Interview with Rutger Bruining, Founder & CEO of StoryTerrace

StoryTerrace helps people to turn their life story into a book. We take care of the whole process – matching them with one of our 600 professional writers, interviews, photo gathering, editing, design and printing – for a fixed price.

Books are on average 100 pages long, meaning that everyone can have their life story – or the life stories of their loved ones – documented in a professionally curated autobiography, biography, or series of memoirs. Customers are able to pick their ghostwriter based on a smart, highly personalised match considering factors such as professional and cultural background, shared experiences, personality and interests.


How did you come up with the idea for the company?


My late grandfather used to tell me incredible stories from his life, including from his time as a member of the Dutch resistance during World War II, as I was growing up. After he passed away, I realised I couldn’t recall the details of the stories that I had imagined so vividly, and I kept thinking to myself, ‘if only I had recorded them’! 

Although my career was in no way related to storytelling or writing, I continued to generate ideas on how to resolve the issue of fading stories of loved ones, which I started to realise was a universal problem. When I realised that due to the changes in the media landscape incredibly experienced writers throughout the world were looking for work on freelancer platforms, I knew a scalable solution was achievable. 



How has the need for StoryTerrace evolved over the past few years?


The need for StoryTerrace has not changed. Sometimes people ask whether we will need a service like ours, as we have so many photos on our phones and so many people post on social media. I’m not sure if the next generation would be too happy if they would have access to all our uncurated photos, videos and posts without the stories, the feelings, the descriptions of turning points and our reflections which form an essential part of a meaningfully captured life story. So the need to know more about the previous generations and the desire to pass one’s life story will always be there. At the same time I do expect the format in which will do so to change over the next decade.

There are so many reasons and motivations behind the projects that we work on with our customers. There are a few common themes that we see on a regular basis, which I would say represent the need for StoryTerrace for the majority of people.

What would you say these themes are?

Bringing together family members and leaving a legacy for future generations are certainly two of the main reasons why customers come to us. Around half of the projects that we work on are gifts, given by a family member to their parents, spouse/ partner or grandparents.

Customers find that, through the process of documenting their life story, they are able to develop much closer relationships with other members of their family by sharing and revelling in all of their highs and lows they have experienced and overcome during the course of their life. They are also extremely happy to have a record of their legacy, which they can give to future generations and develop a connection with grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

We also work on many projects on behalf of people who have experienced some kind of trauma in their lives. Many of our clients find that the process of documenting difficult experiences and the journey coming to terms with them is extremely therapeutic, and often enable the customer to lead happier, healthier lives as a result.

One trend we have observed this year is how the demand for StoryTerrace has increased significantly as a result of the pandemic. Whether it’s a case of more people having more free time in lockdown, feeling lonely and isolated from their families, or simply being forced to face their mortality – there has been a considerable increase in the number of people who have signed up for the StoryTerrace experience this summer.

What can we hope to see from StoryTerrace in the future?


StoryTerrace’s vision is to create a world in which every life story is captured and passed on in a meaningful way. We will continue to scale our current offering: adding more languages, creating more awareness and expanding the features on our platform until it is as common to have your life story recorded as it is to celebrate someone’s life at memorial service.

In terms of our service range, we expect to include voice and moving images as part of our life story offering. Lastly, we are closely tracking new developments that will allow us to create interactive experiences using AI and technology developed in virtual/ augmented reality.
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