How a side project became the company – with Memoir co-founder Lee Hoffman

We take a million photos a year. We post frantically on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare. We are digital. We don’t hang photos on the wall anymore. We are also human and forget the things that happened at the places they happened with the people it happened with. I know this fits my profile. You?

Since the emergence of digital photography and then social networks, I’ve looked for a way to capture and surface my digital life in a way that requires the smallest effort on my part. This is the story of that service.

I found Memoir just after my mother passed away last fall and it immediately became a front screen app for me for two reasons: The first was that desire I have to catalog my digital life, the second was that almost immediately after I started using Memoir, it started surfacing great memories of my mother. It was so powerful that I believe it helped with my grief.

Lee Hoffman is one of the co-founders of Memoir and his story is a classic entrepreneurial journey of listening to the voice in your head and following a passion – however long it might take to arrive there. Memoir is not a simple app as you will hear. The sophisticated data crunching and hiding the complexity of the service behind a simple and powerful user experience are at the center of this story. So is the transition from a training company accepted at Techstars, to the way the app is marketed virally, to how they applied lean development in a mobile app world and even how mentors influenced their decisions early on.

A great story with a great founder talking about a great mobile service and application. Sit back and learn.


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Key takeaways from this episode. Click on the link and the video will take you to that clip

1. What was the inspiration to build Memoir? 3:00
2. The entrepreneurial trail of Lee Hoffman 5:55
3. Why did it take 2 years to build Memoir? 7:35
4. What kind of complexities are a part of this business? 12:25
5. How can you use lean methodology for mobile? 14:55
6. How did the conversation go with your investors when you switched businesses? 18:00
7. Do investors really invest in the team and not the product? 19:10
8. How did Techstars help Memoir? 21:30
9. What did early mentors do for you early on? 22:20
10. Does having a celebrity group of advisors put additional pressure on the team and company? 24:40
11. What drives you as a founder 27:20
12. How are you marketing Memoir? 32:50
13. How did you build the user experience to draw users in to the app? 37:55
14. How does Memoir make money? 40:25
15. Is there a natural time to turn revenue on? 43:20
16. What other technology is best poised to help Memoir 44:00


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About Lee hoffman
Lee hoffman Memoir Lee Hoffman is the Co-Founder and CEO of Memoir, an nyc based social memories startup. Over the past 15 years, Lee has co-founded and managed technology for companies as diverse as Time Warner and Razorfish Studios. In 2000, at age 19, Lee served as Director of Technology and E-Commerce for Razorfish Studios. While pursuing his degree at Brown University, Lee founded and served as CEO of Terabolic, Inc. (, an email and web hosting company he grew to several thousand global customers. In 2006, Lee co-founded Heat Watch ( which manages and controls the utilities in several thousand buildings across the united states.

About the author

Rob Woodbridge

I'm Rob, the founder of and I've spent 14 years immersed in the mobile and pervasive computing world. During this great time I've helped some of the most innovative companies grow their business through mobile. If you are in need of a mobile business advisor or coach, connect with me here to get things rolling.

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