AfterSteps: Two Women Take on the Business of Death in the Digital Age

August 16, 2011
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What are the only two certainties in life?

Death and taxes.

But despite the fact everyone dies, and everyone knows they’re going to die, people don’t ever want to plan for the occasion. Two women entering their second year at Harvard Business School, Jess Bloomgarden and Emma Taylor have decided to tackle Death 2.0 with their new company AfterSteps, an online end-of-life planning platform. Complete with estate planning, financial planning, funeral planning and legacy planning, it’s a system that Forbes blogger Peter Cohan calls: “The Turbo Tax for death.

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Bloomgarden identified this important need after she lost a grandparent and saw how cumbersome the death-planning process (or lack thereof) can be. She says that today, 65% of Americans die without a will, leaving a painful aftermath for survivors. Currently, you have to individually go to estate and financial planners; it’s fragmented, time-consuming and expensive. AfterSteps offers an easy, cloud-based experience for everything from storing your will, handling organ donation, pet custody and of courseÖ AfterSteps also helps users plan for their digital afterlife, including your Gmail account, your Twitter handle, your Facebook account, etc. While there are a couple Facebook for the afterlife apps out there like “If I die,” AfterSteps encompasses all of your needs.

AfterSteps provides access to expert advice including estate, financial and funeral planners. Your family will receive your log-in information with username and password and instructions for each of your digital accounts. AfterSteps offers several different pricing options including starting at $4 per month with a 14-day free trial.

AfterSteps is smart. It’s targeting 76 million baby boomers, accounting for $5 billion dollars in revenue opportunity. Bloomgarden and Taylor want AfterSteps to do for death planning what The Knot did for weddings. They plan to scale with distribution partners, including pair with corporate human resource departments.

We all knew this type of platform was coming and I expect we’ll see a lot more digital businesses popping up in the next few years targeting death planning. The team has just graduated from DreamIt Ventures’ first accelerator program in New York City and is currently raising a seed round. This fall, Bloomgarden and Taylor will return to Harvard to both finish school and work on AfterSteps with a full-time CTO and the help of Harvard’s Innovation Lab.

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