Startup Corner: Farewill in focus

Described in its marketing material as ‘wills for the 21st century’, Farewill promises you can make a new will in 15 minutes and has some heavyweight financial backers (think founders of Zoopla and Wonga) to help it disrupt the conventional will writing sector. So far available only in England and Wales, it has plans to expand to Scotland. Interestingly, its founders say that the ease of making a will is beginning to change will writing behaviour, with more people making bequests to friends.
How would you describe your company to a friend?
Everyone needs a will – but a lot of people think it’s expensive or just don’t know where to start. We make it easy to make your will online, in your own home, that you can update whenever you need to.
And if you had to describe it to a techy?
Design-led product, which algorithmically generates wills, removing the often unnecessary middleman – a solicitor – and saving time and money for our customers.
When were you founded?
Late 2015.
By who?
Dan Garrett – CEO – ex Royal College of Art and University of Oxford
Tom Rogers – CTO – ex Boomf & University of Oxford
Who are your key managers/senior execs?
Anish Hallan – Head of Product
Constance Mantle – Partnerships
Harry Copeman – Design Lead
What is your growth strategy?
Since publicly launching in Nov 2016 we’ve seen the majority of our growth and acquisition through partnerships. We work with employers, from other startups like Deliveroo and Transferwise, to large national corporates, to provide wills for their employees as a company perk.
We also partner with charities to help them understand and maximize their legacy income. Currently we’re making over £1M per month for charity partners in gifts in wills.
For the remainder of 2017, our major focus is on acquisition through content and brand engagement as well as paid social channels like Facebook. As a company, we want to build the first consumer brand in death. The key to that is in producing engaging, interesting, useful content, that helps people, whether our customers or not, to understand and deal with death.
Have you received investment?
Yes, a seed round of £400,000 in 2016. Investors include Alex Chesterman (Founder/CEO – Zoopla), Errol Damelin (Founder/CEO – Wonga), Kindred Capital & Saatchinvest.
Who are your target clients?
28-50 year olds are our primary users – life eventers – people having children, buying houses, getting married or engaged. Also people who are above 65, who might be more consciously planning for the end of their lives.
Have there been any key changes in direction since you were founded?
We initially had a lot more digital functionality in our product – to do with leaving photos, videos and music as gifts in wills. We’ve taken it out in the short term to focus on building an exceptional user experience, making it as simple as possible to understand the concepts behind writing a will and get it done in as little as ten minutes.
What are the key challenges you face in your market?
We have to overcome customer acquisition friction. People think making a will has to be hard and expensive, and it’s our job to inform them that that isn’t the case. The more we can build a brand and change the perception of writing wills, the easier it will be for us to help our customers take action.
What are the most exciting developments you’ve seen in your market in the past year to 18 months?
Lot’s of interesting conversations about digital legacy and passwords after people die. Some interesting developments by Facebook and Google to do with handling dead peoples’ accounts.
Tell us something that people don’t already know about the company?
60% of our wills contain gifts to friends. This is compared to an industry standard of 5%. By focusing on making the product as simple, accessible and friendly as possible, we’ve seen a real behaviour change in how people are dealing with their estates and engaging with their wills.