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Innovation & Job News

D.C. startup helps people memorialize loved ones

Asi Ohana and Richard Green, the pair that seven years ago launched budget bus service DC2NY, which recently rebranded as  BestBus, have a new venture. In October, they launched Memories.com, a website for preserving stories and photos of a loved one or friend who has passed on, and it already has more than 7,000 users. The site, which was founded in D.C. by Green and Ohana and in Israel by Meir Ohana, is free to use for now, contains no advertising and is designed to be a permanent, online repository for photos, videos and stories for family and friends in distant locations to share.

"My mother said that really, you die twice," explains Asi Ohana. "Once when you die physically and once when people forget about you." Ohana doesn't want anyone to have to die a second time.

Users create an interactive album on Memories.com, uploading photos and videos and documenting stories about a loved one. They can then invite family, friends and colleagues to share and contribute to the album, creating "an ongoing, living history and celebration of a person's life," says Green.

It sounds a lot like Facebook, which will memorialize a deceased user's account on request, but Ohana says Memories.com offers some advantages.

"Facebook is about me eating hamburgers," Ohana says. "People want a different place to go and think about their loved ones."

Similarly, Ohana doesn't think a loved one's Facebook page is necessarily the right place for a memorial tribute. Privacy concerns and page curation issues aside, "posts are buried—it can take forever to scroll through two hundred messages and find a picture, for example" he says. Plus, the albums on Memories.com also allow users to take control of privacy settings and are ad-free. "I don't want advertising on a site about my loved ones."

The site is integrated with Facebook only for the ease of inviting users to view and contribute to albums, rather than having to create email lists of people to invite. 

In the future, Memories.com may roll out different features and premium services, with a cost associated. One such feature currently in discussion is "My Life Journey," where an individual can record his or her own life story to share with later generations.

Right now, the company is focused on getting users on the site and keeping the site itself "as elegant and unobtrusive as possible," says Green. 

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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