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In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs who are out there doing business battle on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Who are you and what’s your business?
I am Jack Hamilton, founder of KindredBox.com, an end of life planning software. We help individuals and families prepare for the unexpected by organizing and securely storing information needed when they pass away. If something happened to you tomorrow, would your spouse, children or others know where to find your important information? Would they know who to contact? Would they know your final wishes and funeral requests? We know these are not always the easiest things to discuss, but it is more difficult to leave your loved ones without having a plan.
What makes your product unique?
Our team of developers, designers and storage/security experts created a simple format that our users can complete quickly and is focused on 4 main areas to help pick up the pieces after a loss.
1. People to contact (insurance agent, accountant, financial planner, neighbor, etc.)
2. Accounts (digital/social, utilities, financial, etc.)
3. Important documents (will & trust, insurance policies, tax returns, etc.)
4. After I’m gone (letters to loved ones, final wishes, care instructions for pets, etc.)
Most importantly, the above information is securely stored and only shared with those you designate access to once your death has been validated.
What inspired you to create this product? What was your “aha moment”?
In January 2014, I was in a meeting with a dozen CEOs discussing what our families would do if we didn’t make it home that day. Not one person in the room had clearly documented their important information in an accessible way for their family. Since that day I have lost a number of close friends and family unexpectedly. Each passing left their immediate family scrambling for information. I created KindredBox to help families avoid this painful process during what is already a very difficult time in their life. Knowing how easy and important this process is now, I truly believe that it is irresponsible of us not to have a plan in place for our family.
What advice would you give entrepreneurs looking for funding?
Start local (when possible) and expand from there. I found that investors like to support companies located in their backyard. Also, look for investors who are interested in your space. They will feel more comfortable and you will get more value from them as they can help with connections and experience.
What’s your advice for preparing for a pitch?
Put yourself in the investor’s shoes and think about what is most important to them. Keep it short and focus on what makes you and your business solve an issue that others are willing to pay for. Highlight your team and make sure your potential investor is confident in the people building the company. Lastly, do your homework… know your numbers and your competition.
What has been your biggest challenge during the pandemic and how did you pivot to overcome it?
Death has typically been a topic most like to avoid discussing. We are unfortunately living in a world where we see death in every other news headline. For us, the pandemic has created more awareness around end of life planning and we are seeing a big surge in new customers.
What does the word “entrepreneur” mean to you?
My definition of “entrepreneur” is the exchange of risk and hard work for the opportunity to control your own future.
Describe your company culture and how you helped shape it.
Company culture during a pandemic is a challenge for obvious reasons. Our culture is based on collaboration, positivity and empathy. All three of these have been crucial during a crazy year!
Is there a particular quote or saying that you use as personal motivation? Explain how it inspires you.
“Work hard and be nice to people.” These are two things that I know I can control every day. I don’t want to look back on my life and regret not working as hard as I could have or not being kind to others.