Lalo, A Seattle-based Startup That Specializes In Death Tech Innovation Is The Latest To Be Recognized. An App That Allows You To Collect And Share Stories.

(Lalo Images)

Juan Medina was first thinking about the idea of starting his startup in 2003 after his father’s death. His wife wanted him to share a story about her dad, and Medina discovered he didn’t know him very well. Medina stated that stories, jokes and recipes were lost, or spread among various family members.

Medina’s daughter Medina, now nine years old, said that she had never met her grandparents. This idea came back to life in the past few years. Medina decided to launch his startup Lalo — also his dad’s nickname — with the mission of giving people a private, digital space to connect, share stories and hold on to precious memories.

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Lalo, currently in a private beta stage, is an app which facilitates digital content collection, including images, videos, voice and text. To foster trust and privacy, small groups are kept away from all the noise and pitfalls that can be found on traditional social media sites. Imagine your family gathering together to share the top recipes or images from an undiscovered photo album.

Lalo founder Juan Medina. (Photo courtesy of Juan Medina)

Medina stated, “It’s an area to capture the more important family memories. The Sunday phone call by the grandkids from their grandparents, where they can say, ‘Grandpa tell me about…’.”

Lalo intends to make some money, charging $25 per year for an ad-free subscription. Multiple people can have the same space at that price. Medina stated that the concept is best suited for small groups (10-15 people) and does not consider privacy.

He said, “You are not going to be pinged by your middle school friend like, Hey, sign me up,’”.

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Medina also works to secure the permanent nature of data. This could be done with blockchain solutions or other methods that can archive material over the long-term. Medina views competitors as social media like Facebook, where users trade images and stories, as well as more story-focused options such StoryCorps, NPR or StoryWorth.

This idea is in direct opposition to the current wave of innovation that falls into “death tech”, where startups are reinventing traditional funeral and end-of life practices by incorporating ideas such as body composting, cremation, and casket sales.

Although Lalo users are not required to be focused on the recent loss or imminent death of a family member, Medina believes the app could help in this process.

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Medina worked for Amazon for a good eight years before he decided to start his own company. He was able to learn how quickly and build tech from scratch, as well as work on various other technologies. There was some anxiety when Medina made the decision to quit Amazon and launch Lalo.

“I am married with a child, and we own a house. Medina stated that it was terrifying to give up the steady income I had all my life. It’s amazing. It’s been a joy. It has been great to do what I love and something that I am passionate about.”

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The idea’s long-term viability has been assured by the interest shown by different angel investors and funding provided by Lalo’s original institutional investor. Columbus, Ohio-based VC firm Overlooked Ventures announced earlier this month that Lalo was its first investment, and founding partner Janine Sickmeyer wrote of the startup, “No amount of technology can ease the pain of losing someone you love, but having better ways to grieve can help people cope and stay connected to mourn the loss together.”

Medina did not share the amount of pre-seed financing Lalo received. After Medina’s departure from Amazon, the company was incorporated in 2020. It moved into March.

Lalo currently employs eight people and was among 30 startups selected for Washington Technology Industry Association’s sixth Founder Cohort Program, announced in August. It is expected to be out of beta by early 2022.

Publited Sat, 11 Sep 2021 at 16:21.05 +0000

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Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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