This article originally appeared on The Nashville Post.
‘An Alternative To Facebook’
Frederick “Rick” Bryant is founder of Families Connect, a Nashville-based entity that offers a website that allows prompt and easy sharing of, for example, photos, videos, recipes and stories in a controlled visual environment.
Bryant describes the site as a private family blog, of sorts. Users build their personal family pages, then invite friends and/or family members join via a private network.
The concept is still very new, but Bryant has begun digital advertising and is working with influential business people. His focus is on the Nashville and Atlanta markets.
The Post recently chatted with Bryant
You are undertaking this business following a career in the financial industry. Why?
I wanted to create a business that supports the things I most value. Families Connect exists to help people sustain relationships with friends and family. I also wanted to build a business that solves a problem experienced by many people: How do we share memories of the important events in our lives with those who matter most in a private, user-defined environment?
In addition, I wanted the business to take full advantage of the technology revolution we all are enjoying. With communication and connection being low-cost and ubiquitous, Families Connect uses what current technology makes possible in order to meet our customers’ needs. I grew up with friends staying “current” with a single-spaced letter tucked inside a holiday card. Families Connect is a contemporary, digital alternative to that letter.
Do you have plans to grow the product and company?
We have assembled a very capable team of professionals in all critical areas: digital marketing; market research and strategy; public relations; social media marketing; content development; information technology; legal and financial. We operate out of an office at E | Spaces in addition to working remotely.
We do plan for Families Connect to continue to grow. Since a beta version of the product was released about two years ago, we have refined and improved the product (particularly the mobile version) and our marketing approach. In response, we are seeing gratifying growth in users and engagement. We plan to sustain and build upon this momentum.
The Families Connect application is currently free and advertising-supported. However, as part of our growth plan, we are working on a subscription version of the application, which will be ad-free and include other premium features.
Are there businesses similar to Families Connect and from which you have taken cues?
The Families Connect team analyzed the competitive landscape extensively before making the decision to build the product, and we continue to monitor our competitors. The gorilla in the room, of course, is Facebook. We don’t consider Facebook a competitor. In fact, we advertise on Facebook and learn from Facebook. It is helpful for us to position Families Connect as an alternative to Facebook, or a tool to use in addition to Facebook. Notwithstanding Facebook’s incredible popularity, there are things about Facebook users don’t like, according to our preliminary research. Particular concerns include oversharing, posting without permission and unintended views of posts. The Families Connect application addresses these concerns from Facebook users.
I understand you have done a good bit of work with millennials and have found it positive. Thoughts?
While some members of the baby boomer generation have issues working with millennials, I do not. Almost every member of the Families Connect team is a millennial, and I enormously value the contributions from our team. Early on, I decided it was a mistake to trust my instincts about matters directly related to what our users want, how they would use the product and how we should market to them. My millennial colleagues are much more in tune with these issues than I am.
For example, we have relied primarily on digital marketing to promote Families Connect, and digital marketing only came to exist about a decade ago. I’ve found that it is immensely beneficial to have a millennial as my head of digital marketing.
Your daughter, Laura Lea Goldberg, is a Nashville-based holistic chef. What sort of pointers regarding technology have you taken from her?
My daughter has been very successful with her business. We started the two businesses at about the same time, and I have taken pointers from her all along the way. In particular, Laura Lea has been successful with growing her user base through social media, particularly Instagram. I watch and learn from her. Families Connect began promoting our business on Instagram only recently, and I hope to have a portion of the success my daughter enjoys.