4 finalists. 5 renowned judges. 1 large audience. $25k in prizes. Create an app to connect the past with the present.

Do you have what it takes to launch the family history industry forward into the next generation?

FamilySearch is challenging developers from around the globe to go head-to-head and create apps that solve any problem in the family history industry or another business, using family history data and services.

The top 4 finalists will be invited to demo live, onstage, in front of 2,500+ attendees at RootsTech in Salt Lake City, Utah, where a panel of renowned judges and the audience will decide the winners! Many will enter, but only one app can take home up to $15,000 in total cash prizes and a ton of publicity. Will it be yours?

Get started now by registering now and reading the requirements below. Afterwards, head to the Resources page for app ideas and data!

View full rules


This challenge is open to Individuals (who have reached the age of majority in their jurisdiction of residence at the time of entry); Teams of eligible individuals; and Organizations (up to 50 employees).


Content: Your submission must solve a problem you’ve identified in the family history industry, or in another industry vertical using family history data or services. Check out the Resources page for some problem ideas!

Platforms: Your submission must include a software component such as:

  • a native smartphone or tablet app (iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile)
  • a web app or subscription service
  • a desktop app (Windows PC, Mac Desktop)
  • software running on other hardware (including, but not exclusive to, wearable technology, open source hardware, etc.)
  • custom hardware which includes a software component (wearable technology, etc.)

Supplemental Material: You must submit a demo video (hosted on YouTube, Vimeo, or Youku) that walks through the main functionality of the app via screencast or video. You must also submit at least one image/screenshot of your working app. 

If you’re a finalist you’ll also need to prepare a 5-minute pitch to deliver to the judges and audience (including a demo, business model, etc.) Pro Tip: Use your submission demo video to as a draft of your finalist pitch, just don’t forget to demo your app!

Testing: You must make your app available for no charge to judges for evaluation during the judging periods.

How to enter

  1. Click “Register” to sign up for important challenge communications.
  2. Visit the Resources page to learn about the some potential problem areas and available data/API resources
  3. Review the judging criteria.
  4. Create your app!
  5. Shoot your demo video and take screenshots of your functioning app.
  6. Provide a way for us to access your app. 
  7. Get started on your draft and submit early!


Amy Rees Anderson

Amy Rees Anderson
Managing Partner, REES Capital; Contributor, Forbes and The Huffington Post

A.J. Jacobs

A.J. Jacobs
Founder of The Global Family Reunion, New York Times bestselling author, NPR commentator and editor at large at Esquire magazine

Curt B. Witcher

Curt B. Witcher
MLS, FUGA, IGSF, Senior Manager of The Genealogy Center and Digital Initiatives, Allen County Public Library

Jay Verkler

Jay Verkler
Advisor and Corporate Consultant, The Verkler Group; Former CEO, FamilySearch International

Dan Mano

Dan Mano
Vice President of Business Development, MyHeritage

Judging Criteria

  • Quality of Idea
    Includes creativity, originality, and “wow” factor of the idea.
  • Implementation of Idea
    Includes how well the idea was executed by the developer.
  • Potential Impact
    Will users get excited about this? Is it applicable? Does it solve a genuine problem?
  • MVP Status
    Preference will be given to innovations where there is a minimum viable product (MVP) and are closer to delivery for real-world use.
  • Relation to Family History Activities
    Preference will be given to ideas that directly or indirectly relate to family history activities (including photos, stories, DNA, social media, etc.), or use family history data.