This NYC Startup Just Raised $5.5M to Create a Visual Diary of Your Life



140 characters are one thing, but as we know, a picture says it all. Memoir is a smart phone application that allows users to share photos with their friends – and transforms your photos, the places you go, and your social media into memories and a timeline that can be relived whenever the spirit moves you. With so many pictures and videos being taken these days, let’s face it: these visuals are the story of your life.

But that’s not all: as soon as you request them, the photos your friends choose to share with you become part of your Memoir stream, seamlessly. You can find memories and photos by people, places, dates, context, and more – no tagging or organization required. Memoir discovers photos and memories wherever they were created – iPhone cameras, DSLR’s, Instagram, Facebook, Foursquare – even on your computer – then backs them up securely to the cloud.

It’s a timeline of your life in pictures, and some day you’ll look back at them and realize that it’s your personal memoir that words just can’t describe.

Cofounder and CEO Lee Hoffman shares his vision with us.

Tell us about this round of funding.

We raised a $5.5M Series A round led by Redpoint Ventures and partner Ryan Sarver. Lerer Ventures, Thrive Capital, Betaworks, Box Group, and Joel Spolsky, amongst others, also participated.

Tell us about your product.

Memoir collects all of your photos, videos and location data and turns them intomemories that can be played back contextually. Using adaptive learning algorithms,

Memoir then figures out which of your friends were involved in each of your memories and makes it as simple as one click to request their photos, or share yours with just those people.

Lee Hoffman

Lee Hoffman

What market you are targeting and how big is it?

We’re at this unique time where the number of photos, videos, and other content we are capturing is growing exponentially and virtually everyone now has years of data.

And yet most of this data once it is captured is never looked at or used again. What we figured out is that the key to unlocking this value is understanding context to surface those memories at the right time when you see a person, visit a place, do an activity, or something happened x years ago this second. And Memoir makes it frictionless to collaborate on and share that memory with just the right people.

Memoir’s user base consists of anyone that takes and has photos. There are significant pockets of activity particularly amongst parents and teens.

Aren’t there other ways that already exist to share memories?

The vast majority of photos we take involve other people. And yet the bulk of those are never shared. What Memoir does is it gives a context for sharing these memories and radically reduces the friction of doing so.

How is this different from other photo sharing networks?

Photo sharing via Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat….They are all about connecting with people you aren’t actually with. “Look at this funny thing I saw when we weren’t together.” “Look how cool I am at this concert you’re not at.” But there is a whole other type of sharing experience these have never addressed – sharing with people you are actively spending time with. And Memoir has built this amazing ad hoc network based on the individual people and groups you are actually with. If you and I met at a dinner 4 years ago today, my 220 other friends on Facebook probably could care less. But if I send YOU those photos 4 years later, they mean a tremendous amount to you and me. Memoir is about reliving and sharing memories between just the right people.

How is this different from some other products that surface memories?

The real value of memories is in piecing them together and sharing them with the people who matter most. Memoir makes memories collaborative and social – this is the real value of memories.

What’s your business model? 

Memories are a very private thing, and we think a lot about that in the context of how we will eventually monetize Memoir. While we are narrowly focused on the free experience right now, we have had a lot of user request some features that we eventually plan to offer in a premium service.

What led to your going out and raising this round? 

While we don’t typically release numbers publicly, over the last year we’ve had consistently astronomical engagement and retention rates (greater than 35% of our registered users ever are active on a given month). This, combined with a compelling vision around the augmentation of human memory in a social way, were primary factors in our decision to raise our next round (and Redpoint’s decision to fund us).

What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?

It took us years to get to where we are now, and the only reason we were able to do so was that we kept our burn low enough to give us time to figure out all the variables.

Keep your burn low, and iterate as fast as possible, which becomes even more important when you don’t have funding.

Where do you see the company going now over the near term?

If you look at the numbers, the amount of photos and data we are each capturing is growing exponentially. And if you plot it out, you can actually forecast that in the not too distant future we’re going to be able to record and capture most of our lives (Why You – And Everyone Else – May Soon Be Taking 15 Photos Per Hour) And if you think about what your human memory actually does you walk past a building and vaguely remember that you were there 3.5 years ago. With memoir, you’ll walk past that building and it will immediately bring up the memory. And just like in Harry Potter, if you want, you’ll be able to jump into the memory and not only be able to see it from your perspective, but since your friends were there capturing it, too, you’ll see it from all of their perspectives, too. And more importantly you’ll be able to immediately relive that memory with them in real time. This is the first step towards collaborative augmented human memory. We are very narrowly focused on realizing this vision in the short and long term.

What’s your idea of a picture-perfect spot in or around NYC to go to relax on a weekend?

Robert F. Wagner, Jr Park



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