Cuzins App: Keeping It In The Family

Created by the Fowlke brothers, Cuzins allows you to explore genealogical connections between celebrities, historical figures, and (very soon) yourself.

Based upon our similar athletic abilities, I’ve always assumed that Lebron James and myself are related. And based upon our dual abilities to grow hearty chin-strap beards, I’ve always assumed that Honest Abe and myself are related. Now, both of these assumptions have led to ridicule in my social circles and turned me into an outcast amongst my own friends. Why? Because an app is being created that can easily trace one’s lineage to various celebrities and historical figures, which also means my claims of shared blood between James, Abe, and myself will finally be put to rest.

Two brothers — Josh and Jonathan Fowlke — have spent the last eight months creating Cuzins, the app I mentioned two seconds ago that quickly draws connections between individuals, celebrities, and historical figures. Pulling from complementary individual skillsets — Josh is a UX/UI design expert, Jonathan a developer for the LDS Church — and drawing inspiration from their grandmother’s love for genealogy, the Fowlke brothers have pooled their talents to create something they hope has staying power in the genealogy tech space.

“You have categories — movies, music, television, politics — and inside there are lists of people, just like a list on Facebook,” said Josh. “You click on one and push a button, it shows you how they are related, it shows their common ancestor, and then you can explore the tree between the two individuals. And it’s direct line, nothing like a second cousin’s brother’s half-sister. It’s father-mother, father-mother all the way up to the common ancestor.”

Cuzins pulls information from FamilySearch, a vast reservoir of genealogy data that allows users to trace lineage back to the dawn of time. Instead of pouring through decrepit old scrolls searching for a shared connection between Lebron James and Chris Rawle, I log into Cuzins using FamilySearch and can find out in a matter of seconds. Hint: we probably are not related.

FamilySearch is also the creator of Rootstech, aka the world’s largest genealogy conference. Part of the conference involves a pitch competition — called the Innovator Showdown — where genealogy-based tech startups compete for $100K in cash and prizes later this week. Why am I telling you this? BECAUSE CUZINS IS ONE OF THE TEN FINALISTS. BOOM.

“My brother and I both have an interest in entrepreneurship and startups,” said Josh. “Cuzins tells you how celebrities are related to each other and it will also connect you to your friends, tell you how you are related to them, in a really simple, clean way…It has been very interesting to find these weird and unique connections, like finding out Mitt Romney is related to President Obama.”

With plans to release an open beta in the near future, Cuzins is still in its infant stages. The app currently allows genealogical comparisons between celebrities/historical figures, and Josh and Jonathan are quickly working to add individuals like you and I to the mix. When that happens, each and every one of us will be able to trace celebrity connections to our heart’s content — maybe my extended family really will include Lebron and Honest Abe!

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