your wife?” are emailed to users weekly. Users respond via email, and StoryWorth automatically lays out the stories and privately saves them on the site. In time, with minimal effort and using only technology that’s already familiar, users create their personal histories, one story at a time.
“One of the most important things we can do for both the future and the past is to record our memories,” said Nick Baum, founder of StoryWorth. “When we write our stories, and share them with our families, it brings families closer together in the present.”
StoryWorth is highly customizable. There are over 600 engaging questions to choose from, and users can write their own questions. Storytellers can choose to either keep their stories private or invite other family members to receive them by email. There’s a phone option for storytellers who prefer to answer the questions by phone. Stories can be downloaded anytime, as well as printed and bound as books.
“Family history, at its heart, is about stories and connection. It’s about learning to love your ancestors by getting to know them,” said Don Anderson, FamilySearch senior vice president, FamilySearch Partners. “StoryWorth hits all the right notes, helping users ask questions they would otherwise never think to ask, and get answers they’d never expect.”
Innovator Showdown sponsors were MyHeritage, Grow Utah, Hero Partners, Sprint, IPOP Foundation, Utah Technology Council, and STG.
StoryWorth.com is the easiest way to record your family stories. Each week, StoryWorth emails their customers a question about their life. All they have to do is reply with a story, either by email or by phone. Their stories are saved privately on storyworth.com, and immediately emailed to any family members they've invited. StoryWorth is secure, private, and easy to use. Through over 600 unexpected and engaging questions, StoryWorth is bringing families closer together across the country. Sign up for a free 30 day trial at storyworth.com.
FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,600 family history centers in 130 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.