Craig Lemmon, chief executive of Stirling-based Miigen (which he set up with Campbell Ferrier), has just returned from meeting investors in the US, where he spoke to venture capitalists and angel syndicates.
Miigen is looking to raise seed funding of up to £250,000 in the UK to drive its growth and recruit staff, and $10 million (£7.9m) in the US for its launch there next year. It is targeting more than 100,000 users by June 2017 and ten million by 2022, and is looking to increase staff numbers from five currently to several hundred in the longer term.
Lemmon said the concept for Miigen came about when his father died and he was going through his belongings in the loft.
“I opened up shoeboxes full of images and I realised the story of my dad’s life was in these,” he says, adding that he didn’t know the story behind many of the pictures.
“I wish I’d captured that, so I decided the best way of doing that was to build a digital time capsule to allow older adults to upload these images, but more importantly to voice tag them.”
He said voice tagging would enable people to go back to the photograph in later life and trigger the memory with the recording.
Realising that there was a wealth of individual and community knowledge contained in shoeboxes in many households, the Miigen service had a soft launch earlier this month, following market research. “Now’s the time just to get it out there,” Lemmon said.
He has also been leveraging his knowledge as owner and managing director of IT firm 2e-volve, and said there is currently no cost to use Miigen but it is looking at a subscription-based model for the likes of family groups.
Lemmon said there are technical barriers, with a “behavioural challenge” to overcome in getting older people online, but he said the service has proved popular with families and therefore younger people with better digital skills.
In addition, Miigen is looking to bring on partners. “We’re going to connect to large organisations that have big databases,” Lemmon said, such as those covering the dementia sector, and the AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) in the US, which focuses on people aged 50 and above and has a membership of nearly 38 million.
Lemmon also cited the expected increase in the population of older people, with the UN forecasting that by 2050 the number of over-60s globally will reach 2.1 billion. He added: “We’ve got the platform ready, it’s investor-ready now. We’re trying to capture this generation that’s going to be lost.”