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April 21, 2016 | Tom Ballard

Pass It Down a personal passion of Chattanooga’s Chris Cummings

pass-it-down-homepageBy Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Every start-up is designed to address a need, but only a handful are created to meet something as personal as the one that Chris Cummings has created.

Pass It Down, started by the Louisiana native who now calls Chattanooga home, will be unveiled at a massive technology event named COLLISION April 26-28 in New Orleans. In its first two years, the conference grew to more than 7,500 attendees from 50 countries.

That number has exceeded 10,000 this year for an event that features a variety of activities and an all-start line-up of about 240 speakers.

Cummings’ new venture was selected to be part of ALPHA, a component of the three-day conference that is focused on promising new tech-based start-ups.

“We are very, very thankful to get in,” Cummings says of his new venture whose name – Pass It Down – truly describes its mission.

“Everyone has a story to tell,” Cummings says. Pass It Down’s easy-to-use, menu-driven, multi-platform approach is designed to appeal to users of all age groups. More important, their stories can be crafted using video, audio, photos and text in any combination.

“We have a carousel of questions that help users tell their stories,” Cummings says, describing a component of Pass It Down named Pathways. It is a set of questions, customized to the specific storytelling area, that will help users record and share their family’s most meaningful stories.

To keep the storytelling fresh, new questions appear daily in Pass It Down’s broad set of categories.

Maybe grandchildren want to interview their grandparents about their lives or maybe the grandparents want to share memories with their existing or yet-to-be born grandchildren, recorded for posterity on Pass It Down’s platform.

Perhaps travelers want to share trip memories in real time or share them at a later date. Maybe parents want to share an exciting sporting event with family members who could not attend.

Cummings explains that users have the option of using Pass It Down’s numerous storytelling categories or create their own category with a customized set of questions.

“You can choose one of our curated questions to prompt your storytelling or create your own story from scratch,” he adds.

Users also decide who can see their stories and when they can see them.

Pass It Down was inspired by Cummings’ experience as he dealt with his mother’s debilitating illness.

“In 1980, my mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 23,” he writes on the company’s webpage. “By 49, my mom had lost her short-term memory, and her long-term memory and ability to communicate were disappearing quickly.”

Cummings recalls sitting in a nursing home by his mother’s side thinking how much there was that he wanted to know about her. “Big things, little things, just the stories of her life,” he says. “What was her favorite movie? What advice would she want to pass down to me? That day, I began sketching out an application that could capture someone’s life and their stories.”

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