Deathtech Startup Mylestoned Snaps Up Heirloom’s Photo-Capturing App

Xconomy Boston — 

Mylestoned, a young Boston startup aiming to develop a more interactive and meaningful way of digitally memorializing the dead, has acquired the photo-scanning technology of Heirloom, a small San Francisco firm.

Heirloom created an app for digitizing paper photos. The app uses a smartphone’s camera to quickly scan the photo, and then its software edits the newly created digital version and stores it online for sharing privately or via social media.

Brothers Eric and Evan Owski founded Heirloom in 2014 and raised $1 million from investors to pursue the idea. The next year, LinkedIn snapped up Heirloom’s small team in an acqui-hire, says Mylestoned founder and CEO Dave Balter.

The app lived on, attracting more than 100,000 users along the way, Balter says. It drew his attention, and Mylestoned scooped up Heirloom’s technology for an undisclosed price in a deal that closed June 1, he says. Mylestoned has raised $1.5 million from investors to date.

Mylestoned is creating a digital repository for preserving memories of loved ones. Its product is still being developed, but an early, bare-bones version unveiled in March allowed people to submit short memories of a deceased person to an online collection of tributes. Those text-based memories can be augmented with photos, audio, videos, and more.

The Heirloom deal could advance that vision. It’s easy to see the appeal for Mylestoned: A simple photo-digitization tool would be useful for customers creating online homages to deceased loved ones. Although digital relics are increasingly important—think Instagram photos or YouTube videos—plenty of memories are still stored in “offline artifacts,” Balter says. (Photo albums and handwritten letters, for example.) Mylestoned intends to help people organize and more effectively share both physical and digital mementos.

“How do I take all these offline things that are frankly decaying and stored in a box in the basement, and update them so they can be part of the digital history of my loved one?” Balter says.

The Heirloom app seems an easier and faster way to digitize photos than using a bulky and relatively slow desktop scanner. Perhaps more importantly, Balter says the app renders high-resolution, automatically cropped, and “beautifully color corrected” digital scans that look great—which isn’t always the case with typical scanning machines. Heirloom’s “technology simplifies the process into something that actually looks good. And that’s a challenge,” he says.

Mylestoned plans to maintain and improve the standalone app, while also incorporating it into the Mylestoned service, Balter says.

But the Heirloom deal isn’t just about gaining access to useful software. It’s also a way for eight-person Mylestoned to quickly acquire users and learn more about their habits and needs, which aids the development of its main product.

“In a world where growth marketing is everything, you’re looking for channels where there’s a natural high likelihood of user growth, user retention, and acquisition, at a cost you believe is appropriate for the business,” Balter says. “We’re trying every channel we can to find the audience. Here’s one that fits.”

[Above photo of a wedding photo album was taken by Flickr user Needle & Awl, used under a Creative Commons license.]