Founded in 2012, MemoryBanc’s mission is to help people secure their personal information so they can easily locate it, share it or pass it onto loved ones. The flagship product, the MemoryBanc Register, helps individuals and families organize and protect their personal, financial, medical, online and household documents and details. In 2013, MemoryBanc received the AARP Foundation Prize for Older-Adult Focused Innovation. This privately-held company is based in Arlington, VA. For more information, call 703.436.2827 or visit MemoryBanc.com.
MO: How did you come up with the concept for MemoryBanc?
Kay: Out of necessity. I am one of four children and lived closest to my parents. My siblings and I had noticed changes in their behaviors and memory and even approached them together to ask how we could help. Our parents felt they were managing their own needs and shooed us away. Then one day about three years ago, my mom called to ask me how to get money into the bank. That one call was quite a wake-up call. Together, my parents were not managing.
My parents had done the financial and estate planning, but when the durable power-of-attorney they gave me failed to work (most people don’t realize that some banks won’t accept one that is older than 2 years old and these need to be reviewed more regularly by an estate lawyer given the changing state and federal regulations), I worked with parents to set up online access and gather their information as they mail came in or services were being threatened with termination for non-payment. It was a real mess.
I have a family of my own, and adding the management of their personal, financial, medical, online and household accounts and details to my own life was overwhelming. I created an organization system to manage it all. It allowed me to easily pass over the reigns to my siblings when they visited. I had many colleagues and friends in similar situation asked me for copies, so I brought the system to market last year.
MO: Can you talk about the development process from first having the idea and then taking it to market?
Kay: Great question! I initially had a system I created to manage all the components of my parents’ life and looked at the tools that were available but they weren’t comprehensive enough. I met with financial planners, estate lawyers and professional organizers as well as researched what documents and details were needed. I’ve added to the list of items as I’ve worked with clients and faced new issues in supporting my parents.
Two months ago, we found and account of my father’s worth $2,500 in Leavenworth, Kansas. We moved from there in 1969! To claim the money we are required to send a color copy of his driver’s license and a copy of the deed to the home they purchased in 1967. When I come across these issues, I make sure to add them to the toolbox.
What’s been so rewarding is sitting down and learning from my customers about how they use it and how we can continue to help them. This information changes all the time, so we are going to be bringing services to market to help our clients more easily manage it and provide on ongoing programs to reduce having to managing this information in our heads, on our phones, on little cheat sheets under our keyboards, file cabinets and bank boxes.
My background in working in marketing and business development for technology companies has given me great experience in working with a market and helping to develop and define new products and features.
MO: How does MemoryBanc work? Who is your target audience?
Kay: Our flagship product the MemoryBanc Register is an organization system that comes as a book and and electronic PDF to prompt users through the collection of all personal, financial, medical, online and household details. Our follow up services include reminders, coaching and updates to the forms and collection prompts.
When I launched, I was only focused on serving the adult children who were caring for their parents. I was quickly surprised to find that most of our clients were women between 40 – 60 years old and who were buying the system to manage for their own families.
Today, the bulk of the units are sold to service providers who provide the MemoryBanc Register as a component of their services. Financial Planners and Estate lawyers include it as an important collection tool that fills that gaps left around our personal, online, medical and household assets. Realtors give it as a unique house warming gift that keeps their name in from of their clients for decades to come.
Today, anyone with online accounts and assets worth more than $50,000 should be using the MemoryBanc Register.
MO: What’s one marketing strategy that’s worked well for you?
Kay: At the start-up phase when I needed to get out there and find customers and learn what worked I networked like mad – and it was a huge stepping stone to help get the business off the ground. I visited local chambers of commerce, joined more formal networking organizations and used the networks I built to help find initial clients, then build my network of financial and estate professionals who were the first clients to incorporate my products into their service offerings.
MO: I read your blog post about issues related with having Power of Attorney (POA) and was wondering if you could highlight some of them here for our readers?
Kay: My wish would be that the legal profession would bring attention to these issues so more people would get them done! For my family, and we are not alone on this, my parents had done the estate planning and I held a durable power-of-attorney. When I tried to use it, many banks refused to accept it because it was either more than 2 or 5 years old (different banks have different standards). My parents insurance company would ONLY accept the power of attorney that they wrote – which would have been a huge problem had my parent’s dementia been more progressed – they would have been unable to update their power of attorney.
You need to make sure you have someone who has the ability to make decisions for you if you are unable and you need to think beyond your spouse. Who around you do you trust to step in, is able to do it and knows where to find the information they need to make decisions on your behalf? Once the person is incapacitated it is too late to put this tool in place and your only recourse is the legal system and AWFUL!
We now have a 15 page document with simple cover memo’s that we can use for financial, insurance, medical and real estate needs. I am concerned to learn what will happen in 5 years when my parent’s are unable to update their POA and I need to manage for them, so I’m working at making sure I have everything taken care of well before we reach what seems to be the “expiration date”.
Most of the people I work with are in disbelief and don’t know that it’s important to review and update your legal documents over the course of your life and keep your powers of attorney timely. Please meet with someone who only practices Estate Law and who others can recommend to learn more about what you might need.
MO: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?
Kay: The award from the AARP Foundation for “Older-Adult Focused Innovation” gives me an avenue to be able to educate and serve the most people as well as connect with other businesses that can help MemoryBanc solve this problem. The legal and state and federal regulations to help us address the modern world will always lag behind our personal needs. I love being able to address a problem that will twist and turn in the coming years but that will make a huge difference in at least one person’s life every day.
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