JustFamily Introduces a Social Network for Families

September 18, 2012

11:00 am

An orphan raised by a blacksmith in the Mountain West, Nate Quigley’s grandfather grew up to become a forest ranger. At his funeral, they played a recording of him singing “Home on the Range,” which he used to sing at family reunions. “It was one of those really powerful moments,” says Quigley.

“Home on the Range” has since become the Quigley family lullaby. But somehow, the recording from the funeral disappeared. “That just gnawed at me,” Quigley recalls. “I really wanted to be able to play it for my kids.”

To make sure that never happened again, Quigley built a place online where his family could share and preserve memories. For years, they’ve been posting weekly journal entries and passing around photos online. “I don’t think we could survive without it,” Quigley admits.

He started working full-time last year to bring that experience to other families. Now, they can share updates, photos, and videos on JustFamily, a social networking website and iOS app. It even works for relatives who aren’t tech-savvy, like Quigley’s father-in-law – “The Internet is Microsoft Outlook for him,” Quigley explains. They can get updates by email and comment just by hitting “Reply.”

Quigley and his team of seven want JustFamily to feel like a conversation around the kitchen table, or a backyard barbecue on Sunday night. It’s supposed to be a private place where families can connect without being bombarded by advertisements or rants about Romney and Obama. Services like Path (for close friends and family) and FamilyLeaf are trying to do the same thing, but there is no household name yet for social networking for families.

“Family, for lots of us, is the most important social circle we’ve got,” says Quigley.

A few years after the funeral, Quigley finally found his grandfather’s recording – one of his cousins had held onto it, and it turned up after she passed away. And now it’s up on JustFamily, just where it belongs.

Quigley and his large family

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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