Storychest was created by London mother Charlotte McMillan as a way of capturing all the great memories created by her family. Storychest is a private digital memory box for families. You can share your memories privately with family and closest friends. Charlotte lives in London with her husband and three boys, twins aged 13 and a third boy aged 10. Kidsorted met exclusively with Charlotte to get the inside scoop on Storychest, how she came up with the idea and why it's an essential app for you and your family to check out.
Charlotte, how did you come up with the idea for Storychest?
A few years ago, I hit a personal low point when I accidentally deleted the baby photos of our third boy (every parent’s nightmare). I was also grappling with what to do with the piles of stuff a young family accumulates - kids’ artwork and other precious keepsakes, torn between the desire to clear them out and the guilt of ushering out their precious childhoods. I realised that there had to be an easier way to help families to capture and organise their memories. Being an expat, I also wanted to be able to share the best bits with my family abroad, but in a private way that social media did not deliver. I looked around for a solution but nothing quite hit the mark, so I decided to create something to fill the gap.
How did you get started to turn your idea into a business?
I literally started with a blank piece of paper and developed it into wireframes with the help of a talented bunch of app developers, ultimately culminating in the launch of our iPhone app on the App Store.
What features of the app do you like most?
I love the ability to add a narrative around my selection of photos and videos, so that I can remember the details that get lost in the passage of time. I also love being able to scan in those bits and pieces that normally float around the house before ultimately ending up in the bin – programmes from the kids’ school performances, tickets from shows etc. In fact whilst using the app, I realised the small moments and mementoes were as important as the milestones like your child’s first words, first haircut, first painting, the funny things kids come out with. I love the fact that with Storychest you can collaborate and build a story with friends and family, for example at family get-togethers and weddings, it’s great when you add other people’s accounts of the same event you all attended.
I love sharing family stories with my sons, especially about their grandfather (my father who sadly passed away before my children were born), and about my own grandparents who were important figures in my life. I’ve saved and shared anything from family recipes handed down through generations to funny stories of the colourful characters in my family. I’ve found it useful for holidays and have even shared an itinerary of a family trip to Iceland. Over Easter I was in Oz, and shared stories and photos from our holiday with friends with Storychest, one of whom said it was a great way to hear a more intimate account of a memorable trip.
And I love being able to decide exactly who to share each story with, so I don’t feel that I am oversharing. If I want to share more widely, I can email the story or even post it to Facebook or to a Whatsapp group.
Do only parents use Storychest?
Storychest is not just for parents, and can be used by anyone who wants a place to record their memories. My family also uses it to share wider family stories: pictures of my grandparents, family memories which are told around the dinner table, to keep safe from generation to generation. It’s a great way for our boys to connect with their wider family. We feel that sharing weekly stories is a great way for grandparents to feel that they spend more time with their children and their grandchildren, for those of us who live away from our parents.
What has been the toughest part of launching your own business?
I really believe in what we are trying to achieve – providing families a safe place to capture and share great memories, in a private way. That belief keeps me focussed through the inevitable challenges – growing a business from the ground up, spreading our story by word of mouth and growing loyal customers. We also recognise that people tend to use a combination of tools when it came to capturing, saving and sharing their favourite moments. Social media platforms have really shaped our habits in how we share our personal information including photos and videos as Facebook and Instagram have their own appeal to users and may do the job. That said, we are a minnow in the face of huge tech giants who have dominated the social media space for over a decade. We like to think of ourselves as the David facing Goliath! When tech can be accused of dividing families, we see it as a valuable part of modern life, reinforcing family bonds with all the happy memories and stories. Our core values are what drive us and we believe in keeping family ties strong, building communities and using tech as a force for good.
How much does it cost?
Privacy was a driving force behind Storychest. We signed up to the gold standard Azure (Microsoft) to keep our client’s sensitive information as secure as we possibly can. We decided to go for a freemium model, wanting to give our customers a free trial where they can add stories for free (up to 25), and then they can become a subscriber at £2.99 per month. We chose not to advertise and there’s absolutely no sharing of data as for us, it’s a small price to protect one’s privacy which is paramount. We’re conscious of consumer choice and Storychest gives people control of their personal data.
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