March 22, 2016

Mylestoned Pays Tribute to Deceased with Online Memory Collections

A friend of mine, Emily, passed away last spring after battling illness for many years. She was young - in her mid-20s - and in the days and weeks following her death, I saw hundreds of people flock to her Facebook page. Her wall became a virtual memorial, with friends sharing everything - stories, photos, screenshots of old text messages, condolences to her family, you name it - on Emily’s wall to pay tribute.

Grief is undoubtedly a universal concept, but the way we deal with it is individually unique. So while Facebook’s public forum worked as an effective outlet for some people to remember Emily and navigate their grief, it also opened a door to commentary and interactions that many weren’t looking to engage in.

Considering just how different grief is for everyone, Facebook and other social networks aren’t the ideal outlet for memorializing a loved one - primarily because there’s little control over what pops up on our newsfeeds. It’s Facebook’s policy to memorialize accounts for the deceased, removing the profile from “public spaces” like People You May Know or birthday alerts, should the platform become aware of an individual’s passing. This doesn’t always happen, though. Such is the case with Emily’s profile - so when her birthday cropped up earlier this month, all 1,200 of her friends received a notification suggesting they go wish her a happy one.

Modernizing Memorials

But up until yesterday, few options beyond Facebook existed for memorializing loved ones online.

That’s why David Balter created Mylestoned, the serial entrepreneur’s latest startup that lets users share and view collections of memories about deceased individuals. Mylestoned has secured $1.5M in seed funding from Founder Collective, Boston Seed Capital, Converge, and notable angel investors. It was unveiled yesterday.

“When someone passes, friends and acquaintances search for ways to support spouses, parents and children,” said Balter. “Mylestoned provides the gift of collective memories. The stories and actions that made the deceased who they were.”

Balter aims to pull grieving out of Facebook and other social sites and onto the Mylestoned platform, which is currently in beta. Users can engage with it by submitting a text to a bot, which then prompts them to share a memory of an individual. (When I texted in, I was asked to share a memory of Leonard Nimroy.)

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The bot then sends the user a link, giving them access to a repository of memories about the individual. New memories can be added at any time. In the future, Mylestoned plans to use relevant locations, dates, or events to trigger a sort of memory recall.

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“Think of it like a dynamic tapestry of memories,” Balter said when I asked if the memories would be compiled into a social network-style news feed. “It will constantly update and evolve through both our technology and as people add to it.”

The inspiration behind Mylestoned is practical: the culture around death is changing. Religious views are evolving, taboos around the subject are fading, and few people visit their deceased loved ones in a graveyard anymore.

It extends beyond just that though, and Balter shared one example with me that really helped the concept click.

“The husband of a woman we know very well recently passed away at a young age” he said. “She set out writing letters to all of his friends, trying to get them to provide stories so their 2-year-old would know who their father was. We make this possible at scale”

See how Mylestoned works for yourself. Visit the site to learn how to share your memories of David Bowie or Harper Lee.


Kaite Rosa is Director of Content & Marketing at VentureFizz. Follow her on Twitter: @KaiteRosa