Our five highlights from RootsTech 2017

The Twile team were at RootsTech 2017 last week, at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, one year after we won 2 awards there in the Innovator Showdown.

Last year there was a huge buzz around Twile, because we were pitching in the competition and because we were introducing Twile for the first time to most people.  And the buzz was still there this time – RootsTech is such an exciting experience for family historians and we love being among such enthusiastic people!

Here are our five highlights from RootsTech 2017:

  1. Twile is now FREE for everyone
    On the first day of RootsTech, we announced we were dropping the subscription fee for Twile and making it completely free for everybody to use.  Needless to say, this was a very popular piece of news and we had a lot of new customers very excited to start using our family history timeline.
  2. Family history infographic
    We showcased our new family history infographic at RootsTech, allowing attendees to sign up and get their free “My Family In Numbers” chart, based on their FamilySearch or GEDCOM tree.  Get yours for free at: https://twile.com/numbers
  3. Innovator Showdown
    Five teams made it through to the final of the Innovator Showdown competition on Friday, 10th February.  Congratulations to Old News USA (1st), Qromatag (2nd), Double Match Triangulator (3rd) and Kindex with the coveted People’s Choice award! As one of last year’s winners, Twile were invited back on stage to give an update on what we’ve been up to since then.
  4. LeVar Burton’s keynote speech
    The keynotes are a big part of the RootsTech conference and the highlight for many was LeVar Burton’s speech on Friday morning.  The actor, best known for his roles as Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Kunta Kinte in Roots, gave a truly heartwarming talk about his relationship with his mother, his African heritage and slavery in the United States.
  5. The exhibition hall
    If you’ve never been to RootsTech, you’ll struggle to comprehend how big it is! More than 30,000 people visited the exhibition hall during the 3 days of the show and there was never a quiet moment on the Twile booth. We spoke with so many customers and made some fantastic contacts with exhibiting brands (big and small), forming the seeds of some really promising partnerships.

And Twile appeared on Utah’s KSL News as the exhibition was getting set up:

RootsTech 2018 is on 28 February – 3 March and Twile will most certainly be there!

Did you visit RootsTech this year?  Please add a comment below to tell us what your personal highlights were.

 

 

Twile at RootsTech 2017!

The largest global genealogy conference in the world – RootsTech – is finally here and we are delighted to be in Salt Lake City to be a part of it again.

The Innovator Summit kicked off the event today, reminding us of our experience in the Innovator Showdown in 2016, where we came away with two awards, including the coveted People’s Choice (read our previous article here).

Are you visiting RootsTech this week?Here are 10 reasons you should come and see us on booth #332 & 334.

10 reasons to visit the Twile booth

  1. It’s now completely FREE for everyone!
  2. You can create a FREE personalized infographic of your family history
  3. We can show you how to get the rest of your family interested in your research
  4. You could win a $200 Amazon gift card
  5. We’ll show you how to import your FamilySearch Tree
  6. We have free balloons for your kids!
  7. We’re on the way to the restrooms
  8. We’re from England…we might be related!
  9. We have cute British accents
  10. Our flights have cost a fortune (we’re from the UK)

Twile demonstrations

We are also doing several demostrations of Twile, so come along and find out more:

Thursday 9th February 

  • 2.30pm. Not just about records –  Kelly Marsden, Co-founder of Twile – at the Findmypast booth
  • 4.40pm. How to create your family infographic – Paul Brooks, CEO of Twile – in the Demo Theatre

Friday 10th February 

  • 2.30pm. Not just about records – Kelly Marsden, Co-founder of Twile – at the Findmypast booth

Saturday 11th February

  • 12.40pm. Turn your FamilySearch Tree in to a Twile Timeline – Paul Brooks, CEO of Twile – in the Demo Theatre
  • 2.30pm. Not just about records – Kelly Marsden, Co-founder of Twile – at the Findmypast booth

We look forward to seeing you!

 

 

Twile is now FREE for everyone

We are really happy to announce that – as of today – we have removed the subscription fee for using Twile and our family timeline is now free for everyone!

When we started Twile, our vision was for it to be used by all family members, who would share and collaborate on their family story. We feel that our subscription fee was getting in the way.

This is why it is now free to do everything on Twile:

  • Build your family tree
  • Share and collaborate with family
  • Add unlimited milestones and photos
  • Import from FamilySearch
  • Import and merge multiple GEDCOM files

Whilst we will no longer be charging customers to use our core product, we clearly do need to make some money. We are planning to introduce some optional add-ons in the future, which will enhance the Twile experience.

We realise there are many concerns within the industry about privacy and we want to take this opportunity to assure our customers that we will never sell their personal data.

So Twile is now free for you and all of your family – go ahead and build an awesome timeline of your family story, together!

Flying the flag for Northern tech startups

While the tech industry in the North of the UK never seems to get the attention that London does, some recent successes for Northern startups show that innovation is alive and well outside of the capital.

The Queen and Duke of York at Pitch@Palace
The Duke of York introduces The Queen to the Pitch@Palace entrepreneurs
Last night, Twile was one of 42 UK startups that attended Pitch@Palace at St. James’s Palace in London – at the invitation of Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.  Pitching in front of The Queen and a room full of high profile investors and entrepreneurs, the overall winners were Drenched (first place) and Mobile Power (second) – both from Sheffield – and the People’s Choice award was won by Manchester-based OfferMoments.  As a Yorkshire business, we were immensely proud to see our fellow Northerners take the top prizes!

Meanwhile, the grand final of the Northern Stars competition is about to take place in Manchester on 17 November, showcasing some of the most innovative early-stage tech startups in the North of the UK.  Run by TechNorth, with finalists in a wide range of sectors – from eCommerce to finance to education – the competition is proof that the North has a lot to add to Britain’s technology economy.

The TechNorth delegation in Seattle
The TechNorth delegation in Seattle
In October, I was one of a small group of Northern entrepreneurs that joined TechNorth on a trip to the US west coast.  We visited San Francisco and Seattle to raise awareness of our region’s tech industry and learn a little about how things are done across the pond.  While San Francisco is the undisputed centre of the tech world, it was clear from this trip that the UK’s North is able to generate businesses that can compete on every level with those that spring up in Silicon Valley.  The ambition, creativity and potential of the startups I travelled with were really quite inspiring – and we felt more than comfortable among the entrepreneurs and investors we met along the way.

I’ve written before about the challenges of raising investment and profile in the North of the UK, but these recent successes for the region’s tech sector should help to close the gap.

Related articles

Twile visits the US west coast

Twile Wins Two Awards in the Innovator Showdown at RootsTech 2016

Twile integrates with FamilySearch

Twile Partners with Findmypast

 

Vote for Twile in Pitch@Palace

You may be aware that we are in the running for the ‘People’s Choice’ Award at the Pitch@Palace event on Wednesday 2nd November. There is still time to vote!

If you haven’t yet voted, we’d really appreciate 60 seconds of your time.  You just need to click the ‘Vote Now’ button here: http://pitchatpalace.com/contestants/twile/

We are so excited to be part of this.  Pitch@Palace is organised by Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, to help showcase promising young businesses in the UK.  The People’s Choice award is your opportunity to show your support for Twile and help us raise awareness of innovation in the family history industry.

Thanks for your support.

Vote for Twile as People’s Choice

image-1-2
Kelly Marsden, Co-Founder of Twile

Twile is heading to St. James’s Palace, London in November for Pitch@Palace and we need your vote in the People’s Choice competition.

Visit www.pitchatpalace.com/vote and click on ‘Twile’ to give us your support

Following our participation at the Pitch@Palace boot camp last week, we are delighted that we have been invited along to the main event.

Pitch@Palace 6.0 is taking place on the 2nd November at St James Palace and all 42 entrepreneurs who took part in the boot camp are going head-to-head in the public vote. Pitch@Palace offers startups the opportunity to get their business idea in front of a global audience of influencers.

image-2
Caroline Brooks, Marketing & PR

We would love to be on the stage at St. James’s Palace receiving this award from HRH The Duke of York – if you’d like to help us, here’s how:

  1. Visit www.pitchatpalace.com/vote and vote for Twile
  2. Share this blog post with your family and friends and beg them to vote too – the more the merrier!

We are really grateful for your support!

 

Twile selected to join Pitch@Palace boot camp

Twile has been selected to proceed to the next stage of the Pitch@Palace competition, which means we’ll be attending a boot camp in Oxford later this week.

A couple of weeks ago, we had the honour of presenting Twile to The Duke of York in Sheffield, as part of the Pitch@Palace program – and we are delighted to again be presenting Twile to royalty and to showcase our unique timeline to an audience of investors and mentors.

Pitch@Palace on Tour event at the AMRC Factory 2050 on Tuesday September 20th 2016 with HRH The Duke of York. Pitch: Twile
Pitch@Palace on Tour event at the AMRC Factory 2050 on Tuesday September 20th 2016 with HRH The Duke of York. Pitch: Twile

Believe it or not, genealogy is a multi-billion dollar industry. Times magazine found it to be the ‘second most visited category of websites, after pornography!’, so we hope the investors find our presentation interesting… the pressure is on.

This time around, Co-Founder Kelly Marsden and myself will be up on stage to tell everyone how Twile came to be and where we are going.

We have spoken several times about our journey and how Twile has evolved.  As a startup in the North of England, we joined an accelerator scheme – DotForge in Sheffield, which helped us launch our product. We have received various rounds of investment from ‘Dragons’ in Yorkshire and London, plus investment from Findmypast, all of which helps us continue to make Twile even more amazing.

We need your help!
As part of the Pitch@Palace boot camp, we will record a 1 minute pitch, which will be our entry into a ‘People’s Choice’ award, voted for by the general public. After our success at RootsTech in February, we would love your support again! We will be circulating information soon, so be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Thanks!

Caroline

Twile visits the US west coast

Twile are visiting the US in October, as part of a cohort of companies chosen to help raise the profile of the tech industry in the North of England.  Arranged by Tech North and the UK’s Department for International Trade, the visit will take in San Francisco and Seattle – and we’ve added a few days in Salt Lake City for good measure!

tech-northBesides local events across the North of the UK – such as the recent Northern Stars and Pitch@Palace events that we were involved in – Tech North also promote export opportunities for tech products and services created in the UK.  There has been a flurry of activity in our region recently and it is fantastic to be a part of such a thriving digital community.

Our CEO and Co-founder, Paul Brooks, is looking forward to meeting with like-minded entrepreneurs in some of the most successful startups on the US west coast.

 

 

 

 

 

Olympic Memories

On Saturday 6th August the Olympic Games begins in Rio. As the World gears up to watch their countries’ best athletes compete, I’m sure I’m not alone in enjoying some 2012 Olympics nostalgia.

As the Olympics approached, we had the torch relay which toured the UK over 70 days. 8,000 people carried the torch a total distance of around 8,000 miles london-2012-olympic-torchstarting from Land’s End in Cornwall. I have memories of carrying my then 8-month old daughter as we watched the torch pass through our town – she had no idea what was happening but it was a fantastic atmosphere and something we had to see.

Prior to London 2012 there was apprehension about whether Britain could stage an opening ceremony to reach the standard set at the Beijing games 4 years previous. We didn’t need to worry – London’s effort was a huge success and became the most-viewed Olympic opening ceremony in both the UK and the US. The content showcased Britain’s technological and cultural contributions to the world, including the Industrial Revolution, literary heritage, popular music and significant inventions (many of which are included in our new Inventions stream to add to your timeline).

 

The event acknowledged how the digital revolution, arguably sparked by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners Lee, has changed everyday lives potentially as much as the Industrial revolution before it. In 2012, Twile was an idea, it was only just beginning and the invention of the Web made our product possible.

We joined the chaos, visiting London during the games. Everyone was in a good mood, everyone happy to be a part of something so special that would potentially only happen once in their lifetime. We saw part of the marathon and returned home satisfied that we had ‘taken part’, taking our very tiny slice of history home with us.

Our experiences of the day are recorded on our Twile timeline so that our daughter can see the photos. She will know she was in London during the Olympics, she will view our comments. She will see that we got wet in the rain, that Daddy forgot his waterproof jacket, that the Team GB duck she plays with in the bath now, was purchased from the shops outside the Olympic village by Grandma, who joined us for the day trip. One day she may be lucky enough to get tickets for the Olympics somewhere else in the world and she can record her own experiences on the same Twile timeline.

We look forward to watching the games in Rio this month. Records and memories will be made. Good luck to Team GB!

Twile supports #CreateUK

This week we have been supporting The Department for Culture, Media & Sport’s campaign #CreateUK, a week long celebration and showcase of the creative industries in the UK.s300_CREATE_UK_GOV.UK

As a tech startup in the UK, we’re delighted to be amongst a community of fellow creatives who are generating almost £10m every hour for the UK economy!

When asked why we create, many reasons sprang to mind and it reminded us of an article that Paul Brooks (Twile co-founder) wrote to TechCityInsider earlier this year:

“When we first started Twile in 2013, we had dreams and expectations of quick success, exponential growth and big investment. As it turns out, building a startup is a lot more than that. Along with my co-founder Kelly Marsden, I launched the company as part of the first Dotforge accelerator in Sheffield and quickly managed to close a small seed investment round from local angel investors.

We soon found that growing a consumer userbase with a small budget and an early product is not easy. We regularly worked 70-weeks with very little to show for them except a little more understanding and gradually improving product. We managed to maintain the confidence of our investors and they put more money in to two more rounds over the next two years, giving us the runway we needed to experiment, pivot and chase product-market fit. There were many times when we didn’t think we’d last long enough.

1[1]

Based in Yorkshire, it has been difficult to attract big investment and raise our profile in the tech community. While there are initiatives such as Tech North , to address the challenges faced by entrepreneurs outside of London, the capital is still very much the centre of the UK tech community.

To secure investment, you need to meet as many investors as possible and work to build long term relationships with them, keeping them updated on your progress and successes. With limited budget, it hasn’t been possible for us to travel to London regularly or spend large periods of time there. The fact that everyone involved in the business has young children has made this even more difficult. Of course, there are investors in the North, but from our experience most of them are lacking an understanding of the tech industry, especially web software. For example, it is fairly typical for a consumer app to prioritise growth over revenue at the start, but most investors we have met in the North East, for instance, expect to see a healthy turnover and strong balance sheet before they’ll even glance at the cover of a business plan.

Despite these challenges, our perseverance and hard work is paying off. In 2015 we started to gain recognition as an innovative visualisation tool for the family history market and started to acheive real growth.

We attended the RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City in February and won two of the four innovations awards as part of the innovator showdown competition – returning to the UK with $16,000 in cash and another $10,000 in “in-kind” support. We are looking forward to returning to RootsTech in 2017.

On our return, we learned that we had secured investment and a partnership deal with Findmypast, one of the leading names in family history. This gives us the resources and support we need to grow Twile into a global brand.

In under three years, we have evolved Twile from an early concept into a robust, fully featured product that solves a real problem for our customers. We have made a point of talking to our users as often as possible and we’ve used their input to intelligently prioritise development. We’ve put a huge amount of effort into every phase of the business and we’ve acknowledged our failures as essential steps to success.

If there’s a moral to our story, it’s that our own hard work is going to deliver the results. It’s easy to blame market conditions, geographical location, lack of government support of any other external factors for the failure of a start-up, but we’ve seen a number of early stage businesses (including Twile) succeed in recent years and every one of them has put a lot of effort in to overcome the obstacles they’ve been faced with.

Fortunately, recent investment in the infrastructure for start-ups outside of London is beginning to amplify the hard work that entrepreneurs are willing to put in.

Organisations like Creative England, (who have been hugely supportive in our journey, backing us from the beginning) and Tech North and accelerators like Dot Forge and Ignite are making it easier to start and succeed. If this can be matched by investors with an appetite for opportunities outside of London, I believe we will see many more successful northern startups in the near future.”

The #CreateUK campaign this week reminds us that with hard work we can continue to thrive and take advantage of the new opportunities which are opening up to do business across the world. Why do we create? Because it’s our dream, our passion, our mission to succeed.

Relevant articles: