For those who tuned in to the October 29 episode of Shark Tank, a Newton-based company called Qeepsake was featured. Co-Founder and CEO Jeff McNeil had the chance to come face-to-face with Kevin O’Leary and the other sharks to pitch his product, which helps parents remember moments with their children.
Before Qeepsake was shown to this famous group of investors, McNeil was the CEO of a UX design firm called New Spin Digital, and Qeepsake was just an idea McNeil had while talking to his wife about his family.
“My wife and I were lamenting about how we weren’t saving memories with our kids,” the father of five said. “Social media is great, but it doesn’t feel like the right place for every memory that’s important about our kids”
McNeil began creating a basic prototype, mostly to solve his own personal problem, and handed it off to two developers at his firm. The original version of Qeepsake was exclusively used by McNeil, his extended family, and his friends. There was positive word-of-mouth experience with the product, and Qeepsake went from having a small user base to over 3,000 parents using it a few months later.
Qeepsake is a digital baby journal and utilizes a text messaging-based interface where parents can easily capture moments as they’re happening. The entry is then stored in the cloud, and users are able to go back and see them. The goal of Qeepsake is to write the moments when they happen and not have to use old-school parenting materials, such as a paper-based baby book or large photo albums. For example, if a parent gets to witness their child walk for the first time, they are able to type that out and have the date saved to go along with it.
Another aspect found in Qeepsake is its ability to ask questions about life events. With this feature, parents can reminisce about those memories and even add updates to them. Using another typical “proud parent” moment as an example, if the parent wrote about their child struggling with learning how to ride a bike, Qeepsake would ask if they are still learning. In the meantime, if the bike riding has become successful, the parent can answer if they have finally learned it.
His side project slowly became his full-time job. So, McNeil left his company to commit to Qeepsake. McNeil partnered up with Duncan Street, who eventually joined Qeepsake as Co-Founder.
“Duncan and I started working together based on our startup similarities,” said McNeil. “He was instrumental in making growth happen from day one with Qeepsake.”
Qeepsake doesn’t just focus on text-based entries, as parents can upload pictures of their children with assistance from their smartphone cameras.
Currently, the company offers a free level of the product and several paid membership options for parents who want the ability to receive more questions and add more content about their child.
“We were one of only four companies chosen for the Techstars Anywhere pilot program,” said McNeil. “The program is designed for remote teams, or non-traditional teams for which co-locating in an office doesn’t make sense. In my case, when you have five kids, it can be tough to devote 60 hours per week in an office downtown.”
McNeil and his team were able to showcase Qeepsake at the first-ever online Techstars Demo Day as well.
The company was bootstrapped for its first year, but they have begun to receive funding from investors including LaunchCapital and Boston-area angel investors Jere Doyle and Joe Caruso. Today, over 100,000 parents have already begun using the product and Qeepsake has done over $1M in lifetime sales.
It’s comforting to parents to know that technology can help them out with parenting and/or connect with their children. Qeepsake falls right into that category, with its ability to capture the moments when they happen.
“I feel very lucky for the opportunities we’ve had. We’ve really struck a chord with parents and we’re working to broaden the appeal of Qeepsake even further” said McNeil. “I’m also blessed to have this unique perspective as a startup founder and a father of five.”