In this conversation, Cathi Nelson brings the spotlight to women in tech who are involved in the memory-keeping industry.
Let’s meet six women who decided to solve a problem through technology. They are all from different backgrounds, and different businesses but came together for this online event to celebrate women in tech and the solutions they are creating for their clients.
Heather Nickerson, Artifcts
Tell us about yourself!
My story began about six years ago when my mother passed away completely unexpectedly out of the blue. I was the eldest and only girl so my brothers kind of turned to me. My mother left behind about 6000 square feet of stuff. And it’s never easy, but with an estate plan and a will, who gets the physical objects is actually the easy part. The really hard part was the stories. What we all want, and will be all missed are the stories. And my mother was the family keeper, so we had no clue looking at an old photo, like who was this? Two generations removed, we didn’t know, which is really scary when you think of that. And we wanted to keep the things that would matter.
So our problem was, there was so much stuff, but no easy way to connect the story with the stuff. So we started Artifcts, which is a way to preserve the history, the memories, and the stories behind all of our stuff. Everything from old photos to family heirlooms, even that giant thing of kid art you may have hidden under the bed, you can Artifct it and either choose to keep it and pass it down for generations, or you can choose to donate, re-home, and sell guilt-free knowing you’ve preserved that memory and that story.
What has been the hardest part of your journey so far?
The hardest part is probably just getting the word out there. We’re two years young, we’ve done a lot in two years. We’re part of the AARP innovation labs accelerator program, we graduated that so we’re part of the Age Tech Collaborative now. So that’s been a great avenue for getting the word out. Being partnered with The Photo Managers and other professional organizations has also been really helpful. But it’s tough, because as a startup, we put all of our money into tech. And we have a very teeny tiny budget for marketing. And then given our privacy background, we don’t do the social media marketing that a lot of other firms will do. We don’t like how that data is treated, you have no control over that. So we put privacy and security first. So we tried to do in-person events, webinars like this, but it makes it so much harder. Because you can only really reach out and talk with so many people at any given moment. So the hardest part is getting the word out there. So we really appreciate this.
What has been the most satisfying part of your journey so far?
The most satisfying part is when we hear stories from members who reach out to us being like, “oh my gosh, you have helped my family” and they give us a reason how or why or just hearing people preserve the stories, knowing that the next generation is going to have that story. That’s really meaningful, even in our own homes, like my daughter, knowing that she knows not only my story, but my grandmother’s story. For example, my mom’s old vintage 1970s cookie cutters. I’ve Artifct’d them, the story is there, my daughter knows the story. What’s even better is if my husband or I forgets the story, I’ve got my little QR code that goes to cookie cutters. If something happens to me one day, he’s not gonna toss those cookie cutters into goodwill, my daughter knows to claim them first. So it’s stuff like that when you hear from people who’ve actually are using the product and you’re making a difference in their lives. That’s really touching and really humbling. And it makes us just feel so good as entrepreneurs that you have solved a problem that others have too.
What advice would you give to others who have a business idea?
If you have an idea, try it. Try the most minimal viable product, try the simplest form of it. We launched beta back in May 2021. And we were overwhelmed by the positive reception. We thought maybe it would take us a year to get to market after that. But our beta users were just like, “When can I get this to friends and family?” So if you try it and you persevere, and you’ve got a really awesome network around you, I’m a big, big believer in anything’s possible you put your mind to, and a lot of really hard work and just do it. Hitting the ground running. So don’t give up on your idea. It took me five years to bring this to market, but I’m really glad I did. So it’s definitely worth it.