Farewill, the UK’s startup which claims to be best-rated death experts and also winner of the 2019 National Will Writing Firm of the Year has announced that it has raised £20 million (€22.1 million), led by growth-stage experts Highland Europe.
Founded in 2015, Farewill is transforming the outdated death industry and its expensive, complex processes – many of which haven’t changed for more than 150 years – using technology and design.
Inspired by experiences at the Royal College of Art, CEO Dan Garrett set out to make death – a topic that’s long been taboo – easier for people to tackle. Alongside Co-founder Tom Rogers, previously of Boomf, the pair have overhauled the way people write a will, deal with probate and arrange a funeral.
Rather than using technology for technology’s sake, their team thinks of customers first. The platform simplifies complex processes, avoids legal jargon, and does away with hidden fees – removing unnecessary friction at a time when people feel at their most vulnerable. Users are guided through a series of questions, all navigated online at their convenience, and a team of in-house specialists are available seven days a week when customers need to speak directly. The cost and time benefits are clear:
- With Farewill it takes just 15 minutes to write a will, an average of 24 hours to get the document checked (versus weeks with a traditional solicitor), and it costs from £90 – half the UK average.
- On the probate side, instead of hitting people with spiralling costs – which can be as much as 5% of an estate’s value, plus £800+ to get the grant of probate – Farewill charges a single, fixed fee starting at £595. An application takes seven days, compared to the UK average of three weeks.
- Farewill direct cremations start from £980, whereas the average UK cremation costs £3,250. When combined with other fees, the total cost of dying typically soars above £10,000 in the UK, forcing 1 in 8 families into funeral poverty.
As a result of these benefits, Farewill is now the highest-rated death expert in the UK with a five-star, Excellent TrustPilot rating of 4.9, taken from more than 6,000 reviews. (Please see the notes section for examples of customer testimonials.)
The organisation is the largest will writer in the UK, responsible for 1 in 10 wills, and became National Will Writer of the Year at the 2019 British Wills and Probate Awards. After launching its direct cremation service last year, it helped more families within two months than the average funeral home serves in a year, becoming the UK’s fastest-growing funeral provider. More recently it won ‘best social innovation’ at the 2020 Europas, joining the ranks of previous award winners including Spotify, Babylon Health, TransferWise and Soundcloud.
The existing issues around the cost and complex, outdated processes surrounding death have been thrown into sharp relief in the wake of COVID-19. Farewill data shows 94% of people who have lost a loved one to coronavirus found administrative tasks negatively affected during recent times. 40% found it difficult to register the event due to lockdown restrictions, and 39% said that dealing with pensions, tax and probate was almost impossible. Almost a third (27%) reported that the companies they needed to speak to were closed, and 24% were told services were ‘on hold’.
This latest round of funding sees Highland Europe, alongside Keen Ventures, Rich Pierson of Headspace, Broadhaven Ventures, and Venture Founders join previous investors – among them Augmentum Fintech, Taavet Hinrikus (TransferWise) and Kindred Capital. It takes the total raised so far to £30m.
Dan said, “Dealing with death is one of the hardest parts of life, and we started Farewill to take some of the pain out of the process. The latest investment from Highland Europe shows their conviction in our vision for fairer, more transparent services in this space. It means we can build on what we’ve started, growing our world-class team and designing easy-to-use tools that help people during incredibly tough times. We’ll also carry on raising millions in pledged legacy income for the third sector, and we’re aiming to get to £1 billion by 2023. There’s a real need for change in this industry and we’re really proud to be leading it.”
“How about entirely removing the administrative pain for those grieving for their loved ones? How about providing an affordable, effortless and considerate service? That’s what the Farewill team is doing – with an extraordinary blend of compassion and tech-fueled efficiency,” said Stan Laurent, Partner at Highland Europe and previous Chief Executive of PhotoBox, the photo-printing consumer company that also owned Moonpig.
“For too long, the wills and funeral industry has been largely geared towards profit over purpose. Since our first meeting with Dan, we knew that Farewill had the ingredients to radically disrupt the industry. We’re excited to back them as they broaden their ambition.”
Tim Levene, CEO of Augmentum Fintech, said, “Farewill has made phenomenal progress since our initial investment 18 months ago. They have grown by 10x and launched a suite of successful new products. This additional capital will provide further opportunity for the company to innovate an archaic industry, and become the leading digital platform in death services.”
Tracy Doree, Chair of the Board at Farewill, added “This latest achievement is testament to the calibre of the team, the culture they’re building, and the approach they’re taking. In an industry that’s still relatively untouched by technology, the opportunity to drive meaningful change and fix problems remains vast. It’s exciting to see the first consumer brand in this space take off. ”
The investment will be used to fund expansion in the UK, as well as ongoing service improvement and product innovation.
— Press release
Main image credits: Farewill
The post This startup wants to transform UK’s over-priced death industry using technology, raises €22.1M funding appeared first on Silicon Canals .
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a proverbial wrench in the day-to-day lives of company founders. For weeks on end, you’ve likely been juggling Zoom meetings, school schedules, family check-ins, squeezing in a workout, time for your significant other and, oh right, keeping your business afloat.
Those projects and tasks you used to whip through are now taking just a little bit longer to complete. OK, a lot longer! And that’s OK. More than ever, your time, energy and focus are precious commodities. When you are able to carve out time to work on your business, there are so many priorities competing for your attention.
So, how do you make the most of the precious time you dedicate to your business?
When budgets are shrinking and marketing dollars are evaporating, it’s time to focus on high ROI activities — the ones that cost the least and produce the most benefit. Networking is on the top of that list, and here’s why: virtual networking is free and offers huge upside potential.
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Why now is the perfect time to network
Schedules are more malleable than usual, as folks are working from home and there’s more flexibility naturally built into their days. Plus, people are yearning for connection now more than ever before. All of these factors make it easier to find a time to connect.
For many, the mere mention of the word “networking” conjures up images of the typical networking scenario: a room full of strangers followed by awkward conversation that leads nowhere.
That’s not the kind of networking we’re talking about. We’re talking about intentional, purpose-driven relationship building.
As the co-founders of Women’s Business League, we’ve had a front row seat to the power of smart, strategic networking. We’ve seen it transform businesses and enrich lives, and done right (even from a distance!), entrepreneurs can achieve a reliable stream of high-quality clients from networking.
Here’s our best advice on how to network well, even during a crisis:
Have a plan
As with all things in business, having a plan allows you to achieve your desired results quicker. Start with the end goal in mind.
First, your goal is to build out a network of strategic referral partners, including other businesses that service your ideal client. Second, your goal is also to create a network of professionals who provide the expertise that your business needs but is outside your zone of genius.
Start by considering what other companies or branding professionals service your ideal client. Ask yourself, “What are the businesses that my ideal client visits before they seek my services?” To go a bit deeper, ask yourself, “Who provides goods or services to my client right before they need my expertise?”
For example, if you’re a wedding planner, your list might include an engagement photographer, jeweler, insurance agent and beauty salon. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and jot down your list. Voila! There’s your starting point for referral sources.
Now, your job is to seek out and connect with folks in the industries you just listed. The key is to find businesses that offer the same level of exceptional client service as you do. Even better if you can identify companies that target clients at the same price point and demographic as you. That way, you’ll be well positioned to take exceptional care of any clients they send your way. And, you’ll set yourself up to work with clients who are in your ideal market.
At this point, you may be asking yourself, “Where do I find these folks?” Start with who you know. For example, if you’re looking to connect with engagement photographers, reach out to friends who recently got engaged. Ask them who they used and if they were happy with their service. If their answer is yes, ask them if they would be willing to make an introduction.
If you’re coming up short, utilize LinkedIn, which has a powerful search tool to find local professionals within your industry. When you reach out, be sure to let these individuals know who you are and why you’re interested in networking with them.
Your “A team”
You can use a similar approach to build out your personal network of professionals who can directly help you and your business. Pick up that pen again and ask yourself, “What are the services that my business needs that are outside my area of expertise?”
Your list might include accounting, banking, legal, social media and so on. Prioritize your list based on the immediate needs of your business to best serve your customers. Pursue connections in those industries, and plan to interview two to three professionals in each category to see who is the best fit for your company’s needs and falls within your budget.
Join a community
An effective way to expand your network amidst social distancing mandates is to join a virtual networking community. The key is to find a digital village that aligns with your values. Be sure to assess the mission, priorities and objectives of the group before joining. Make sure it’s a good fit for you personally and professionally, and once you’ve joined, go all in. Attend the live video meetings, make time for the recorded webinars and schedule time for one-on-one Zoom coffee dates. The more you show up for the community, the more the community will show up for you.
Once you’ve established connections, nurture these new relationships consistently over time. Always lead with generosity, and offer connections, opportunities, resources and client referrals as often as you can.
When networking, remember to take an interest in the other person’s business. Listen and pay special attention to what’s important to him or her personally and professionally. Let them know that you care. Establish a true connection grounded in mutual understanding, trust and kindness, because where connection grows, business flows.
A well-established network is a business generator, connection facilitator and collaboration incubator. Networking can be an absolute game changer, even (and especially) amidst a pandemic.
The post How Smart, Strategic Networking Can Transform Your Business During a Crisis appeared first on StartupNation.