“Most of the time, technology is anti-personal; it drives us apart. …the intimacy inherent in family relationships requires a focus on privacy that is largely absent in today’s online world. It also requires a loving human touch that technology, by itself, cannot replicate.”
Here’s my profile of FamilyArc from the September 2015 issue of MinistryTech magazine.
Over the past several months, we’ve discussed what it means to be a startup (in business or ministry) and defined a startup this way: a new venture working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed. We’ve also discussed what it means to be an entrepreneur, and specifically a Christian entrepreneur, which we defined as: a person, driven to glorify God in all he does, and ruled by the Word of God, who starts a new venture and is willing to risk a loss in order to achieve the success of the venture.
Over the past couple of months I’ve started introducing you to specific startups and Christian entrepreneurs. Some of these ventures and people may be ones that can help your church, ministry, family, or business, but my main intent is to encourage, inspire, and educate you as I hope you too will be growing as a Christian entrepreneur.
This month I’d like to introduce you to Chad Meyer and FamilyArc.
First Came Fellowship One
Today, Chad Meyer is CTO of FamilyArc, but back in 2004, Chad was a young man who was greatly blessed to be one of the original developers at Fellowship Technologies. Working on the Fellowship One church management system provided Chad not only the opportunity to grow in his skills writing software for highly scalable web-based platforms and as a manager, but also to be part of a Christian startup and part of a team leaning on their faith as they grew from almost nothing to a fast-growing small business and finally part of a larger company.
In 2013, as the Fellowship family was going through changes with it’s incorporation into ACTIVE network, Chad’s own family was going through changes, with the impending birth of their first child. Chad and his wife prayerfully considered how God would use their gifts and talents. Chad felt called to start his own company.
The Birth of BeFamily
With fatherhood looming, God placed on Chad’s heart a growing appreciation for family and stories that cross generations. About the same time, fellow Christian entrepreneur, Ray Gary, shared with Chad about a road trip he took with his grandfather and how special it was to hear stories from his life, dating back to World War II and before. Gary had never heard these precious memories before, and, as delighted as he was to hear them, it saddened him to think that his children and grandchildren likely would never have the same opportunity. Hearing Gary’s experience helped crystalize for Chad an opportunity to use his technology skills to help families capture those stories.
From that seed, BeFamily sprouted – an online digital media platform for preserving family memories. While still working at ACTIVE, Chad started building the platform and developing the business model. Working nights and weekends, while also managing the transitions in his growing family, stretched Chad. He’s thankful to God for using these experiences to grow and shape him.
From BeFamily to FamilyArc
When I talked to Chad, it was clear that his passion is for bringing families together. Most of the time, technology is anti-personal; it drives us apart. As he worked on BeFamily, his vision became more clear and he realized that the intimacy inherent in family relationships requires a focus on privacy that is largely absent in today’s online world. It also requires a loving human touch that technology, by itself, cannot replicate. Launching BeFamily provided the opportunity to see what worked and what didn’t and to learn from people what they are really looking for when capturing family stories, images, and videos.
After 6 months of developing BeFamily, Brian Patrick Donaghy joined with Chad in this mission. As CEO Brian brought fresh perspectives and new direction. I asked Chad if this was a “pivot,” like most startups go through and he said that it was more. It was a fresh start. Chad rebuilt the entire technology platform and Brian built a team to more fully address the needs of their client families, including curators, editors, biographers, photographers, videographers, and consultants. With this new direction, the company also took on a new name – FamilyArc. According to their website “At FamilyArc, we believe that sharing family memories connects current and future generations. Our private digital archive platform allows your family’s history to be captured beautifully and securely for years to come.”
How is Chad a Christian Entrepreneur?
When you visit FamilyArc’s website, you won’t see any references to God or Jesus or the Bible. There’s no explicit focus on Christian families. So, why have I included them in this article series? I do believe that Chad is operating as a Christian entrepreneur, serving all kinds of families in a God honoring way.
The family is one of the foundational elements that God uses in his redemptive work. God instituted the family in Genesis 1, and throughout the Bible He uses family relationships (e.g. God as our heavenly Father, the church as Christ’s bride) to reflect our relationship with Him. I believe that Satan focuses so heavily on destroying the strength, integrity, and even definition of the family because of how powerfully God can use families. Chad said that, even non-believers, as their hearts are softened through family love, get a sense of God’s love, and may become more open to spiritual truth.
Chad and other Christian leaders at FamilyArc actively incorporate prayer into their daily lives, and they seek how to best love God and love their neighbor when making business decisions. But to me, the most clear demonstration of how Chad and other believers at the company are different as Christian entrepreneurs from others is in their attitude towards their decisions. They make a decision and move forward with confidence. As Chad explained, “either God will make it successful, because He’s the one in control, not us, or He won’t, but he’ll use it for our growth and His glory.”
In talking to Chad, I sensed something that you don’t expect from a technology entrepreneur – a focus on humility and love. Reflecting on the famous love passage in 1 Corinthians 13, I think all of us entrepreneurs could benefit from considering how to apply this truth to our startup journey: “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”