The need to find an efficient process for people keep a journal of their children’s milestone accomplishments drove Jeff McNeil to form Qeepsake
by Doug Wood-Boyle
Like many young parents, Jeff McNeil and his wife Stephanie wanted to keep a journal for each of their five children as they were growing up, to mark the milestones along the way, but they found it difficult keeping up with the day to day entries that had to be made.
Jeff, who had owned and operated a computer program design company, was trying to find a way to simplify the process when Stephanie came up with an idea of a text message based program. “Stephanie and I had the idea, 2014, to have somebody send text messages on a daily basis that would prompt the users to answer questions about their children.”
In the first year of operation the company only had about two dozen users. Since that time, with the help of an appearance on the nationally televised entrepreneurial program “Shark Tank,” the number has grown to 2,700 paid subscribers and about 220,000 total users.
Jeff had started New Spin Digital several years previous to Qeepsake and, after he wrote the specs, was able to use one of his developers to design the program for the new company. The main requirement of Qeepsake was to keep it simple. “We broke all the rules and just decided to build it.” Jeff recalled.
“I hate inefficiency,” Jeff said. “I hate things that require a large amount of work.”
The McNeil’s had funded the start-up company out of their own pocket and Jeff was still operating New Spin while getting Qeepsake up and running. In November of 2015 the McNeil’s made the decision to “…go for it.
“We made the decision to shut down New Spin and go full time with Qeepsake. We didn’t code and had to pay for someone to do that for us,” Jeff said.
As the company started to grow some very important questions arose that needed to be answered sooner rather than later. Questions on how to reach new customers and where to get the financing needed to operate.
Jeff had heard about the Shark Tank program, where successful entrepreneurs listen to people with concepts for start-up companies. The decision was made to apply and Qeepsake made its application just in time for the last audition slot.
Jeff noted that the audition process was long and arduous. It included recording demo videos and filling out several forms.
“We got to offers on the program and decided not to take them,” Jeff said. “That was a blessing in disguise.”
He explained that between the times the show was recorded and when it was actually shown a year later, Qeepsake had qualified for another funding program where the company applied for a funding grant of $600,000 and were actually awarded $800,000. The company has been able to raise another half-million dollars this past summer.
Qeepsake now has 10 people on its staff and according to its website, www.qeepsake.com, they are hiring for positions in Waltham, Boston, San Diego and remote locations.
“It continues to be a struggle,” Jeff said, “but the love people have shown for the product and what we are trying to do have made it all worthwhile.”