Andrew Hall and Jeremy Bryant like to keep busy.
In recent years, they’ve founded Mealshare, won a Small Business BC Award, and earned prestigious placing on BC Business’ “30 Under 30” list of entrepreneurs. If that roster of achievements wasn’t enough, they’ve now turned their attention to a new startup, No Story Lost.
This fledgling business takes treasured family memories and turns them into a beautiful coffee table book for the whole family to enjoy. No longer will these memories fade as older family members pass away. Instead, they are preserved in a thoughtful package that also contains the original audio recordings from the interviews.
We sat down with co-founder Andrew Hall to learn more about this unique, BC-based startup.
Where did the idea for No Story Lost come from?
Jeremy and I are cousins who grew up in Calgary. That’s how we ended up starting Mealshare together. About three or four years into Mealshare, once the project was in a stable place, we started thinking we might want to collaborate on another project. So, we started building out a list. We always kept a list of business ideas, and some criteria for the types of businesses we wanted to work on.
Around that time, Jeremy’s dad was unfortunately diagnosed with cancer. They went off on a trip together and Jeremy found some questions online you can ask a parent to get to know them better. One of the questions was, ‘if your life was a story, what would the title be?’
In a bit of a coincidence, I was interviewing our grandpa about his life because he’s widely regarded as such a storyteller in our family. I was furiously typing out these stories as he spoke and some of the tales, they were fascinating.
We came together and realized there are millions of these stories from over the years that have just disappeared as people have passed away. So many of us have these amazing relatives that have lived these incredible lives that don’t get captured in any way. With that realization, we decided we wanted to build a product or service that would make it really easy for families to capture these stories and allow them to live on forever.
From there, we started piecing together what the business model might look like.
How does the No Story Lost process work?
We have our No Story Lost website. You click there, select one of our packages, and once you’ve checked out, we take over and lead you through the whole process. We begin by setting up phone interviews with the storyteller. A package might have two, four or six of those interviews. We record them, transcribe them and write them into a chronological book. We tidy up the copy to ensure it makes sense and reads well. For the most part, we try to keep it in the voice of the person who told the story. We want you to hear that person’s voice when you’re reading off the page.
Then, when we send the manuscript back to the family to have a look to make sure the small details are all correct. Once it’s gone through that check, we’ll then design and print off a beautiful coffee table book books and send it to the family. We also include the audio pieces and the rough transcripts too. It’s a whole package! At the end, the family receives a really cool keepsake.
What type of customers have you been seeing so far?
The most common we’ve seen so far is people buying for an older relative’s birthday, so a 70th or a 75th – any sort of special time where a person has lived a good portion of their life and are settling down to reflect. These people still have the ability to tell really rich stories and they’re still sharp so it’s a sweet spot for storytelling.
We’ve also had one person who was 85 and he found out about us through a friend and bought his own project. Going through the process with him has been really cool, he’s a super interesting guy with so many great stories to tell.
We’ve also had one really interesting project where someone wanted to tell the story of her three-year-old child and his life so far. Due to COVID, they haven’t been able to travel to see his grandma so they’re going to fill the book with stories of a little guy growing up and send it to grandma to fill in the gaps.
How are you juggling the competing demands of running Mealshare and No Story Lost?
With the public health situation around COVID-19, 2020 was a really quiet year for Mealshare and it created a bit of space for us to consider other projects. Alongside that, we’re not really a startup any more. I wouldn’t say we’re a mature business, but we’re eight years old now and there’s that little bit more stability. I shudder to think about trying to manage two pure startups right now. That would be extremely challenging!
As a mature business, I know my day-to-day with Mealshare now and I try to prioritize work-life balance and ensure we’re actually living our lives instead of just working. We’ve managed to find a good balance so far, but I’m lucky in that I’m a person who really likes variety so the change has been enjoyable.
I’m excited to keep trying new things and I’m sure, down the road, we’ll look at some other business ideas in future but nothing any time soon. Two is enough!
What are some of your favourite small businesses in BC?
I’ve got to be a bit biased here and go with my girlfriend’s production company, Boldly. They’re a Small Business BC Award winner and a film production company working out of Vancouver, BC.
Alongside that, in our work at Mealshare I’ve learned how dedicated and hard-working restaurant owners are. What a struggle they’ve gone through this last year and it’s so impressive so many of them are still open and still kicking. There’s so much grit and creativity in that industry, and I have nothing but respect for them.
Restaurants are such an intrinsic part of the fabric of our city here in Vancouver. I think we can all agree we don’t want to live in a city where all we have are chain restaurants.
I’d also love to shout out Shine Bootcamp (Stef, one of the Founders helped get No Story Lost off the ground), Fable Home dining ware (Max is a beauty), Elysium Retreat (by Derek from Mealshare) and Rootside Provisions over in Victoria for bespoke cocktail mixers.
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We respectfully acknowledge our place of work is within the ancestral, traditional and unceded territories of the Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ilwətaʔɬ/sel̓ílwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and that we serve the Peoples of the many Nations throughout British Columbia.