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Launch HN: Artifact (YC S20) – Personal podcasts with the people in your life
266 points by ross_chanin on Oct 28, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 105 comments
Hi HN,

I’m Ross Chanin, co-founder and CEO of Artifact (https://www.heyartifact.com), where we help people record the important stories in their lives, told in the voices of friends and family members. Think of us as an on-demand podcast studio you can focus on anything you want. We set you up with an interviewer in our marketplace, and we make the process easy, from scheduling to hosting interviews over the phone, and then delivering a polished edit that wouldn’t sound out of place on the radio.

Our idea was born out of a personal sense of loss: My grandfather passed away and I found myself regretting that I hadn’t captured him telling stories about his life. I thought others might feel the same about someone in their own lives.

The problem (for me, anyway) was that I didn’t have an easy way to go deep with my grandfather. It was never the right time. Some of the questions I wanted to ask were quite personal. I don’t have audio editing skills, so I was unsure what I would even do with the raw audio if I’d recorded a conversation with him.

I mentioned what I wanted to do to my friend, George, who’s a journalist. He stopped me and said, “But that’s what journalists do. Why don’t you hire a journalist?”

We decided to try it as an experiment. My Aunt Cindy was about to turn 59, so George called up three of her oldest friends, interviewed them about their relationships with Cindy, and delivered an edit that, when Cindy heard it, had her laughing and crying in equal measure.

Cindy and her friends told us three things that we have since heard over and over: First, customers often tell our interviewers things they’ve never told their loved ones, but would like to be able to say to them (example - https://www.instagram.com/p/CDlwIojFPmF/). Second, we routinely hear from recipients that, as soon as they've heard an episode in which people talk about them, they want to call those people and thank them. And third, that the experience is helping people feel closer to each other.

But the truth is that we would have only ever been a cottage production studio with George and me at the helm (that’s right, my friend George became a co-founder). This is where Moncef Biaz and Martin Gouy, our technical co-founders, enter the picture. Together, as a team, we think about Artifact as a marketplace, connecting the right interviewers with the right guests (e.g., if you need a bilingual Mandarin and English-speaking interviewer who is also great with 11-year-olds, we got you.) We’ve also become obsessed with the state of audio recording and editing technology, effectively asking the question: "How close can we get to studio-quality sound without the studio?" The answer is: pretty darn close.

Far more important than the audio quality is the substance of what people are telling our interviewers. Our customers are telling us that these incredibly personal stories are becoming heirlooms for their friends and family. Customers are also teaching us new ways to use our service: wedding and anniversary gifts, family heritage, journaling, enterprise use-cases, etc.

We put lots of little snippets (with permission from our customers) on our Instagram. You can also hear a full Artifact—commissioned by a couple who wanted to document the husband’s cancer diagnosis and their shared journey (https://www.heyartifact.com/daryl).

Ultimately, our goal is to make this service accessible in every language, geographic region, and culture. Because we all have a story to tell; what we didn’t all have, until now, is someone to tell it to—someone who knows how to ask the right questions, how to record it, and how to make sure it sounds great, so that we can easily share it with friends, family, and generations to come.

I’d really love to hear the community’s feedback and I’m here to answer questions.


P.S. There’s more detail on that first experiment, and how we expanded our scope from there, in this blog post (https://www.heyartifact.com/blog/hey-were-artifact/).

That is really amazing idea. In quite a long time I haven't seen a startup that isn't just

a) pure entertainment b) automation/facilitation of some boring/mundane task

While the above are useful without a doubt, your service provides something more than just an utility - an enormous emotional value that I really admire. Once I prepared a kind of audio commemoration for incurably ill nephew of a friend of mine and I'll never forget the look of her eyes when she got this CD. I'm sure Artifact will provide such effects with greater intensivity and scale.

Wow. What you've created for your friend and her family is special (I actually just started tearing up a bit).

And it sounds like it has all of the care and sensitivity we could ever hope of bringing to people. So, it means a lot that you would even consider what we are building in the same context.

I'll also say that you've really honed in on our goal with Artifact - to create both an impetus and a space where going deep on the important things is just a little bit easier.

Very cool!

Have you heard of StoryCorp? [0] It's a nonprofit which sets up booths and recording equipment around the world, then records and transcribes intimate conversations between individuals and catalogues those stories in the Library of Congress so they can be found and remembered.

They have hundreds of thousands of conversations at this point. Pretty remarkable initiative, similar in philosophy to yours. Dave Isay, the founder, describes it as a "hope machine", kind of the opposite of reality TV.

StoryCorps also produces these 3-minute summaries of some of their more notable conversations, which cover the whole range of human emotion. Here's a funny personal favorite: https://storycorps.org/stories/betty-jenkins/

[0]: https://storycorps.org/

Hey - We really appreciate your support!

We have been deeply inspired by StoryCorps. And I couldn't agree more with Dave Isay's vision - this goal of creating a "hope machine".

What we've found with Artifact (thus far) is that the "do-it-for-you" aspect has been important - that we set up interview guests with a professional interviewer, who helps guide guests through the things they want to capture.

We see this as a natural extension of the StoryCorps mission - with the idea of making capturing the important stuff in life even more accessible.

And btw, the Betty Jenkins 3-minute summary is amazing! Thanks for sharing!

My Dad was a sound engineer. When I was 9 or 10 I interviewed my neighbour about life in London during the Blitz in WWII for a school project. We recorded the audio, edited it (on DAT!), and added some background effects for atmosphere.

It was brilliant: everyone loved it and I never got a better grade for any homework again.

So yeah, this could work. Good luck!

What an awesome project to work on with your dad!

Heck, I would love to listen to it.

Appreciate the sentiments and thanks so much for the good wishes!

Fantastic idea. My sister and I interviewed my parents in 2005 about how they met. Now that my dad's passed, the video has become an heirloom. It's an hour-long raw video though - editing it down into a tight story with an arc would be incredible.

At his eulogy I talked about how great it is that hundreds of awesome people came to say nice things about him. But it would be even nicer if he heard those things when he was alive. I encouraged attendees to go tell their loved ones how they felt before they were gone.

Artifact seems like it can help with that in a very polished way.

I can also easily imagine spending a few hundred $$ on this once or twice a year for various people in my life. It's on the high side (e.g. "meaningful gift/memorable occasion" pricing), but given your audio samples it seems price indicates quality.

Good stuff. Will be following your journey and will become a customer at some point.

I'm sorry for your loss and I appreciate your sharing your story about the video with your parents.

I eulogized my grandfather and felt similarly at his funeral - I learned so much about him over that day and weekend, and felt he would loved to hear those thoughts.

To your point on pricing - you're correct, we are very much focused on quality. As I mentioned in another comment on the post (and while it's off in the future), we do hope to bring price per episode price point down as we streamline ops. We really want our service to be accessible to all.

I very much look forward to serving you as a customer in the future.

My sister and I interviewed our grandfather before he passed, after being inspired by a friend who does this privately as an offline, local service. I'm so pleased to see this, it's heartwarming and so powerful. Having our grandfather's voice is priceless. Plus the stories we learned that otherwise would have remained with him!

Question: my friend would be perfect for this as a job for her, how might she go about applying?

As an aside could you also use it to write biographies? Biography-as-a-service I imagine might go down well..

> Biography-as-a-service

I'm not mocking your idea, I genuinely think it's great, but I can imagine how depressing the Amazon "Biographies" section will be in a few years when it's filled with Youtubers and Instagram influencers who "made it" and think their stories are worth reading...

So I think this is a really important thread you're pulling on.

When we think about our goal for Artifact, we really want to create a space for people to explore the important stories and subjects in life, especially when someone might think that those things might not be worth capturing - they are! It's why Artifacts are default private or set up for easy sharing only among close friends, family, or colleagues.

Now if people want to share their interview more widely, they are of course welcome to do so, but I 100% agree with you that I think what we are building looses a lot if the assumption is that Artifacts are created for primarily public consumption, etc.

It's something we'll be paying close attention to going forward. Thank you very much for the astute comment.

I believe everything that ever lived has a story to tell (or that did not live, even https://youtu.be/HOPwXNFU7oU).

I imagine a Borgesian world where all the stories that could ever be told are available to all the future ages of time. What incredible things could we do, as a people, if we truly were able to process in some way the lives of those who came before us, and knowing our own stories could be shared with generations to come? Narcissism notwithstanding, as for me it's the ordinary lives that have so much to offer us, in aggregate.

I think this is beautiful idea and thank you sharing the link to the short film.

And yes, the little things are in fact the big things.

I really wished I had done with my grandfather what you and your sister did with yours!

Your friend can email us at contact@heyartifact.com. George, my co-founder, will follow up from there.

Regarding biographies - great question. We don't currently do this, but it's an idea that make a lot of sense as extension of "Life Story" Artifacts. And in a lot of respects, "Life Story" Artifacts, which occur over 3 to 4 interviews, end up feeling a lot like an "audio biography" - with that intimacy of having the person's voice right there.

Thank for the suggestion and please do have your friend email us!

On some level I agree, but I also really don't: I'd never be able to listen to it, I'd find catching a glimpse of it etc. painful even, I'm sure.

This is a lovely idea!

Have you heard of the BBC's "The Listening Project"? It's a partnership between BBC and The British Library. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01cqx3b

> Capturing the nation in conversation

> Since 2012 we have been collecting intimate conversations between friends or relatives, to build a unique picture of our lives today. We have collected over a thousand so far, and most will be broadcast across BBC radio, while all are archived by the British Library, preserving them for future generations.

Thanks for sentiments and for sharing about The Listening Project! We absolutely have and much like NPR's StoryCorps, it has been a real inspiration for our team. Such a valuable effort.

I really like the product. If I had more money I would probably buy it.

One thing that could be helpful is to provide to a private RSS url in addition to web link, so I can play it in my podcast player.

Maybe there’s a DIY version of this product? You make available the internal tools that interviews use but let me actually do the interview? To make it cheaper.

I’m actually about to start interviewing my own family members to get some of our history recorded, so I'm very interested in this use case.

Hey - Thanks for the support! Really good feedback on the private RSS url. It's in the product/eng queue.

Also, noted on DIY + tooling as a way of making Artifact more accessible - I'd be really curious to learn what features you'd want as a user (i.e., what are your needs and what would feel like annoying feature creep, etc.).

If it's not too much trouble, as you start interviewing your family members, I'd love to learn about what kind of tooling would be helpful. We'd also be than happy to provide some pointers around the interview set up, sound quality control, etc. You can email at contact@heyartifact.com

Edit: This seems like such a great product, I'm really excited to give it a try. The Instagram snippets helped me appreciate what you are doing.

This is interesting. Audio is a super interesting format, and relatively unformed as a an asynchronous communication method.

I _was hoping_ from the title that it was the app that a friend and I joke about each time we send an overly long voice note message:

# FriendCast TM

_Voice notes for your long, winding asynchronous conversations_

* Keep track of what they said, what you said

* Listen once, respond as you think of it

* Audio threads to stay on track

If anyone has any thoughts on improving voice notes, I'm all ears.

(yes I hate voice notes just like everyone, the stream of consciousness can be terrible, but with some people it's a great way of keeping in touch async, and extensively used)

We're excited to serve you as a customer! And thanks for the feedback that the Instagram snippets helped.

We think that asynchronous convo with voice notes is a really interesting thread - definitely something to explore in the future...

I love this idea! I tried to do something similar for my dad who has lead quite the interesting life and is nearing his 80's. I quickly learned that I'm neither a skilled interviewer or audio editor. The price seems like a steal to have a pro handle all of that.

Hey - Really appreciate the sentiments! Thanks for sharing your experience with your dad - as I mentioned in the post, I had the same experience with my grandfather.

We'd love to have the opportunity to serve you as a customer. We're interviewing parents and grandparents about their life stories everyday. Feel free to reach out directly with any questions at contact@heyartifact.com.

And in case helpful, we typically create a "Life Story" Artifact over three to four interviews (so it's like a mini-series). The outline, which you can of course adjust to your needs, tends to look like this:

Interview #1: Family Heritage & Childhood - Your dad's personal memories of prior generations. Interview #2: Teenage Years / Young Adulthood / Early Career. Interview #3: Mature Adulthood / Family Life / Career. Interview #4: This tends to be a "wild card." Your dad and the interviewer may just have more territory to cover after the first sessions, or your dad may want to return to a certain time in his life or several themes. We can also 100% refund if this interview is not needed (we find that 80% of the time it is desired).

What an absolutely amazing idea. This hits me right in my interests. Kudos & good luck!

Thank you so much for the wishes!

It's always good to see someone take a big swing and try something new, but I'd love to hear the VC case for this service. I have trouble believing that 1) many people will want this 2) churn rate won't be murderous.

Hey - I really appreciate the sentiments on the swing we are taking. Regarding your on point concerns — I gotta share that we felt the very much the same before launching beyond friends and family.

Thus far (and, admittedly, it's early days), we are growing organically. When people are interview guests for an Artifact or listen to Artifacts involving, friends, family, or colleagues, they are becoming customers.

In this way, people are telling us that they can see a "constellation" of Artifacts around them and the people in their lives — and that they'll add to it over time. So, we might do an annual Artifact interview with your child from age 9 to 18, capturing their voice and their thoughts, and then you might sit for an Artifact with colleagues as a send off before leaving for a job, capturing that work together. You also might use Artifact to capture family heritage - with parents, aunts/uncles, and grandparents, and do so incrementally over time, etc.

So yeah, early days but this is what we are seeing. We'll be keeping our heads down, focused on providing quality service day in and day out.

I can definitely see the value. Definitely not trying to shoot at your business, just honestly curious.

100%. We have a ton to learn and figure out about engaging customers over the long haul. Absolutely don't have all the answers today. Really appreciate the curiosity!

My quick thoughts on a VC case: it's a $100M revenue company at ~500k sales / year. There's apparently 144M podcast listeners in the US, so you need 0.34% of that population to purchase your product each year. That may be an aggressive assumption, but investors also may think 'podcasts are a huge and growing market, even if this idea isn't the one that works out, there's a lot of potential in the "podcast creation" space'

At $175 for one podcast, I guess that's a pretty health number even if you mostly have people ordering them as birthday presents and for family reunions.

That's right. We are seeing that an event like an anniversary, birthday, reunion, starting the school year, is a reliable trigger into that first episode for a family or friend group, and then that group creates additional episodes organically from there.

I'll also say that (and this is off in the future), that we hope to bring this per episode price point down as we streamline ops. We really want our service to be accessible to all. Not there yet.

I really like this idea. I'm unfamiliar with podcasting overhead in a marketplace model. What can you streamline to reduce episode prices?

Thanks for support! To your question: The core interview itself will remain consistent, but we do see opportunities around streamlining the match of the interviewer to the interview guest, scheduling, providing a rock solid remote recording set up for interviewers, and the edit.

Nice analysis! I should also share that since launching in June, we've felt fortunate to serve customers across five continents. We'll definitely focus on the US as our initial market, but it's been exciting to see the potential appetite internationally.

I also like to think about podcasting as the "modern" medium for oral history and story creation. At its core, we think about Artifact as a service that makes it easier to go deep - and it just so happens that this podcast interview setting seems to be a good way to do that.

Seems like something that could spread like wildfire via word of mouth with people where word of mouth actually matters most and works the best.

Hey - So you're spot on. See my comment above. This is what we are observing thus far and what we plan to focus on going forward. We just want to focus on the core experience and letting the product speak for itself among friends and family.

Why does a service need a "VC case?"

Agree. It doesn't. We think about investment (of any type - including reinvesting revenue) in pretty simple terms: As a means to support our goal of making Artifact available to people who can benefit from our service.

If a "VC case" ends up supporting that goal, great. If not, so be it.

Please don't go and do something crazy to pursue some kind of Forbes Magazine exit... "what if we did Artifact, but for the corporate training market." or VC bullshit. This is a genuinely important company to exist and you can make millions or tens of millions dollars doing it, I hope no VC invests to try to get billions out of it.

For a snarky response, if the aim is to have a VC exit, the 5th minute of the artifact would be, "This artifact is brought to you by [Square Space|Harry's|MeUndies]"...

Hey - I don't take that as snarky at all! Totally fair point. See my comment above about how our team is thinking about investment.

I'm not particularly high on the DIY scale but this just screams do it yourself. Record Zoom calls with my mother's closest friends? Edit that together with some punchy music? Match to a slideshow? Share on any service I want?

All that is both pretty straightforward and fun. If I hire Artifact to do this for several hundred dollars, I've essentially paid someone else to have the fun.

I may be an outlier but this inspires me to do something, not to buy something.

This is really important feedback. Thank you. We actually think about what we are building as very much "Do-It-For-You".

Your feedback is making me think that we're not doing a great job of making clear the importance of the role of the professional interviewer in what we create for our customers.

Separate from the important logistical aspects of our service that other contributors mention on the thread, our customers continue to share with us that the role of the professional interviewer is just really important.

This space that gets created between professional interviewer and guest makes it possible for the guest to go beyond that first question about, say, the relationship between two people, and get much deeper into particular periods in each others lives when that relationship has really mattered, and also sharing makes sharing lighter moments a lot of fun.

I'll just say that the art and skill of the follow up question is real.

I'd also say that if reading a bit about what we are up to inspires you to interview your mother's closest friends about her and their relationships, that means a lot to me and please go for it. Also, let us know how we can help!

Feel free to email me with any questions you might have as to how to best set things up: contact@heyartifact.com

> Record Zoom calls with my mother's closest friends?

Will they necessarily talk to you, based on the relationship with your mother? Outsiders can often get info from people they wouldn't share with family members.

> All that is both pretty straightforward and fun.

Not for most people, and not with any reasonable assurance you'll get something 'good' at the end. Even scheduling time between multiple people can be a deal breaker. The OP had posted there never felt like a 'good time' to do it.

Asking good questions, prompting people who aren't great (nerves, whatever) can all add a lot of stress to the process.

I think you're probably a bit of an outlier. If it works for you, great, but... I know far more people that want the end result of something like this than have the time to do it.

Thank you for effectively addressing a number of the important aspects of our service.

I really appreciate.

I think there are many people that consider your "fun" toil. There are some people that, when presented with the opportunity, will pay to have their story be told :)

I think it is a great idea for a product to be spec'ed into family lore :)

Thank you for the sentiments! And I agree, there are many people who do prefer to DIY - and we are going to think about how to bring that into our product as well. We also look forward to serving those who like us to "Do It For You".

This is really cool. I wish there was a way to have non-english speaking journalists as interviewers, I'd totally set them loose on many of my family members.

Edit: Your homepage doesn't explain what you do well enough, IMO. When I visited it I wasn't sure what you do - but reading your post explained it to me (I think) - you hire journalists to interview your loved ones and turn it into a podcast. I didn't get that from your homepage.

Thank you very much for that feedback and you are correct: We set loved ones up for interviews with professionals and turn those interviews into podcast episodes. We can absolutely make this critical point much more clear than it is presently on the landing page.

We are now supporting Artifacts in Spanish, French, English, and just added Korean. Other languages on the way. In what languages would you like your family members interviewed?

Chiming in for Brazilian Portuguese

Yes! We are saving the email addresses of people who request specific languages so we can alert them as each new language becomes available on our platform—if you'd like us to let you know when Brazilian Portuguese is an option, please send an email to contact at heyartifact dot com and mention Brazilian Portuguese!

Fantastic idea! I find it really hard to give meaningful presents to people I care about. They already have everything they need, so often it's just food, wine, etc. For kids (that already have way too much toys) it's just more toys. Giving a heart warming experience is so much better, and your idea really makes that easier.

Thank you for sharing your reaction! And if you'd like to chat with our team about the different ways of using or giving Artifact, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at contact@heyartifact.com. We're here to help.

This is interesting, as IIRC another YC alum had a (non-YC) startup that failed that did almost exactly this (which shut down a while ago) - a marketplace of interviewers that recorded stories from older family members. Dunno if you've connected with him or not but seems like it could be worthwhile to chat

Thanks for sharing - we actually haven't. I'll ask the folks at YC and will definitely have that conversation. Very helpful. I really appreciate it.

No prob - I know a bit more info than I'm mentioning in public, just didn't want to overly distract here. Feel free to drop me an email if you want or something

This is interesting. I use soundcloud for this today. I have a few recordings of my family talking about the Great Depression, and some USO WW2 recordings from my Great Grandpa. Not sure If I would pay for this, since soundcloud is free - but I generally like this idea

Thanks for good words! Soundcloud is a great DIY solution and we are thinking about how to bring DIY into our service going forward.

I also want to repost from a comment I made below regarding the role of the professional interviewer and the Do-It-For-You approach we're taking (essentially the "what you pay for part"):

"...Separate from the important logistical aspects of our service that other contributors mention on the thread, our customers continue to share with us that the role of the professional interviewer is just really important.

This space that gets created between professional interviewer and guest makes it possible for the guest to go beyond that first question about, say, the relationship between two people, and get much deeper into particular periods in each others lives when that relationship has really mattered, and also sharing makes sharing lighter moments a lot of fun.

I'll just say that the art and skill of the follow up question is real."

Of course this is not to say that you and many others cannot do amazing recordings and interviews with family and friends - of course you can and that's a skill! It's just not a skill that I and a lot of other people have as much of a command of, and so we are hoping that our service helps out in those cases.

Hey Ross,

Amazing idea. My friend is an Investigative Journalist and as such - asks GREAT questions. I'm sure he'd love to be part of your roster. I think that's how you scale this by creating a deep roster of absolutely phenomal interviewers.

Hey - Thanks so much for the sentiments! We'd love to meet him. If he's up for it, please have him reach out to us at contact@heyartifact.com. We'll go from there!

And agree that the quality of interviewers will remain very important.

Had a similar idea recently and I'm so happy someone has taken this to fruition! Would love to know when you guys can do the interviews in Spanish since I'd want to get a few of my parents and grandparents stories.

Hey - Good news! We are currently serving customers in Spanish. With the caveat that the sign up process via our website is currently in English. That said, interviews are 100% in Spanish.

If you have any specific questions, please reach out to us at contact@heyartifact.com. If not, head on over to the website, sign up, and we can get going whenever you're ready.

Also, thanks for the sentiments about what we're up to!

I love this. I've wanted this to exist for years but never did anything with it, so I'm thrilled you have. Can you say more about the marketplace of interviewers? How do you recruit them? How are they vetted? How does matching work?

Thanks so much for the support! And great questions regarding the marketplace. To answer:

- re: interview requirement - Since launching we've had a lot of interviewers (moonlighting journalists) come inbound and we feel lucky for this. It's also a great help that George, one of my co-founders, has been a journalist and editor for 15+ years, so his network is deep and he's developed trust over the years. This is fine for the immediate future, but we will need to build out an interview portal in the future. Just not there yet.

re: interviewer vetting - We ask for writing and audio samples in advance. Each interviewer will then conduct at least one and sometimes up to four practice interviews with Artifact team members or friends of the company to collect feedback. There is a lot to build out here over time but we feel good about the quality of interviewers. It's core to the experience and so I'm really glad you asked about it!

re: interview <> guest matching - We make note of interviewer attributes like language proficiencies, skill at speaking with children, grandparents, subject matter expertise, etc. Based upon the information an Artifact buyer provides in their Artifact creation flow, we are then able to match an interviewer appropriately. That said, this is also something that we will build upon heavily going forward. Early days.

I hope the above helps and very happy to answer additional questions you may have!

Already a customer, this is a lovely company, wish you more success. Had some of my first interviews done this past week, solidifying information our family hasn't fully shared with each other. Its invaluable.

Frank, thank you for the good words. We feel privileged to help your family capture its amazing stories.

Frank - Thanks so much for the sentiments. It means a lot to serve you and your family as customers.

Hey Ross,

Love this idea! How are you thinking about sharing Artifacts with less technically inclined recipients?

I'd love to give this as a gift to my parents but I've unsuccessful tried a few times to get them set up with listening to podcasts.

Hey - Thank you! And good question. So unlike a "standard podcast" we don't upload Artifacts into Spotify, Stitcher, etc.

Instead we share Artifact episodes with you (the buyer in this case) via your Artifact account. You can then share out each episode as as weblink via text message, email, or however you prefer to share with your parents and they can listen from the browser on their mobile phone or computer. Example here of an Artifact that we are authorized by the interview guests to share publicly: https://www.heyartifact.com/daryl

So, no set up required!

Of course, happy to further clarify / answer any additional questions you might have - we'd love the opportunity to serve you as a customer.

I am a huge US soccer fan and an even bigger fan of Daryl Grove. I'm also a runner and listen to 15-20 hours of podcasts a week.

When I'm in "the zone" of a run and a podcast comes on that particularly resonates with me, I tear up (maybe 3-4 times in my 6+ years of running). I think that's due to a combination of the power of the podcast episode and my heightened emotional state when I'm on a long run.

This Artifact had that effect on me while I was sitting on my couch. I am blown away.

The sample artifact Ross linked can be saved as an MP3 file. Worst case/as simple as possible scenario, save that file to a USB drive, buy an MP3 player (for example: https://www.amazon.com/Pyle-Surround-Rechargeable-Auto-Tunin... ), tell them to plug the USB drive into the gadget, and hit play. Would that work?

That's right. We'll always provide a download option.

We'll also be rolling out accounts for Artifact listeners, so they can login to listen to Artifacts that are relevant to them going forward.

Have you seen Saga [0]? They're an app for making private podcasts with people in your life but, it's free - they help you choose questions and then everyone can hear each other's answers. There is an app [1] for the tech savvy, but also they have a dial-in option for older users where they can just call from a landline and record that way.

[0] http://trysaga.com/

[1] https://apps.apple.com/app/saga-private-family-podcast/id150...

We have and we are big fans of what the team at Saga are building!

I'd like to hear the creations as a type of "This American Life" series. Is there a way to subscribe to Artifact as a podcast?

The short answer is "it's in the works." And our thinking is very much consistent with where your mind is regarding the approach to the series.

In the interim, I'd suggest subscribing to our newsletter, which you can do from our homepage. We'll update folks via the newsletter when the pod is live.

And probably goes without saying, but I want to make clear that we will only profile stories or "creations" with folks who would like to make those stories public.

I tried to do this manually over Zoom with my parents at the start of the pandemic.

My mom focused on walking through the family tree and dad keeps putting it off.

This will for sure be a Christmas gift. Amazing idea.

Thank for sharing your experience - and very excited to serve you and your parents as a customer!

If you or they have any questions about getting started at all, just send us an email at contact@heyartifact.com

Just curious - did you guys present at last year's YC hackathon? I think I remember you! (we were the social film-camera team). Congrats on the launch!

Hey - We unfortunately didn't present at last year's YC hackathaon. Maybe it was a different team, thinking about a similar / the same idea?

Thanks so much for the wishes! Would love to hear more about the social-film camera idea / if you guys are still working on it. No pressure at all, but feel free to email us at contact@heyartifact.com. Can def set up time to chat!

I had a couple of good conversations with George. This is great example of how the team informs the product. Great work Artifact team!

Thanks for sharing your experience and insight on how we're approaching product! Lots of work ahead.

Thanks Glen! You've helped in lots of ways that aren't really apparent yet...

I think this might be appealing to someone like me, but that might be unfortunate.

Isn't this just a suboptimal substitute for a conversation?

Probably the people being interviewed can be more candid to a stranger compared to a family member/someone they know, and a professional interviewer would know better what to ask to get a good story out of them...

A bit like how people would tell taxi drivers their secrets, because they don't need to be afraid of the driver's judgement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgWVmi5P-D0

Yeah, I think you're right about being candid when talking with a stranger + the professional interviewer knowing what they are doing.

The taxi driver analogy is awesome, btw!

Hey - So we shared that same concern when we started doing the first interviews and edits with friends and family.

The feedback we received then and continue to receive from customers is that people are using our service to record what you might call "archival conversations". These are conversations about important questions, events, or people that you, and your friends and family may want to listen to again in the future - or later share with new friends and family (children and grandchildren) along the way.

I'd also say that we are finding that there is some kind of magic that happens when we bring together a professional interviewer with someone to talk about important things. The candor and depth in that session is something that continues to surprise us and our customers.

All of that said, I really appreciate your direct question about a potential weakness in what we creating.

This is a great idea, great product. Pricing is very reasonable. I'll recommend this

Thank you for the good words!

Why does this service frighten me? And, not in the way that global warming does.

Not sure :) but I also get a feeling of uneasiness, particularly after reading the site. There's a sense of commodification of our personal lives. Like a Hallmark card, except the company also gets a copy of the private section.

That said, I'm sure that's unfair - I could see myself working in the team and feeling well about providing this service. And it does sound appealing to get a recorded memory of a loved one. Plus I'm also the kind of guy who feels uneasiness at uploading photos to the cloud, and there aren't very many of us.

Hey there, this is a really interesting sentiment—thanks for sharing your misgivings. I'm George, the cofounder who did our first ~100 interviews. Would love to understand more about what makes you queasy so that we can better address those concerns for our customers.

One thing I'll mention is that all of our interviews are, of course, voluntary. I always begin by telling my guests that if I ask them a question that makes them feel uncomfortable for any reason, I want them to let me know and we can move on. Personally, my experience has been that the people I speak with feel valued when a loved one asks them to tell their stories, and pretty much every person I've spoken with has seemed to enjoy the experience.

Why not video?

They have an answer in the FAQ.

Thanks for the question. And thanks for flagging that we cover in our FAQs. I'll also say that we experimented with video as an option before launching publicly and it's something we have thought a lot about. For the future. From our FAQs...

"...there are two reasons we are not using video as an interview medium today.

First, video chat creates technical challenges when an Internet connection is spotty. This creates both sound quality and consistency issues, both of which are detrimental.

Second, we receive consistent feedback from customers that the idea of sitting for an “on camera” interview, while intriguing on first consideration, becomes both intimidating and unnatural as guests get closer to the interview. We’ve taken that feedback to heart. Our North Star at Artifact is:

Every interview guest comfortable.

Everything we do is focused on driving at this North Star. The reason is that we find that the more comfortable customers are when they sit for interviews, the better they express themselves. The better they express themselves, the better the product we can provide to you. It’s that simple."

Congrats. Great product.

Thanks so much! I really appreciate it!

Cool idea, though I'm interested in how you're thinking about scaling this? I co-founded Castup[1], a podcast editing startup and while we deliver quite a few episodes a month, I can't ever see it scale enough to require venture capital.

We are profitable and have been since our second week of operation.

[1] https://useCastup.com

Hey - Thanks so much for the candid question. FWIW, I think that what you guys are building at Catsup is a super valuable service and being profitable from week 2 is impressive!

From taking a quick look at your website (thanks for sharing it), it looks like you guys are focused on serving podcasters, which makes total sense.

So for us it's a bit different: We set up our customers (who are not podcasters) with a professional interviewer to explore subjects in their lives and the lives of others who are important to them. And yep, like Catsup, we do edit those interviews, so in that way there is some crossover.

Ultimately, different services and different customer bases. But I'm really excited about what you're building and it would be great to chat further if you're up for it. Feel free to reach out at contact@heyartifact.com.

And to your point, VC is in no way a marker of success. Building a sustainable business that provides value is what it's all about, and it sounds like you're doing just that. Hats off!

Thanks for your answer. Maybe, I have too much of a Bootstrapper mindset but when I see a service based company (like my own), I assume VCs won't be interested because it cannot scale to $1B or whatever number investors look for.

Again, great idea and I hope you guys succeed and prove me (and people who think like me about venture capital) wrong.

Really, really appreciate it and I don't think you have too much of a boostrapper mindset at all!

I think there are just different ways of building a business. Ultimately, it's just core to put the customer front and center with every choice you make along the way.

I wish you guys luck and please don't hesitate to reach out if you think we can collaborate — I'll do the same!

Is the goal a good product/service or to be filthy rich..?

Why not do it for the gratification of offering a great product.

I think your misunderstood my initial comment. It was regarding the fact that service based companies are expected to not reach scales that VCs look for, so my question was more so regarding how they plan to approach that problem when the time comes.

Exactly. The goal is a great product. If we focus on that and the gratification that comes with it, any other kinds of success, be it financial or otherwise, are only because we have that core goal first in mind - every_single_day.

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