DURHAM, N.C. – About two years ago, Jeffrey Gray, co-founder and CEO of Noteables.com, decided it was time to pull the trigger on starting a company based on an idea he had been tweaking.

“I was sick of not taking that step,” Gray says.

So he sent a text message to his long-time friend Jordan Shamp, a former colleague at Triangle-based email marketing firm, I-Contact. They met in Jordan’s garage where he was hanging shelves in 101-degree heat.

“We had a beer and I explained the idea,” Gray remembers.

He told me that he was tired of the way people were using social networks without making real connections, Shamp notes.

“People use social networks as a soapbox and don’t post anything of substance,” Gray says. His idea: build a platform people can use to create collaborative memories. He wanted something like a “digital campfire,” where people “share meaningful experiences.”

His passion for the idea of creating something more authentic than what current social networks and apps offer sold Shamp. Last month, they launched their site Noteables.com at the South by Southwest V2V Conference in Las Vegas.

They contracted development work and use Amazon’s cloud service to host the site. The company includes, in addition to Gray and Shamp, designer Randall Rozzell, another former I-Contact employee.

The free site offers memory prompts to get users started, such as “What was your funniest memory of the fourth grade?” Both an Android and an Apple IOS app are in the works.

The main game early on, says Shamp, “is to tap into our own community, friends, family and business relationships.”

Eventually, they plan to offer premium services. But, as Shamp notes, they need to acquire a significant number of users before monetization or any attempts to raise venture funds. The next step, he says, will be to use Gray’s digital marketing expertise to help them mount a social media marketing campaign. “That can be very powerful,” Shamp says.

Currently a virtual firm, the company plans to operate from a renovated 1981 Airstream trailer several days a week with info on the sides “So people can come up and talk to us,” Shamp says. “We’ll use it as a noticeable local billboard.”

While there are competitors in the market, Gray says most are basically just journals. He says his research suggests “we’re really carving out our own space.”

“I say this because most of what I’ve found are apps and websites for keeping a digital journal,” he explains. “We’re really trying to build a company about making meaning of life and not just another app. We believe it starts with a web and mobile presence, and we want to build it out from there as the market determines. The second reason I think we’re really carving out or own niche is because we have built a social element, that takes away from the journaling element and makes documenting the memories of our lives a collaborative piece.”

“We don’t come with the attitude of “if you build it, they will come,” Gray goes on. “We want to work hard to get our users and work harder to keep them coming back and make it really fun and easy for the user to capture memories in Noteables. We’ve built Noteables so that usage increases exponentially. For example, if I create one note with 10 co-authors tagged, the site has automatically built content for 10 account holders, not just one.

“Now,” he continues, “10 people have gotten a notification that they have a new memory added from a co-author and because we built Noteables to be collaborative, they can all interact with that note as if it were their own note, add their own version of that memory, add their pictures to the shared album.”

They’re currently tracking site usage so they can gain insight into how people use it in order to promote various features they hope will lead to exponential growth.

The founders also are looking at a variety of regional resources and such as NC Idea grants and “the CED and the people they can connect you with.”

Expect to see them demo the platform at more conferences, too, Shamp adds.