Old Danish proverb say: everything has an end, except for a sausage, which has two. Like it or not, we all have expiration dates, and since you never know when yours will come around, best to be prepared.
No one likes to think about it, but Everplans is doing something about it. In addition to having raised a second seed round (the company raised nearly $1.4 million last June), they also just launched “Everplan,” a digital platform that helps people create, organize, store, and share all the important documents and information family and loved ones would need, if something should happen. The Everplan allows users to upload wills, life insurance policies, health information, online account info – even personal funeral wishes – and all of the information is encrypted and securely stored in a vault that allows users to control who sees what information and when. The website also has over a thousand articles, guides, and checklists on topics ranging from “8 Signs Your Family Will Fight Over Your Estate” to “What Happens to My Email Accounts When I Die.” Things you don’t think about – until it happens to you, or someone close to you.
Co-investors Scout Ventures, David McCabe, Chair of the Private Clients Group at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLC, and Mark Seelig wrote the checks, and founders Adam Seifer and Abby Schneiderman tell us how they made it happen – again – so quickly.
What was the funding process like?
We were very fortunate. Our first round investors were very excited about Everplans’ progress over the past year and were very quick to step up to participate in this second round. Additionally, based on our past experiences with other successful startups, we were able to work our networks and identify a small handful of angels who had relevant experience in areas key to our business. This allowed us to get much more than just checks from them. We ended up raising a little more than we set out to raise, which was also great for the company. Not only does it add runway, but it creates a sense of momentum that’s great for team morale.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
We were in the process of launching our new product (where anyone can create a customized Everplan that helps them create, organize and securely share important legal, financial and health information in one place so that their family and loved ones can access it when it’s needed) as we were trying to close the round and that’s not always the best timing – some people want to wait to see how the product launch is going to work out.
Also, Everplans sits in a pretty unique convergence of spaces: it overlaps financial services, estate planning, health-care and end-of-life as well as secure document storage. Some investors have a pretty tight focus on certain market segments and didn’t know exactly how to categorize us.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Some of the factors that we believe had an impact were:
– We made a lot of progress since our first round (built and launched new service, generated good traffic momentum, traction on partnerships, good press, attracted strong team, etc.)
– The size of the market opportunity here is unusually large: Massive audience potential (anyone that might die) + lack of existing market leaders + diverse distribution channels (straight to consumer, viral, financial advisors, estate attorneys, health insurers, employee benefits programs, etc.)
– Our product is viral by nature – as each person adds multiple people to his/her Everplan (deputies, guardians, financial advisors, etc.), those people are deeply exposed to our service and end up creating their own Everplans
– We have a great track record building ventures from startup through exit (two of my previous companies sold for $120MM+ and $90MM+)
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
It feels like it’s getting harder and harder to raise money for a concept. So be brave and be agile. Don’t wait for enough funding and enough time to build the ultimate version of your product or service. Call in favors and scramble to get something built and out for real people to use – even if it feels like a small piece of what you know you will eventually create. Market validation and momentum have a way of making funding conversation much more productive.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
– Now that we’ve launched to the public and have thousands of people using the site, we’re getting a lot of feedback and so there are a lot of improvements and enhancements that we’re making to the basic user experience. We’re improving our personalized guidance, adding more areas to store different kinds of information and making it easier to input data.
– We’re adding functionality that will give customers more granular control over the information in their Everplans and how they share it with their family and other important people
– We’re working with partners in financial services and health-care to make it easier for them to offer Everplans to their customers and patients