Between TechCrunch50 and DEMO, this week has seen its fair share of company launches. Start-ups both delay and push forward their launch dates to line up with these events. So essentially we get a month’s worth of new companies all in one week (it will probably take me months to cover all of them).
Among the handful that I got to talk to at TC50 this week was LifeSnapz, a company headed by former ShopLocal CEO Brian Hand. Former ShopLocal CMO Bob Armour also just joined to play the equivalent role. The service is essentially a way to organize your life, events and memories online.
While it has elements of Center’d, it is angled more toward chronicling the past than the present (stay tuned for a Center’d profile). It also has elements of OurStory, but takes it a few steps further with interactive time lines and social elements that tie together a taxonomy of pictures, dates and events. These can all be shared by groups that anyone can start and manage.
This all takes form in a personalized portal with privacy settings for whomever you invite. An interactive photo album cross-links to others’ albums (driven by tags) time lines and events. The idea here is to plot out your life and link to a matrix of historical events in other people’s lives and at the global level.
This gets more interesting when you look at Google’s announcement this week that it will digitize decades of print newspapers for its index. This could add value to what LifeSnapz is doing (i.e., What was on the cover of The New York Times the day I was born?).
Will They Come?
As for using the site, the demo seemed very intuitive, passing the “grandmother test.” It’s a good thing, because grandmothers could make up a portion of its user base.
One challenge it could encounter — like any online tool with social elements — is generating the critical mass of user participation within these groups. This involves tagging photos, people, timelines and events. For those who put in the work, it looks to be a powerful organization tool.
“Our goal is to make it as frictionless as possible,” says Hand. This will eventually involve the ability to import contacts and other information from sources like social networks. E-mail invites and a standard list of other viral marketing tools will also be offered to those who sign up.
Monetization for the free service could come in the form of behaviorally targeted advertising for local event listings, photo services, and other things that tie into the core uses and users of the service (my speculation).
The payday could also come with enterprise applications in which schools, clubs or companies can plot their history, employees and milestones. This beats the non-standardized and cumbersome way that companies of all sizes currently do this on their sites.
There are lots of directions the company could go, which we went over, including a spin-off service that focuses just on timeliness and allows for collaborative creation of time lines. These can be private, folded in with the core service, or public — like a wiki.
These are all on the “road map” but the company is taking it one step at a time and focusing on building a good consumer experience in its very early days (as it often goes).
“We launched less than 24 hours ago,” said Hand, “so you’ll see a lot more stuff roll out over time.”