Have you ever wished that you had recorded the memories of your life or your parent’s life? Have you ever wished that you could hear your relatives tell you, in their own words and their own voices, what their lives were like? The ability to make this wish a reality is the essence of the newly formed company, Saving Memories Forever. Using the social networking power of the Internet, the recording capability of the Smartphone and a unique set of questions, Saving Memories Forever makes it easy for anyone to record family memories and share them with others. Saving Memories Forever brings families together by recording and sharing the little stories that make up a rich and fulfilling life.
MO: What inspired to you to launch, Saving Memories Forever? How has your background and experience helped contribute to the development and vision of the company?
Harvey: About 25 years ago my wife and I decided to research our family history. We traced our ancestors and found, as best we could, the traditional family tree information, the names, relationships, dates and places of birth and death and names of children. Armed with this information we commissioned an artist to produce a family tree that we now have hanging in our living room. Almost immediately after the tree was completed, we realized that even with all the work we had done, we really knew very little about our relative’s lives and that was what we really wanted to know. At the time there was no technology that could help us so the idea of creating a more encompassing family history waited until Smartphones came along. A Smartphone can record stories and save them. We developed a simple Smartphone App for both Apple and Android devices that allows a person to quickly and easily record the stories of their life and share them with their families. Now with Saving Memories Forever you can use your Smartphone to record your stories wherever you are, automatically upload them to the website and share them. We finally know the stories behind the names and dates for our living relatives and, by creating a “virtual” relative we know some of the stories about the relatives no longer with us.
I have always been very interested in finding new ways to use technology. I have an electrical engineering degree and an MBA. I worked in many different technology companies. In each I found ways to use the latest innovations to improve products and/or services. Saving Memories Forever combines my interest in family history and my interest in technology to produce a unique service.
We believe that family history is valuable. Knowing where you came from and your relative’s name is only the start. Knowing something about their lives gives much more depth to your understanding of who you are. Hearing them tell the stories of their life and being able to play these stories back to your children and their children is priceless. Our world wide mobile society has moved our extended family away from us and we know very little about the people we only see once in a while. Saving Memories Forever provides a service that allows anyone in the world to record stories in their own language. Saving Memories Forever helps families stay connected and, by doing this, makes families stronger.
MO: Can you talk our readers though how the recording process works?
Harvey: The process is easy. You register once either on the Smartphone or on the website using your e-mail address and a password of you’re choosing. Then you are ready to record your stories. The easiest way to record is using a Smartphone. After downloading the free App from either the iTunes or Google Play Store (under Saving Memories Forever) you launch the application and select your story teller. A screen comes up with timeframes, like childhood or teenage years. You select a timeframe and series of questions comes up. Clicking on the question starts you on the record screen. Once you press record you can tell your story. Press the stop button and you can listen to it or upload it. That’s all there is to recording your story. There are many other features on both the website and the Smartphone App but that gets you started. Let me mention two features here. The first is that you can upload audio files directly from your computer. You may have recordings that are on tape or other media. Converting them to digital is easy and storing them on Saving Memories Forever makes them permanent and sharable. The second is that you can attach pictures and text files to each story. If you are on a trip you can take a little time at the end of each day and record what you did and maybe attach a couple of pictures. What a great way to tell people what you are up to and to save the trip information for generations.
MO: What tips would you offer to someone interested in recording their personal history to share with others?
Harvey: The Smartphone Application leads you through the process of creating a complete audio biography. The tips are simple. The first is to record in a quiet environment. Noise is distracting and will significantly affect the” listenability”. The second is counter intuitive, be prepared but not too prepared. Think about what you are saying but don’t write it down and read it. Part of the fun of hearing a person tell a story is their enthusiasm and joy. Don’t worry if you pause or get lost and have to back up. If it really is bad you can re-record it before you upload it to the site and no one will be the wiser. Your family wants to hear the real you. Show them your joy and passion. The third tip is to keep each story short. We suggest no more than five minutes for each recording. You can record unlimited stories using any question. You don’t need to tell your life story in one sitting. Tell it over time. Add to it when you can. The last tip is to have fun with it. Tell the little stories that you think are funny or interesting. Don’t try to just record the significant stories of the day. The things we want to know about our family is where they worked, who their friends are, how they lived and even what they had for dinner.
MO: What’s one marketing strategy that has worked well for you so far?
Harvey: We have been working with several marketing strategies in our five markets, genealogy, reunions, parenting, seniors and military. Each one of these markets has different demographics and different strategies. So far the strategy that has worked the best is blogging in the parenting market. We have been able to engage with several bloggers and they have been doing reviews for us that are on their websites. This approach works at several levels. The first is that the bloggers are aware of and using our service. Second the review that they post is read by their blog subscribers and third is we are able to use the reviews for other markets. This is a model for all of our marketing strategies. We develop a relationship and a work product. We leverage it so it can be used across all our markets through social media, websites, print other traditional media. In this case the review is posted on the bloggers website and links are posted on our website, twitter feed and Facebook page.
MO: I enjoyed reading how members of the military can record bed time stories or leave messages for spouses and loved ones free of charge. What inspired you to add this option free of charge and what kind of feedback have you been receiving so far?
Harvey: Sometimes in business you ignore the profit side and realize that doing a good thing helps your business grow. After we had developed the system we realized there were many additional uses. With so many of our young men and women serving overseas and putting themselves in harm’s way for us we wanted to see if there was a way for us to help them. We have friends who have a serviceman in Afghanistan. He has a six year old at home and every other week he has a video call with her using Skype. We thought it would be nice if the communication could be more often. We investigated how many service people had Smartphones and the availability of Internet connections and came up with a way for a service person to record a story for their child and have the spouse back in the US play it at bedtime. Because you do not have to have an Internet connection to record, a service person can record a story anywhere. Then, when they are in range of the Internet, they can automatically upload the story. We also realized that this time shifting of audio would work with other communications so military families could be in better touch. We decided to offer our premium service free of charge as a thank you for their service and an acknowledgement of how important and difficult their job is.
We are in the process of getting the word out. We have been covered in two base newspapers and are expecting excellent results.
MO: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?
Harvey: We have just launch a crowd funding project on Indiegogo (www.indiegogo.com/saving-memories-forever) where we are looking for people to contribute to a project that will allow us to develop an Android tablet version of our App. This will complement the Apple and Android phone Apps that are already out. With the popularity of tablets and the shrinking of their physical size, we feel that tablets will provide a significant growth opportunity for our system. This is exciting because it is not just a fund raising tool. It is also a way to present our service to the worldwide market that Indiegogo reaches.
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