We are the Fowlke brothers. While rarely pronounced correctly our last name has always meant a lot to us. It carries a great deal of meaning and history with it. Our grandmother on our father’s side instilled in us a reverence for the name. It’s not just a name, she would remind us, it’s a representation of all of the men and women who came before you. Their lives and their stories trickled down to you and are what made you who you are today. We can confidently state that it is because of our grandma that we have such a fascination with our ancestry.

Having an interest in ancestry and entrepreneurship and both of us having a job in the tech industry, we decided to create an app. One of us, Joshua, is a UI/UX designer at a software company here in Utah and the other, Jonathan, is an Software Engineer for the LDS church. We recognized our combined talents and interests were a great recipe for building an app, so we went to work.

Our grandma spent years collecting and sharing stories of our famous and not-so-famous ancestors; famous ancestors like President Abraham Lincoln and General Lee or not as well known ancestors like Ephraim K. Hanks; mountain-man, pioneer, adventurer. The excitement we felt when we heard these stories of our famous ancestors is what inspired us to create the Cuzins app.

Cuzins is an app that will show you how you’re related to celebrities, living and dead, how celebrities are related to each other, and also how you’re related to friends, co-workers, or even spouses. Not going to lie, it was a little awkward to discover we were both related to our wives.

So after several months of planning, designing, and coding we created a functioning prototype. At times it was frustrating and sometimes felt like we were slogging up a hill, in the snow, barefoot (just like how dad use to go to school everyday, or so he tells us). Getting familysearch production data was difficult, learning how to write android code was often challenging, and spending time outside of our full-time jobs was, at times, exhausting. But it was also very exciting to have breakthroughs, to make this software and see that it actually worked, to make connections and find funny and bizarre combinations that confirmed to us that we’re all just one big family. In the end all of the frustrations and hard work were worth it to see that Tupac and Joseph Smith are cousins.

We have lots of ambition for future features and for where we’d like to see the app go. Using celebrities, good design and social marketing we want to go after a younger demographic. We feel, like us, that younger people are interested in their past and their relatives but up until now there hasn’t been an easy-to-use app aimed at making ancestry and relation finding engaging and fun. We want to change that.

We wish Grandma Fowlke were around today to see and use this app. We think she’d be proud of us and the work we’ve done and hopefully feel we did the Fowlke name proud.

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