They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Photos of our loved ones are a sweet reminder of their beautiful lives even long after they are gone. However, don’t we all yearn to listen to their voices for one last time and to remember how blessed we were to have some remarkable memories with them.
Well we come with some amazing news. There is a new app in town called Soal that allows you to preserve the voices of your loved ones. With this app, you can now give a voice to the photos that over time will make great memories to hold onto.
Meet The Co-Founders!
The Soal app was ideated and co-founded by Nathan Brakke along with his two friends Jeff Ludden and Todd Johns.
Nathan is a pediatric anesthesiologist in San Diego, CA. He completed an anesthesiology residency at University of Virginia. Nathan was inspired to create Soal when he returned to his hometown South Dakota for his grandfather’s 90th birthday in September 2013. At that birthday party, all family members in attendance were given USB drives the contained an audio interview with their grandparents telling their life story.
Jeff is a senior software engineer at Shazam! Entertainment. Nathan met him in 2010 through the University of Virginia young alumni club in San Diego. Jeff was the first person he pitched the Soal concept to in November 2013.
Todd is a Senior Director of Pricing and Product Strategy at Salesforce.com. He attended the University of Minnesota with Nathan in the late 1990s. Todd was the second person Nathan approached with the Soal concept in December 2013.
Know the Soal App Better!
If seeing is believing, then hearing is remembering and Soal embodies just this feeling. This app is about creating the world’s first voice archive and preserving the voices of your loved ones forever. We all have a voice but it changes, and fades, and then someday it’s gone forever. When Nathan first listened to that audio interview with his grandparents he realized how awesome and how priceless it was.
“I don’t have kids yet but someday I’d like them to hear their great-grandparents’ stories in their own words. A buddy of mine, Pat, lost his mom to breast cancer about ten years ago. Last spring he said, “Nate, sometimes I can’t even remember what her voice sounded like.”, adds Nathan.
This app is giving users a beautiful chance to remember their loved ones forever. Prior to Soal, there was no easy way to collect and catalog the voices of friends and family. “Voice memos” are not well organized whereas voicemail recordings have poor quality and are inconvenient. There was also not an easy way to HEAR the story behind photos. Soal apart from preserving voices of the people you love has also given”selfies” the ability to speak.
The Driving Force!
It all started at Nathan’s grandfather’s 90th birthday party in South Dakota. During the celebration everyone were given USB drives that contained an audio interview of his grandparents telling their life story. This to him was priceless.
Nathan first thought of starting a business was to hire interviewers that could show up at clients’ grandparents’ or parents’ house and record interviews for them. He quickly realized that it wasn’t a great business model. Then he got to thinking how all smartphones have a voice recorder and how easy it is to record an interview yourself. This spawned his “audio ancestry” theme.
He further toyed around with the idea to include other ways to capture, catalog, and carry important voices and audio memories. The “messages” theme in the app helps users send a “Happy Birthday” or “Thank You” that always sounds better when spoken versus typed or texted. The “music momentos” theme is to tag a specific song to a specific event or day in your life. “Kids chronicles” help parents track the voices of their kids as they grow. “Guestbooks” save the excited voices of your party guests. The journal is self-explanatory.
On Challenges Faced & Competitors
“I am neither a serial entrepreneur nor a software engineer. I am a pediatric anesthesiologist so am surrounded by nurses, physicians, and children all day. I have a very limited amount of contacts in this “space.” I reached out to Jeff Ludden and Todd Johns early on to get help. One of the best ways to stay out of trouble in anesthesiology is to call for help early. I also don’t live in Silicon Valley, which is a disadvantage. San Diego, though, is becoming a bit bigger start-up ecosystem, though most start-ups here are in the biotech industry”, says Nathan on the challenges faced by him.
In terms of competition, Evernote could be considered a potential competitor but they focus more on written notes. They do have voice recording capability but it is not nearly as well designed as Soal.
Apple’s “Voice Memos” records voices. However, it is poorly organized. Voice Memos also does not have the ability to post on Facebook or Twitter. A recent Apple commercial showed a granddaughter recording a duet by using an old recording of her grandmother singing. This concept is similar to what Soal is doing. Both Apple and Evernote also have a huge following and huge budget so they could easily pursue the voice archive space.
In addition, Soundcloud could be considered a competitor but it focuses more on music sharing. Also, Voxer, WhatsApp and iMessages all do voice messaging but the messages are not archived as neatly as Soal and a photo cannot be attached.
On Expansion Plans & Targeted Audience
“In January 2015, we will be releasing a new version that will allow direct “Soal2Soal” sharing and cloud storage (in addition to local device storage). The direct messaging feature should increase our user base and engagement rates as more people share “Happy Birthdays” and “selfie speak” and other audio memories. In other words, it will be easier and more fun to fill your Soal. We hope to then add some search features and progress toward web and Android versions. The holy grail for us would be voicemail import and storage to your Soal timeline”, says Nathan.
When it comes down to target audience, it includes, sentimental smartphone users who are parents with growing kids, kids with aging parents, and anyone who would rather hear someone’s voice instead of reading their text. Nevertheless, Soal has something for everyone.
On Plans of Monetizing
Nathan is looking to monetize by implementing Freemium or subscription model similar to Evernote with a monthly or yearly fee for storage beyond a certain GB.
“Our product, remarkably increases in value over time, just like the value of memories. We may also charge for premium features such as extended recording times and voicemail storage”, adds Nathan.
To sum it all up, Soal gives you a beautiful opportunity to move past just photographs and albums. This app allows you to record your life’s story that can be stored forever.
For more information on this awesome app, do make it a point to visit: mysoal.com
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