business & professional
Online platform helps families share
Do you recall some sage advice from
your grandfather? Make a Memloom story
about him, and your own children will
tories are the threads in the tap-
benefit from his wisdom even though they
never knew him.
estry of life. But with families so
spread out nowadays, it's some-
Andrew Bank, a digital entrepreneur
in Ann Arbor, recalls coming home one
times hard to share the simple things that
define family life: a baby's first steps, a lost
day last winter after a massive snowstorm,
tooth, a dance recital. You can post a photo when school had been canceled for his
or a video on social media, but then where children, 10, 7 and 3.
does it go?
"There was not a single inch of the yard
To help families make and keep memo-
that hadn't been trampled by kids playing,
ries alive, Detroit-area publisher Alyssa
and there were toys and mittens scattered
Martina and two partners have created a
on the snow:' he said. "It was a day well-
unique digital platform that weaves every-
played, one of those moments that defines
day experiences into keepsake stories.
Bank, a member of Temple Beth Emeth,
Called Memloom (www.memloom.com ),
it combines aspects of a blog, a photo
took some photos and wrote a short essay;
album and social media.
his wife cried when she read it.
Users create stories by choosing a pre-
"I could have told that story to my wife,
designed theme and content blocks that
but then what?" he said. "The photos
will hold text, photos, video or audio,
would go into folders and files, but that
which can be dragged and dropped into
would not capture the emotion of the
place. Text can be written and audio can
be recorded right on the site.
Photos and videos are just "evidence
A Memloom story can be as simple as a
he said. Memloom lets users capture the
recipe, with a short explanation of where
it came from, or as detailed as a photo
Memloom is easier to use than blog
album of a vacation or simchah.
platforms and more complete than photo-
Did your toddler just say something
sharing platforms, said Martina, who
funny? Record it as a Memloom story, per- grew up at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in
haps with a photo taken the same day.
Southfield and lives in Huntington Woods.
be shared in the
Memloom gallery or
with Kayla & Michael
or other social media
sites, or they can be
kept private or shared
go to the
only with a small
group. It's entirely up
to the account holder.
Building a simple
story, with a few pic-
tures and minimal
description, can take
Not a particularly
as little as 10 minutes.
Users who want to
write more text might
take a half-hour or
more to create a
tug.. Lsaua Plow
at least not in June or August But
my youngest Nayla, was looking at
me with all the trade-eyed
enthusiasm she could muster on a
coot gray morning in October.
Examples of stories on Memloom
May 22 • 2014
Memloom partners Marie Klopf, Alexis Bourkoulas and Alyssa Martina
Martina is also the publisher of Metro
Parent magazine in Ferndale, which she
started at her dining room table in 1986,
and BLAC magazine, whose title is an
acronym for black lifestyle, arts and cul-
ture. Alexis Bourkoulas of Huntington
Woods, vice president of the magazine
companies, is also a partner in Memloom.
The third partner is Marie Klopf of Ann
Every Memloom user sets up a free
account, which holds the stories the user
creates and those sent by friends.
"The stories are yours forever; Martina
said. "Memloom doesn't own them; we
just store them. You can take them down
whenever you want:'
At a member's request, the administra-
tors will — for a fee — download all the
material onto a flash drive so it can be
Although her work at the magazines
was fulfilling — Metro Parent's website
was named the best parenting website in
the United States three years in a row by
the Parenting Media Association — a few
years ago Martina started worrying about
the future of print publications and about
"We asked, 'What do moms want?"' she
said. During half-day monthly meetings
over the course of a year, the magazine
staff brainstormed ideas related to the
company's core competence: understand-
ing the parenting market.
Their list of 55 potential ventures was
put through filters to measure desirability,
feasibility and viability. After three months
of research, the development team had
three ideas, which they tested with young
and mid-life parents, their target audience.
"The moms told us there was no one
place to tell their stories:' Martina said.
"They wanted something that was not
just for milestone moments but for every-
day life, an archive where they can keep
memories to pass on to their kids."
Memloom, she said, is "a placeholder for
our past that can drive our future'
Martina and her partners raised
$800,000 from investors, including some
other publishers of parenting publications.
They interviewed 200 parents to gain
insight on the kind of site to create.
"We listened to the parents very careful-
ly. Some liked writing, some liked photos,
some liked oral storytelling," Martina said.
"They didn't like the fact that Facebook
and Instagram own everything posted
Ellyn Davidson of Huntington Woods
has used Memloom to create stories about
her daughter's bat mitzvah, her participa-
tion in the Susan G. Komen three-day walk
and a family ski vacation.
"I love the templated layouts that
make me look like a great designee said
Davidson, managing partner of Brogan
& Partners advertising in Birmingham.
"We live in a visual world with Instagram,
Facebook, and now Twitter adding more
emphasis on visuals. Memloom fits right
in with all of those:'
There's no charge to open a Memloom
account. Martina says the site will sell
advertising and will offer premium ser-
vices, such as enhanced content options,
for a monthly fee. She also hopes com-
panies and organizations will purchase
paid subscriptions to develop their own
Memloom sites where their customers can
Although Memloom hasn't yet done a
major publicity push, the site has more
than 500 members. Some learned about
it from preview articles in techie publica-
tions and websites. Others saw a preview
at Metro Parent's annual Living With
Autism conference in April, co-sponsored
by Henry Ford Health System.
A tablet app for Memloom that includes
a video component was introduced in
May, and a smartphone application is in
Memloom has a technology team of five,
based in Ann Arbor.
"It's been a soft launch so far," said
Martina, who also teaches a course
in entrepreneurship at University of
Michigan's law school. "In a sense we're
still in the 'beta' phase. We're getting feed-
back and introducing new features every