Archive for the ‘Genlighten Events’ Category

Off to NGS

Monday, April 26th, 2010


Genlighten will be attending the NGS Conference in Salt Lake City that starts this coming Wednesday April 28th. We’ll be at booth 919 in the GenTech area of the Exhibit Hall (in the Salt Palace.) We’d love to meet our blog readers, newsletter subscribers, registered users, lookup providers, Twitter followers and Facebook fans/likers. Please stop by and offer your feedback and ideas for the site. We’ll have our usual generous assortment of chocolates for your indulgence and enjoyment. Hope to see you there!

Genlighten ♥ The “Tip of the Iceberg” Illustration

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010


I came across this photo today as I was preparing this month’s issue of the Genlighten newsletter. In the picture, I’m giving my 3-minute pitch to the panel of judges at the midVentures25 competition held a few weeks back.

One of my slides included the now-famous “Tip of the Iceberg” illustration commissioned and owned by the California Genealogical Society. It communicates in an exceptionally clear way the fact that most genealogical records simply aren’t online. Since this remains a big component of Genlighten’s value proposition (“We help you find the offline records you need via a network of local researchers with access to remote repositories”) I wanted to make sure I drove this point home to the judges in a memorable way. From the questions and comments I got, I’m pretty sure it worked.

Genlighten named one of five finalists at midVentures25

Friday, March 12th, 2010

midventures25_11Some highlights from our participation in midVentures25 tonight:

  • Several of the people I’ve met at local tech events like the Chicago Tech Meetup, the Lean Startup Circle Meetup, and the Hacker News Meetup stopped by our booth to say hi and wish us success with the judges.
  • A large assortment of hip-seeming 20-somethings asked us what our startup was about and seemed surprisingly interested in finding out more about their family history.
  • Several people said they’d seen or heard about either Faces of America or Who Do You Think You Are. Even more commented on the recent Oprah episode spotlighting WDYTYA.
  • A representative of a local church expressed interest in having their records digitized. My wife got their contact info so we could connect them with officials from FamilySearch.
  • The judges seemed to take us seriously and asked insightful questions that showed they “got” what Genlighten was about.
  • We were selected as one of the five finalists from the 25 exhibiting startups, and were asked to give a 3-minute pitch to the panel of judges, which included local VCs and entrepreneurs. Andrew Mason of Groupon and Chuck Templeton of OpenTable were among them.
  • Despite my nervousness, I managed to give our presentation without feeling hurried or stressed and I was able to answer the judges’ questions calmly and confidently.
  • We didn’t win, but we nonetheless came away feeling like we’d had a successful and rewarding evening.

Thanks to the organizers (Brian Mayer and Jonathan Pasky) for selecting us to participate and for putting on a great event.

Genlighten to participate in MidVentures25

Friday, March 5th, 2010

midventures25_1Like many cities that aren’t within an hour or so’s drive from Sand Hill Road, Chicago often finds its fledgling startup community compared unfavorably to Silicon Valley’s vaunted entrepreneurial ecosystem. One discouraged Chicago entrepreneur  lamented about six months back in a comment on a Hacker News article I’d posted:

I should have started my company in the Bay Area. It’s too late for me. Save yourself.

That Was Then…

Based on the startup events I’ve attended over the last few months in the Chicago area, and the smart founders I keep running across, we’re starting to make some solid progress in the Midwest. Here are a few anecdotal bullet points to support that assessment:

  • The Chicago Tech Meetup held back in January had 170 people attend. Jason Fried of local success story 37Signals was the keynote speaker.
  • Recently-launched Chicago startup Groupon is doing spectacularly enough to attract frivolous opportunistic lawsuits.
  • Scale Well, a modest source of $1k-sized seed grants to help startups gained traction, just made its first investment.
  • ExcelerateLabs, a Chicago-based startup accelerator program akin to TechStars, will have its first run this coming summer. We’re currently working on our application.
  • And now we even have our own version of the TechCrunch50: MidVentures25.

[For those who don't share my fascination with the tech startup scene, TechCrunch50 is a startup demo day event held every year in Silicon Valley. Online personal finance website launched there in 2007. Genealogy startup launched its "Pages" feature there in 2008.]

This is Now

And guess who will be participating in the inaugural version of MidVentures25? You guessed it, our modest little genealogy startup.

If you’re in the Chicago area, feel free to stop by our booth. The event will be held downtown at 200 S. Wacker Drive, 12th floor, on Thursday March 11th. Registration begins at 5 pm, and things wrap up around 10 pm, but you can show up pretty much anytime in between. The full schedule is here. We’d love to visit with you, answer any questions you might have, practice giving you our elevator pitch, and get your usability feedback and suggestions. Thanks!

Genealogy Lookups 101 — New Genlighten Presentation at

Monday, February 15th, 2010

genealogy_lookups_101_presentation_on_slideshareI’ll be giving two presentations at the upcoming South Davis Family History Fair on March 6th in Bountiful, Utah. One will be an updated version of a talk I gave at last year’s SDFHF: “Twitter: Can It Really Help Me With My Genealogy?” The other will be a newly-developed introduction to Genlighten for potential lookup providers: “Genealogy Lookups 101“.

I just uploaded a draft of the “Genealogy Lookups 101″ slides to our account on I’d be grateful if you’d take a look and offer any feedback you might have so I can improve it prior to the Fair.

Lots of Slides, But Very Little Text

Please don’t be put off by the number of slides — 137 in all. There’s almost no text on the pages… they’re basically just simple images with brief captions, for the most part — so you can page through it quite quickly.

I’m particularly interested in your impressions of how the talk flows, and if the images I chose seem like a good match to the headline text. But I also hope the presentation piques your interest in becoming one of our lookup providers, and any feedback along those lines would be very welcome too. Thanks for your help!

Live Near the Family History Library? Come Have Dessert On Us!

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

I’ll be visiting the Salt Lake area to talk over partnership and collaboration possibilities with several Utah genealogy companies this Thursday and Friday. I’d love to meet readers of this blog while I’m in town, so I’ve scheduled a Genlighten meetup both Thursday and Friday nights. If you’re in the area, please stop in. I’ll answer any questions you have about the site, becoming a provider, whatever you’d like. I’ll even spring for dessert!

Here are the details:

Thursday, February 11thKneaders Bakery in Midvale, Utah

Kneaders Bakery

742 East Ft. Union Blvd.
Midvale, Utah
Time: 7-9 pm
RSVP on Facebook here

Friday February 12thTrio Cafe in SLC

Trio Cafe

680 S 900 E
Salt Lake City, Utah
Time: 7-9 pm
RSVP on Facebook here

Lookup Provider Meetups in NYC this Friday and Saturday

Thursday, November 19th, 2009
Shake Shack Madison Square Park

Shake Shack Madison Square Park

I’ll be in the New York City area this Friday and Saturday, and I’m hoping to meet with potential Genlighten lookup providers. If you’re thinking about offering genealogy document lookups through, and you live near NYC, please consider stopping by for a brief presentation, a little Q&A, and some free food.

Here’s my (tentative) schedule:

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Noon-1 pm

Shake Shack
Southeast corner of Madison Square Park
near Madison Avenue and East 23rd Street
New York, NY

7-8 pm

Pete’s Grill
39-14 Queens Blvd
Sunnyside, NY 11104
(718) 937-2220

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Noon-1 pm

Queens New York West Family History Center
40-24 62nd Street
Woodside, Queens, New York
Phone: 718-478-5337

8-9 pm

Omonia Cafe
3220 Broadway
Astoria, NY 11106
(718) 274-6650

Please e-mail me if you need directions or have other questions: Thanks!