1000Memories Confronts Death by Celebrating Lives

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treat the event the way it’s supposed to be treated, and celebrate the person’s life and provide people with the right set of tools for sharing.”

That’s definitely an unfilled niche on the Web. The “Circle-of-Life.com” concept, which seems like a good one to me, has been out there for the taking ever since Komisar’s book, but nobody has ever really tried to build it. There are obituary sites like Tributes.com and Legacy.com, that are attempting to do to newspaper obits what Craigslist did to classified ads, and there’s even a MySpace-like photo and video site called Respectance that boasts it is “the first to use emo-social media, the combination of rich media with relevant content, to provide an outlet for emotional expression.”

But there really isn’t a site that puts the deceased person first, without a layer of advertisements and offers around the personal stories. “We want the person to dominate the experience,” says Adler. “That’s why we’ve chosen to create a home page with a full-screen photo [of each memorialized loved one]. There’s the ability to share photos and videos, the ability to write stories, and there’s a guest book feature, where you can see who’s contributed…The greater ambition is to provide a place to capture people’s life stories.”

One example is the memorial to John Krettek III, who died of cancer last year at age 28. Created by his sister Danielle Krettek, an employee at Apple, the 1000Memories pages for Krettek include more than 250 photos uploaded by friends and family, as well as personal reminiscences both long and short. (From the sound of things, Krettek was a life-of-the-party type and a wicked-smart programmer.) Another example is the memorial to Eual “Yogi” Adams, a fishing boat captain from Half Moon Bay, CA, who died July 9. Huneycutt says the Yogi Adams pages attracted thousands of views after a link to the site was printed in a newspaper obituary for Adams and on his fishing club’s website.

John Krettek III Foundation page on 1000Memories.comJohn Krettek’s pages include one unique feature of 1000Memories: the “Projects” area. Adler and his co-founders say they wanted to give 1000Memories visitors a way to do more than just share memories, so they built the Projects template to give friends and family members a place to coordinate fundraisers and other activities. Danielle Krettek is using the projects area to collect donations for JK3, the John Krettek III Foundation, which aims to provide Apple iPads to help entertain and nurture patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments. The first hospital to receive the devices will be Missouri Baptist Cancer Center in St. Louis, MO. (To process donations, 1000Memories turned to WePay, another Y Combinator-backed startup that handles online group payments.)

The projects pages “will expand over time,” says Huneycutt. “We’re starting with the simplest set of tools we can offer, to help people collect money and give updates about the project.” In the future, he says, 1000Memories may help users with the legal paperwork to set up non-profit foundations.

Huneycutt, Adler, and Good didn’t start out knowing they were going to build a site honoring lost loved ones. Their story is partly a case of a team of would-be startup co-founders looking for a good idea.

Huneycutt and Adler are longtime friends who went to the same elementary school in Arizona. Much later, they collaborated with a third friend, Victoria Criado, on a 2007 photography book called The Border Film Project; it was a compilation of photos taken along the … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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7 responses to “1000Memories Confronts Death by Celebrating Lives”

  1. For all its apparent uniqueness, 1000Memories is just another online memorial site — a competitor, not a niche-occupier. Some of these sites are mawkish and tacky, others far classier. More than a few have sunk, taking with them many memories. As a consumer advocate in the UK, I have surveyed many over the years. For my money (except that, like 1000Mems, it’s free) the best of them all is MuchLoved.com. Created by a Cambridge graduate, it offers more than 1000Mems, it is beautifully designed and it is protected by a stout ethical code. I’d like to see 1000Mems give MuchLoved a run for its money — the effort will bring out the best in both.

    A major difference between them is that the creator of MuchLoved is not, so far as I am aware, interested in enriching himself through his project; it is a labour of love. But the three bright young things behind 1000Mems need to draw a wage from their wheeze, and it’s not apparent how they intend to do that. There’s the rub.

  2. Lisa Erickson says:

    Although the creator of MuchLoved may not be interested in enriching himself, that’s not to say it bodes well for his site. It’s altuistic, but a labour, like much else involving love, can fade. A profit motive is a sustaining incentive. If and when 1000Memories is capable of making money on their project, they will have every motive to maintain their endeavour.

  3. Very good point, Lisa.

  4. Rich Abermanrich says:

    1000Memories guys are a rare breed: as smart as they are ethical.

    Proud to know them, and excited to watch them build this company.

  5. Pavel says:

    May I source you as a crowd of intellectual people for the following: I am a Russian guy, I live in Russia, and by the age of 45 I have lost my parents. Of course, I have personal reasons to contemprorate my relatives and a desire to help other. Being enterpreneural, I like the idea of 1000Memories. I do not want to make money on the project, but there are expenses and, as Lisa mentioned, incentives issues. What is the solution between not making money on people’s grief and not being totally altruistic?
    PS. I wish this site had spell check.

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