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Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 5/10/16. Christopher Cummings, founder of Pass It Down, speaks about his storytelling product while at the Camp House in downtown Chattanooga on Tuesday, May 10, 2016.
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Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 5/10/16. Christopher Cummings, founder of Pass It Down, speaks about his storytelling product while at the Camp House in downtown Chattanooga on Tuesday, May 10, 2016.

Chattanooga startup Pass It Down is in the running to win $200,000 in a national innovation competition that another local startup, Bellhops, won in 2014.

First, though, it will have to beat four other startups in a regional pitch competition Thursday in Atlanta.

Miller Lite Tap the Future had more than 10,000 applicants, a spokesman for the contest said. Only 30 made it to regional competitions in six cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and Philadelphia.

The winner of each regional competition gets $20,000 and advances to the final round in Chicago in September.

The contest's judges include Daymond John, founder of FUBU and a co-star of ABC television's Shark Tank.

"Pass It Down's selection is validation that people around the world need help capturing and preserving their family memories and stories," said the company's CEO and founder Christopher Cummings.

The startup offers a free digital storytelling platform that lets users create personal stories by using photos, text, audio and one-minute videos. It also might offer a subscription model for longer videos.

The company was founded in spring 2015, but doesn't plan to launch until November. Meanwhile, it's been in a private beta phase. More than 1,000 people have tried the app, Cummings said.

Cummings, 29, created the company after seeing dementia rob his mother of her ability to recall memories. He wanted a way to let people spark conversations about their lives, and then preserve those tales.

Pass It Down allows users to create stories using a phone, tablet or computer. They can keep stories private or share them publicly. One of the service's unique features is that it gives users prompts to create stories. The startup plans to make money through sponsored-content models that circle around storytelling.

Winning Tap the Future would allow Pass It Down to "bring in more great talent" and increase marketing efforts for its fall launch, Cummings said. It recently added Ted Finch as its chief marketing officer. Finch, based in Austin, reports having launched more than 400 products for more than 150 vendors, including Microsoft, Adobe and Intel. Pass It Down's chief technology officer is Rodger Maarfi.

Cummings said the company raised $235,000 in its seed round and plans to seek another $500,000 to $750,000 in the coming months.

Pass It Down recently won the Audience Choice award at the Aging2.0 Austin Global Startup Search pitch event.

Contact Mitra Malek at mmalek@timesfreepress.com or mitramalek.com.

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