One of the first companies that joined Dotforge accelerator had a great year.
Twile partnered with leading genealogy site Findmypast, won two innovation awards at RootsTech 2016, including People’s Choice and just announced the launch of their new feature that integrates with FamilySearch.org. They have been selected for the next round of Pitch@Palace, have a project with a local primary school that incorporated Twile into the curriculum and have been selected as part of a cohort of companies chosen to visit the US to help raise the profile of the tech industry in the North of England.
We asked Paul Brooks, cofounder of Twile to share his entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us something about Twile.
Twile is a timeline of everything that’s ever happened in your family, from your earliest ancestor right through to today
How did you get here?
We launched Twile during Dotforge in 2013 as a tool for parents to record their young children growing up and share photos privately with the rest of the family. After 2 years of trying to compete with big players like Microsoft, Dropbox and Google, we identified a new opportunity in the family history space and pivoted to take advantage of it. We developed Twile into a visual timeline that family historians can use to make their research more engaging and easier to share with the rest of the family. We have since secured investment with Findmypast (#2 in family history), won 2 innovation awards at RootsTech (the biggest family history event) and we’re about to launch a big integration with FamilySearch (a huge not-for-profit in the industry).
What is your inspiration for creating your company?
Twile has always been about preserving memories – getting people to record what they know about their family, past and present, to ensure that knowledge isn’t lost through the generations. We are all parents with young children and we’re keen to ensure our kids know who their ancestors were, what their parents were like and what they were like when they were younger.
What have been your biggest challenges as a Tech Startup?
Raising investment has been a consistent, ongoing challenge. We’ve always tried to raise just enough money to survive long enough to prove the model, which means we’ve had to raise 3-4 rounds of seed investment over the last 3 years. Trying to get in front of investors that are interested in a B2C business with no revenue in the genealogy industry is particularly difficult! Generating growth has also been difficult, but now that we’ve achieved product-market fit in the family history space, we’re gaining organic traffic through word-of-mouth and great press. The strategic partnerships we’ve worked hard to secure are beginning to pay dividends and should move the needle substantially in the next year.
What is your biggest learning from Dotforge?
1. Investment takes a lot longer than you think it will
2. The network of mentors you create is vital
3. You can expect your product to change beyond recognition before it’s successful
4. Building a successful startup is much harder than the press would have you believe
What is the most used piece of advice you have had to developing your startup?
Stay lean. Make your money last as long as you possibly can.