For those guilt-ridden moms who want to scrapbook every missing tooth, Halloween costume and first day of school but cannot seem to find the time, there is a new memory keeper in town—and it only takes a moment.
Menlo Park resident Chris Kundinger created Moment Garden, an online scrapbook/time capsule/baby book, to give families an easy and efficient way to record the doings of their blossoming children for loved ones to see.
Approved contributors can email in photos, comments and notes to the Moment Garden email address specific to the child. The submissions then display themselves as flowering moments in a digital “garden” that one can easily scroll through on a single, secure web page.
“The idea started as writing stories to that email address so your kid can read them when they grow up,” said Kundinger, who co-founded the website with his friend and colleague, Zachary Garbow.
Kundinger and Garbow came up with the idea when a close friend had another baby and they were discussing how to anthologize her children's lives—without devoting hours to a scrapbook.
“When my kids were first born, I had big dreams of keeping a beautiful, elaborate, artistic, thoughtful and detailed scrapbook/journal for each boy,” said Wendy Riggs, a Moment Garden user from Eureka, CA.
“And then I realized that having kids is insane, and being a parent leaves you exhausted and with little energy to record all those precious moments that pass so quickly,” said Riggs. “Moment Garden is truly brilliant, because all I have to do is email my kid, and that hilarious moment is captured.”
Riggs, who has two boys (4 and 6), started using Moment Garden in November. “So far, my Mom is the biggest contributor,” she said, “and so our Moment Garden 'scrapbooks' have a depth and richness that would not have been possible if they were built from my own perspective alone.”
Aunt Susie, cousin Tom, even Grandma can help document a child's daily life on Moment Garden—as long as she is an approved contributor. Privacy proved a prime factor for the founders, who saw that many people were uncomfortable sharing information about their children's lives on Facebook.
Moment Garden is hosted on a secure online database, and only family and friends that the green thumbs approve are allowed to see or contribute to each memory garden. If garden creators want, however, they can choose to share a specific moment on Facebook, without sharing the entire timeline.
And you don't have to be a member to contribute. “You can send an email to grandma and have her hit reply and it will show up” in the garden, said Kundinger.
Garden creators can also add a moment directly to the garden itself, without using email. Moment Garden sends weekly reminders to post a new memory—because, hey—if Elliott ate something new for breakfast, his godmother and future 24-year-old self is going to want to know about it (okay, maybe just the godmother).
Since going live online in November 2010, the website now boasts 1,500 individual gardens, with an average of 4 to 5 contributors per garden. Though it has not officially “launched” as a public entity, the site has been picked up by the blogosphere and made known by word of mouth.
“About two-thirds of our users are foreign,” said Garbow, quoting Japan, India and Brazil as the most common home countries of Moment Garden users. “We get a lot of feedback that we can't even interpret. We use Google translate.”
Despite its name, Moment Garden does not accept seed funding. After a failed attempt at launching another startup called Socialbrowse with the help of Y Combinator in Mountain View, Kundinger, who had moved from his hometown of Rochester, Minnesota to do so, started over in Menlo Park to create Moment Garden with Garbow.
“We soured on the whole raising money thing,” said Garbow, who still lives in Rochester. “We've been very careful to make sure to take our time to make the product exactly what people want.”
In order to perceive that goal, Moment Garden allows direct feedback from its users, like Riggs, who can in turn see how they impact the product when changes are made to the site in response.
“It has been an honor to be included in the development of this idea,” said Riggs. “These young men are so positive, proactive, and energetic. It has really been awesome to be able to make suggestions and receive such a positive response.”
The founders are considering creating revenue in the future by charging for a premium model of Moment Garden that offers additional features, charging for an iPhone or iPad app, or requiring users to pay a couple bucks a month to discontinue marketing ads. But, Kundinger and Garbow are still in the testing stage. “Our main goal is to create something people love,” said Kundinger.
The founders, both former IBM employees, rely on savings to fund their full-time work running the site (Kundinger sold his car to cut living expenses).
“The problem is, I'm not saving for retirement,” said Kundinger, whose girlfriend is doing her residency at Stanford Hospital. “If we build this, and we do this right, it might take a couple years. But I'm willing to wait.”
There are 15 kids on Kundinger's neighborhood block in Menlo Park; all 15 have their own moment gardens. “I really wanted to do something that one, I truly believed in and two, that I will use,” said Kundinger.
“It's doing good, too,” he said. “You're helping families come together—and it's a little different.”
You can create your own garden of memories at www.momentgarden.com.