With the growing number of social networks out there, users have plenty of ways to share the minutiae of their daily lives. But few are positioned to help them collect and share rich family memories. That could change with the launch of Storytree, which aims to provide a platform for users to share stories with their family and friends.
Storytree, which is launching at the 500 Startups demo day Tuesday, was borne out of founder Matt Sullivan’s time at the Stanford d.school. The project emerged out of his Master’s thesis, which was centered on finding ways for the elderly to share their wealth of rich family stories. In a phone interview, Sullivan said he spent a lot of time at retirement homes, and found there were few tools available that made it easy for them to do so.
Originally the team, which is made up of Sullivan and co-founder Zach Weiner, were thinking about a system that would have family members mailing cheap video cameras to each other and to “hubs” where the videos would be uploaded, put together and made into DVDs that could be shared. But the web and mobile apps offered a cheaper and quicker way for family members to communicate.
With Storytree, users can create private pages, then tell their own stories through pictures, audio and video, which they can then share with friends or family. Or they can ask other members to contribute their own stories by emailing them. The whole system works entirely in the web browser, letting a user record a video memory with a webcam or record audio from his or her computer’s built-in mic. Soon, Storytree will also have an iPhone app, allowing users to record and add to their stories from the mobile phone. The hope is to get users to share stories based on “trigger events,” like a wedding or birth of a child, to share stories.
While the company is still in beta, it’s exploring different revenue models. Sullivan said he was considering a freemium model whereby subscription users would get additional features, like the ability to export to DVD. The company is also looking to make its platform available for larger organizations to aggregate video memories of regular users.
Storytree has received some funding as part of the 500 Startups accelerator program, as well as the program’s Design Fund. The startup has two full-time employees — Sullivan and Weiner — but is looking to raise more money and expand its team.