Home Feature Pass it Down Helps Cultural Institutions Survive Pandemic

Pass it Down Helps Cultural Institutions Survive Pandemic

by Heather Seelbach

COVID-19 has hit the cultural heritage industry particularly hard. Pass It Down, an award-winning digital exhibit design platform, is helping American cultural institutions withstand the pandemic, one story at a time.

Pass It Down’s Chris Cummings

“Now more than ever, it’s a challenge for organizations to capture visitor attention and engage their visitors,” said Chris Cummings, founder and CEO of Pass It Down. “From the world’s most iconic brands, like Porsche, to large municipalities around the country, to forward-thinking libraries and museums, organizations around the globe are turning to Pass It Down to bring their exhibitions and stories to life.” 

Cummings was inspired to create the company because of his mother’s struggles with early-onset dementia. “I realized when I was asking her questions, I wasn’t going to get much out of her. My mom had really fascinating stories, but those stories hadn’t been passed down,” said Cummings. 

Pass It Down’s original goal was to help families capture and preserve memories. The Chattanooga startup launched in 2016 as a free digital storytelling platform that enabled users to create personal stories through photos, words, and audio and video. Pass It Down then allowed users to export their stories to books and compact discs to purchase them. 

Cummings soon realized that his business model could be expanded to other areas as well. Today, Pass It Down helps companies, cultural institutions, and brands around the world tell their stories. Pass It Down utilizes a cloud-based design platform and touch screen exhibits to deliver state-of-the-art immersive experiences. Since its inception five years ago, Pass it Down has expanded the business model and opened additional offices in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Austin, Texas. 

On October 22, Pass It Down closed on an $860,000 seed round with angel investor firm VentureSouth. The early-stage venture firm comprises more than 300 investors across the Southeast which has invested over $50 million in more than 75 ventures through its network of angel groups and funds.

“We are appreciative of everyone at VentureSouth who believes in our vision to change the way that visitors interact with digital content. This round will be used to expand our software and marketing teams and advance our product roadmap to meet fast-growing customer demand,” said Cummings. 

Pass It Down has created virtual exhibits for multiple Fortune 500 Brands. Other clients include universities, libraries, and sports teams. No matter what the company, Pass it Down’s platform is adaptable, responsively designed, and ADA and WCAG2.1 compliant. 

Matt Dunbar, Co-Founder and Managing Director of VentureSouth, added “We are excited to partner with Chris and Pass it Down to help institutions bring great content to life digitally. The platform they are building is not only a timely solution to engagement challenges brought on by the pandemic, but it is also an enduring new way to drive valuable connections between organizations and audiences.”

Even after achieving global recognition as a leader in the field of digital storytelling and experiential marketing, Pass It Down wants to provide an innovative solution for cultural heritage institutions at an affordable cost with the Jump Start Program. The Jump Start program to help museums and historical societies engage visitors online and encourage them to return for in-person visits in the future. 

The Jump Start Program is a special offer that includes 50% off Pass It Down’s standard pricing, a one-year term, and no start-up fees. It is designed to help institutions transform their archives and collections into interactive online exhibits. To qualify for the Jump Start Program, an organization must be based in the United States. Other eligibility requirements include a total operating budget of less than $750,000, and non-profit status, or similar designation. 

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