Who wouldn’t like to recapture – and later relive – one’s first kiss, or a fabulous wedding, or one’s baby’s first words, or a parent’s golden anniversary!
Which is why Memtell – a play on Memory Tell – is not just an interesting startup. It is one with the promise of enriching our lives. The startup’s name has built features to help some of us so inclined to capture our lives in myriad ways, and store them to relive the moments in the future.
Co-founder Jonothan Birkett developed the idea from a simple calendar app. He first added a voice message to calendar listings, and then discovered a whole host of other things one could add. And presto, he had fashioned an entirely new thing – whole lots of memories captured in photos, along with voices.
Birkett first tested the Memtell app to capture the memories of his grandfather – a “magical” experience for the team as well as Jono’s mother, who now listens to the memories of her father who passed away recently.
When mentorship was everything
Still, Memtell was sculpted, as it were, at ANZ’s Innovyz START, according to CEO Pushpinder Bagga. At the outset, concedes Bagga, the ANZ program is pretty much the reason why Memtell is in existence. The young startup got $20,000 in the first instance and another $50,000 later in the program but Memtell got something far more valuable – sage advice and mentorship – at the accelerator program.
“Although each mentor played a role in shaping up the product, Dr. Jana Matthews, the program manager at ANZ Innovyz START played a monumental role in guiding us through at each step,” recalls Bagga. “…Jana guided on high-level strategies and tested us on low-level tactical tasks. This ensured us that we stayed focused on the right path and persevered for the end goal at the same time.”
So, what now?
Late last month, Memtell released iOS and Android apps, adding mobility to features unveiled on websites last spring. Bagga says the apps have been built with feedback from users. The early set of Web users found the “product to be innovative but the quality of voice recorded came as a big challenge to us – we then decided to go mobile first and spend over $20,000 building the Android and iOS apps,” said Bagga, who landed the job after bumping into Birkett when on a tour to Australia. Also planned are videos.
Getting down to business
Bagga is a hardened IT professional. He has a degree in electrical engineering and has worked with companies such as Dell and Infosys, besides doing a stint as a photojournalist for India’s largest liquor company.
Memtell is a crucial stage of growth, and Bagga is intent on driving its adoption as much as fashioning a business model. He is adopting a freemium model for Memtell – it remains free but users pay for premium features such as more recording time and photos in one’s memory vault. He is also considering an advertising and merchandise plan.
Bagga is also eyeing partnerships with leading groups that support people with Alzheimer’s, obvious target of a memory product such as Memtell. He said the idea arose from a mentor at ANZ Innovyz, following which Memtell is looking to partner with Alzheimer’s Australia, an organisation with over 400,000 members. Memtell is even planning a clinical trial to establish that Memtell’s innovative approach can “improve the mood and also slow down the memory loss for a person suffering from dementia.”
Bagga’s focus is on a slice of what he believes is a $20 billion annual market in Australia alone. “We are starting with genealogy and Alzheimer’s and then plan evolve into a gifts and online advertising company seeking to capture 5 per cent of this market in 3 years,” he said.