Everyone has wisdom to impart and a story to share, but most are not able to serve as their own biographers through a blog or vlog. The truth is that, while our knowledge and life’s history might hold a great deal of practical or sentimental value for others, it’s expensive and time-consuming to document it all — and frankly, often at the bottom of the priority list.
Founded in 2015, Pass It Down is a storytelling agency that has developed a multimedia platform to allow anyone from an individual to an entire city collect and share histories. It started when founder Chris Cummings, a former edtech entrepreneur, saw his mother experience early-onset dementia and begin to lose her memories.
While it started with families and senior citizen living homes, they have expanded their product far beyond that. Now, Pass It Down can white label the platform for a city, museum, or park to collect stories from their community in video, audio, text, or photos. The same can be done for companies to create a knowledge bank for future employees, build a strong corporate culture, and enhance performance through shared best practices.
Pass It Down continues to provide their B2C product for families or senior citizen living homes to collect stories and preserve their memories forever. With question prompts to get you started, customizable desktop and mobile layouts, and the ability to connect and share stories with a social component, the platform is a one-stop shop to document those you care about.
The team, now 7 strong, shares more about the power of storytelling, their upcoming funding, and how their Chattanooga roots have helped them grow.
What’s your elevator pitch?
Pass It Down is a storytelling agency that helps families, businesses, and cities around the world collect and preserve their memories and stories. At the heart of our agency is our award-winning digital storytelling platform which helps our clients around the world bring heir history to life.
What problem are you solving?
At Pass It Down, we believe that every person and organization has a “why” and a story behind what they do. The problem is that it can be difficult or expensive to collect and share those “why” moments and stories. Both families and businesses have relied on having to hire an in-person biographer or historian to help them to collect their stories professionally. We took the brain of a biographer, the questions they ask and the methodology behind storytelling, and built a storytelling platform that puts that expertise in every person’s phone, tablet or computer.
For museums, we are one: helping to bring the incredible stories and oral histories to life that they have already collected, and two: revolutionizing how they collect oral histories with our storytelling platform that makes it easy to gather user-generated content.
Please describe the market/industry impact.
The market potential and impact for Pass It Down’s project is huge. Every community around the world has a rich history and stories waiting to be told. These communities already see the value in their history and we are just updating the medium for how these stories are displayed.
How did you come up with this idea?
Chris started Pass It Down after his mom, Barbara, was diagnosed with early on-set dementia at the age of 48. Chris saw first-hand what it was like to see a family member’s memories slip away and the impact it had on his mom and his family. Pass It Down was founded to create a simple and affordable solution for any family to be able to interview a loved one and preserve their memories.
We implement a traditional SAAS model.
Funding or bootstrapped?
Pass It Down raised a friends and family round in 2015, a bridge round in 2017, and we are raising our seed round in 2018.
Have you experienced a product or company pivot?
Like any company, we’ve learned a lot along the way and made several revisions to our model. In the last 12 months, we have expanded our operations to focus on helping communities and organizations collect and preserve their culture and history to great success. As soon as we shifted channels, we started to see solid traction.
Who are your competitors and why do you stand out?
From a corporate history perspective, we really see our competitors as potential resellers. Most of the people in this space are consultants who are working with companies to help them understand the value of culture and storytelling in the workplace, where Pass It Down comes in is as a technology solution for those needs.
How does the Southeast weave into your story?
One, I think there is a huge appreciation in the Southeast for the power of stories. I grew up in the Southeast, listening to my grandparents share their memories about growing up in little country towns and I fell in love with their stories and the culture.
Two, Chattanooga has been incredible to us in helping us start and grow our business. From mentorship, to legal and accounting advice, to the opportunity to build a company next to other incredible companies, we are thankful to be here in the Southeast.
What are your next steps?
We are just keeping our heads down and focused on making sure we have happy clients.
Development by Holly Beilin. Images via Pass It Down