Nebraskan with idea for afterlife social site wins Kansas Startup Weekend

Many people utilize social media platforms to store photos and share stories, but what happens to all that information when a loved one passes away?

Nebraska native Jarrod Straw encountered this problem in April when a close friend died, leaving him and other friends wondering how to come together online in memory of their deceased friend.

“That’s when I had the idea for FinalProfile,” Straw told Silicon Prairie News.

FinalProfile helps friends and family digitally collect memories or condolences when a loved one passes away.

Many people utilize social media platforms to store photos and share stories, but what happens to all that information when a loved one passes away?

Nebraska native Jarrod Straw encountered this problem in April when a close friend died, leaving him and other friends wondering how to come together online in memory of their deceased friend.

“That’s when I had the idea for FinalProfile,” Straw told Silicon Prairie News. “I found myself on a mission to help people honor those who have passed away while incorporating something that everyone had access to: social media.”

FinalProfile is a website that utilizes hashtags and QR codes to gather information shared across multiple social networks regarding a person who has passed away. These compiled memories, stories and photos are viewable by loved ones anywhere, and a physical, commemorative photo book is available for purchase.

In early April, Straw decided to drive three hours by himself to Hays, Kan., to participate in Startup Weekend Hays. Once there he hoped to get enough votes for his idea to bring a team together and start his new business over the course of the weekend.

In fact, he was so enthusiastic about getting there and seeing what could happen with his idea that he didn’t even rent a hotel room.

“I had nowhere to stay, but if my idea was chosen, I figured I could find an open room somewhere,” Straw (right) said. “I didn’t know anyone when I arrived, either. Most of the attendees were either students or alumni of Fort Hays State University.”

Once the Startup Weekend kicked off, Straw described his initial vision and made it through the voting process. In order to build his business plan over the next 56 hours, he joined forces with three developers—Jeff Baier, Spencer Autem and Nick Hoffmann.

After two and half days Straw describes as grueling, their team presented a new, more polished product to a panel of four judges and took home first. 

Straw pitched FinalProfile as something comprehensive and interactive: the first and most comforting place on the web for visitors to come after the loss of someone close to them.

FinalProfile provides a QR code and hashtag in honor of the person who passed away, which family or friends of the deceased can give to a funeral home to be placed on printed materials. A profile is simultaneously created on the FinalProfile website, which can then be accessed via the QR code or hashtag, or by simply typing in the deceased’s name. 

FinalProfile then pulls in all posts across multiple social media platforms that utilize the newly created hashtag so friends and family can share older photos or stories to be collected in a singular location.

“Winning Startup Weekend helped me realize that if you have an idea, it is only worth as much time and effort as you put into it,” Straw said. “Entrepreneurship is all about the ride, and the things you sacrifice along the way make success that much sweeter.”

Aside from a trophy commemorating their win, the FinalProfile team received tax, business and accounting support from Kansas firm Mapes and Miller, as well as management development training from Fort Hays State University. They also were granted paid registration for the next Startup Weekend Hays, which will likely be held this fall.

Going forward, Straw hopes to gain further mentorship, specifically related to the e-commerce space.

“FinalProfile is important to me because I want to help people get through some of their most challenging times,” he said. “I think if you can grow a business while helping people, you’ve found the right idea.”

 

Credits: Photos courtesy of FinalProfile.

JOIN THE MOVEMENT!

Sign up to receive daily updates in your inbox.