Today at RootsTech, the world’s largest Family History technology conference, TapGenes, won the Innovator Showdown and walked away with $45,000 in cash and prizes. The Chicago, Illinois-based, firm helps families identify and benefit from key health traits that exist between generations.
In front of a crowd of close to 10,000 live and online viewers, the six RootsTech Innovator Showdown finalists battled for $100,000 in cash and prizes and bragging rights in the rapidly-growing, multi-billion dollar family history industry. TapGenes was awarded $20,000 in cash and $25,000 in-kind prizes.
TapGenes provides the tools to identify the genetic thread that ties a family together. Founder, Heather Holmes, got the idea for TapGenes after her father became very ill and the family struggled with multiple roadblocks to share his family medical history that impacted his treatment, care, and recovery. Heather made it her mission, if her father got well, to make sure this kind of frightening and desperate episode would not be faced by other families.
Holmes has a background in healthcare marketing. In fact, her entire team comes from various fields of the healthcare profession, including computational genetics.
TapGenes uses the idea of “crowdsourcing” to help families create a more complete and accurate family medical history, online, together. The TapGenes platform identifies medical conditions that may run in their family and helps family members understand what steps they can take to live healthier together.
The six finalists were whittled down from 46 applicants from around the world. They had two minutes to win over the panel of five judges and the audience that their product was the most worthy of support from sponsors.
After each moving presentation, there was a four-minute question and answer period between each contestant and the judges. After all six presentations, the judges selected the top three winners, and the viewing audience selected the People’s Choice Award winner.
With $50,000 in cash and another $50K+ of in-kind prizes and services from sponsors at stake, the pressure, tension, and energy of this event was tremendous.
2016 RootsTech Showdown Winners
- First Place Judges Choice ($20,000 cash, $25,000 in-kind), Heather Holmes of TapGenes.
- Second Place Judges Choice ($14,000 cash, $15,000 in-kind), Studio (by Legacy Republic), Technology hardware and software for digitizing hard copy photo albums.
- Third Place Judges Choice Award ($6,000 cash, $10,000 in-kind), Twile, a web app that populates a visual family timeline with data and media.
- People’s Choice ($10,000 cash), Twile.
This is TapGenes’ second year as an Innovator Showdown contestant. Holmes credits the great exposure from its RootsTech 2015 booth which focused on FamilySearch data sharing integration, and listening to user feedback as key differentiates in advancing from semi-finalist in 2015 to first place in 2016. Holmes said they plan to use the prize winnings to expand TapGenes worldwide to save lives by making family medical history more available internationally.
“It’s surreal,” said Holmes. “When you have a vision of something and you don’t know if it’s going to really happen and it does, it’s like a dream. You hope people are going to love it as much as you do. It’s great to get that confirmation that it resonates with them.”
Holmes says they will use the award money and support to help create TapGenes’ mobile app and to expand locally through additional languages.
The other finalists included Ancestor Cloud, an online marketplace where those with family history needs connect with those who can fill those needs; JRNL, a journaling app for recording memories as they happen; and The History Project , a fun app for creating mixed media digital time capsules of a life.
The judges for the final round included Amy Rees Anderson, Managing Partner, REES Capital; David Bradford, Chairman of the Board of FluentWorlds; Dennis Brimhall, former CEO, FamilySearch International; Judy G. Russell, JD , certified genealogist, The Legal Genealogist, and D. Joshua Taylor, accredited genealogist and host of the Genealogy Roadshow (PBS).
The major sponsors of the Innovator Showdown this year include Sorenson Legacy Foundation, Lenovo, IPOP.org., Grow Utah, Utah Technology Council, David Bradford, Woodbury Corporation, Hero Club, and others.
The Innovator Showdown, only in its second year, was designed to foster innovation in the family history industry.