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Update: Innovator Showdown Winners:

TapGenes Innovator Showdown winner

1st place of $20K in cash and $25K worth of in-kind prizes went to Heather Holmes of Tap Genes. One of the hard questions Heather fielded from the sharks was how she planned to deal with HIPPA requirements. She answered that TapGenes was developed by a team of health care professionals and is fully HIPPA compliant.

Studio Innovator Showdown.

The 2nd place prize of $14K in cash and $15K of in-kind prizes went to Michael Chang of  Studio (by Legacy Republic).  Chang referred to Studio/Legacy Republic’s business model as the “Avon of memory preservation.”

Both the third place prize of $6K in cash and $10K worth of in-kind prizes, as well as the people’s choice prize of $10K went to Paul Brooks of  Twile. Paul scored points with the crowd–and probably also the judges, with his integration with FamilySearch and the fact that Twile already has 1 million stories.

Shark Tank for Family History Innovation: Innovator Showdown at Rootstech

Part of the mission of Rootstech is to attract third party innovation to the pastime of genealogy. Today’s innovator summit served the dual purposes of helping innovators develop new products as well as to introduce recent innovations to the family history market. A big part of that introduction was the Innovator Showdown Semifinals.

Over 50 developers entered the competition for over $100,000 in prizes. The 12 semi-finalists presented their technology to a live audience.  On Friday, the final six compete for the grand prize.

How do the Innovator Showdown judges choose?

I asked FamilySearch’s Paul Nauta what parameters the judges would use. The benefit to genealogy as a hobby? The marketability of the product? Or is it their simple personal preference?

Paula answered that with a ‘yes.’ RootsTech assures all those aspects are considered by the backgrounds of their judges. There are judges from organizations like Family Search who could be expected to look at the value of the innovation to the pastime. Others are venture capitalists who look at things like marketability. They come from different backgrounds and demographics.

When RootsTech attendees get to vote at the showdown, another aspect is taken into account. The value of the app to the attendees personally. Even if you’re not at RootsTech, you can participate online and vote for the product you’d most like to see in the marketplace.

The innovator showdown will be lived streamed at and online visitors can vote via text messages. (Friday, February 5 at 10:30 AM Mountain time.)

The Innovator Showdown Finalists

Ancestor Cloud developed by Wesly Eames is a “marketplace of family discovery.” See Ancestor Cloud’s submission.

JRNL, developed by Nick Jones, is a journaling app, built to “record life’s memorable moments as they happen.” See JRNL’s submission.

Studio (by Legacy Republic), developed by Michael Chang, is a portable album scanner that seeks to solve “America’s billion photo album problem” Read Studio’s submission.

Tap Genes, developed by Heather Holmes, offers “the convenience of keeping all your family health history in one safe and secure place.” Read Tap Genes’ submission.

The History Project, developed by Shanarae Goodwin, believes that “capturing our life stories shouldn’t be as fragmented and overwhelming as it is. Read The History Project’s submission.

Twile, developed by Paul Brooks, not only generates family timelines, but is “a secure place to record and share your family memories.” Read Twile’s submission.

Your Turn

As FamilySearch puts it, you can shape the future of Family History with your vote.” Tune into and vote for your favorite innovation.


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