Mocavo, one of the many companies backed by 500 Startups, is a genealogical search engine similar to Ancestry.com, and is also counted as an alumnus of the TechStars Boulder accelerator program, which it completed in 2011. Mocavo boasts an index of more than 6 billion names, and offers some handy tools for those looking to research their ancestry.
The Free Version: ‘Mocavo Basic’
One of the selling points for Mocavo seems to be its ability to automatically index records that can be accessed free-of-charge. Whereas some of their competitor’s genealogical search tools bring up a whole bunch of results which then require payment before users can actually access the information, Mocavo looks for all the freebies. The service itself is offered via 2 packages: “Mocavo Basic,” which is totally free; and “Mocavo Plus,” which is currently being offered as a 14-day free trial, but then goes to $59.95 for a year’s membership.
While completing my research on the company, I signed up for the free version – and even though it doesn’t cost anything, it still seemed pretty useful – not to mention fun. Just type in your name and the name of the person you’re searching for, and a number of interesting things pop up, like pictures of gravestones, death certificates, newspaper articles, and other stuff along those lines. Users can also upload their own documents and family tree-related information using the free version. The “Plus” version includes all of that – but also provides some additional tools to help find what you’re looking for.
The Paid Version: ‘Mocavo Plus’
Mocavo Plus includes some advanced search parameters like the ability to search by nicknames and alternates (so that if you search for “James,” for instance, you’ll also be searching for “Jimmy;” incorrect spelling compensation (so that records with misspelled names will still be included in the results); and also the ability to search by county instead of simply searching by city. Users of the paid version can also add a dated “event” to help narrow-down the results, and even take advantage of Mocavo’s automated email notification system, whereby the service will keep searching for relevant records even when users aren’t on the site. It then sends discovery alerts to their chosen inbox, when it finds something potentially useful. Mocavo also “zooms in” on important areas of documents, and highlights the relevant info – a feature that I’m sure could wind up being a real time-saver for people who’re fed up with sifting through mountains of irrelevant information.
Mocavo also offers a free (except for the shipping costs) document scanning service for things of historical significance. Users can mail their historical books, family tree documents, etc. to the company; and they’ll scan them and upload the materials to the web. Credit for the materials is given to those who utilize the scanning service, and the company provides a link from which the content can be downloaded.
The company was founded in 2010, and according to AngelList, the following people have earned credit for its foundation: CEO Cliff Shaw, CTO Richard K. Miller, and Art Director Andy Stone. Shaw has a lot of experience in the field of genealogy . . . experience which includes 3 previous ancestry-centric companies he founded: GenForum (which was acquired by A&E Television Networks), Pearl Street Software (which was acquired by MyHeritage), and BackUpMyTree (which was also acquired by MyHeritage). Mocavo is based in Boulder, Colorado.
Mocavo has raised a total of $5 million in funding over the course of 2 rounds. Their seed round fetched $1 million from a list of investors which includes Dave McClure (of 500 Startups), David Cohen (of Bullet Time Ventures), David Bonderman, David Calone, Troy Henikoff, and Dave Carlson. That’s a whole bunch of “Davids,” right there! That initial round was followed by a series A in which Mocavo received $4 million from Foundry Group. As part of the deal, Foundry Group’s Seth Levine joined Mocavo’s board. In 2012, Mocavo made an acquisition of its own, by purchasing a company called ReadyMicro, which specializes in the digitization of documents.
If you’re interested in doing a little research toward finding out more about your family history . . . or if you’re just bored and want to mess around with the idea, check out mocavo.com.