This post is part of our “Startup Stories” series – where we feature select Designli clients with the goal of highlighting their products, their inspiration, and what has motivated them to tackle the world of building a digital startup.
Kathy Luck designed Thingealogy to make it easy to share the stories behind the things that we value. If you cherish family heirlooms, are a collector, an artist, or simply have items associated with special memories, you probably find it meaningful to share the stories behind your items with others. In this interview, Kathy shares how she came up with the idea for the Thingealogy® system and what she’s learned through building a startup.
Tell us a bit about Thingealogy.
If you have something that is meaningful to you, like a photo, a painting, a vase, a gift, a travel souvenir, an award, I can almost guarantee you, there’s a story behind it. Thingealogy is an app and web-based system to record, save, and share that story. I believe it’s the story that brings those things to life for other people and ultimately adds value to them. Thingealogy is easy to use and provides a secure way to share the story of your Things!
What’s your origin story? How did your company come to be?
It started when my parents asked me to be one of the executors of their estate. As I was helping them decide what to do with their belongings, I found that I loved hearing the stories behind their heirlooms, many of which I was hearing for the first time. For example, we were in the guest room at their house and they told me about the Brazilian bedside table that had traveled with them since they were first married 60 years earlier. They also shared more of the story of my great-grandmother whose photo was on the wall. At the time, I wished I had a way to record these stories because I wanted to share them with my family. Later, I looked for an app that was designed for this, and I couldn’t find one. The name “Thingealogy” came from merging “thing” with “genealogy” and the logo was inspired by Aladdin’s lamp — the story of which is known worldwide.
What drove you to start your company at the specific time that you did?
I had an iPhone in my hand and needed a way to save the stories of all these things my parents have!
How has your initial idea changed since you first started your business?
The first version of the app didn’t have as much functionality as this second version. As people started using the app, we realized there were features we could add that would make the system more useful. For example, we added a beneficiary feature which helps users with wills and estate planning. We’ve also added a spreadsheet-based organizational system on the web app which is useful to artists, galleries, small museums, professional organizers and individual collectors alike. One feature the app has always included is the QR code – to me that’s where the magic happens!
What’s the most rewarding thing about running a company?
I was a stay-at-home mom for many years. I found that while driving to and from our children’s events, I gravitated towards listening to podcasts about entrepreneurs and startup businesses. Running Thingealogy has given me a way to put some of the things I learned into practice.
Who inspires you?
I’m all over the place when it comes to finding inspiration, but for sure I have been inspired by the many people featured on the Tim Ferriss and the Building a Storybrand podcasts, both which I still listen to today. Some of their featured guests who come to mind are Arianne Huffington, Ken Burns, Adam Savage, Ben Horowitz, Jamie Foxx, Vanessa Van Edwards, Nancy Duarte to name a few. I also am inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert, Oprah Winfrey, and Brene Brown. Powerful women with powerful messages.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
You never know where the best advice is going to come from. Ask questions, be open to possibility, listen to what’s going on around you, and follow your instincts. Our lives are so individual and multifaceted. It takes time to listen to your inner voice, but if you can tune in, you can figure out what makes sense to you.
What advice would you offer to new startup founders or those who are in the early stages of starting a company?
Find a good team to help you. I’ve been working with Josh Tucker and Keith Shields, the founders of Designli, since 2014 when we started the first version of Thingealogy. Their work ethic, transparency, and knowledge of the coding world is the main reason Thingealogy is such an easy-to-use and secure system. Another piece of advice is that it takes time to develop a product, so while you’re putting in all those long hours make sure to enjoy the process.
Ready to chat with the Designli team about bringing your own startup to life? We’re here to help. Contact us here.