This Founder Got Big Bucks By Sending Investors Personalized Cremation Urns

August 9, 2015
Advertisement

Article originally appeared on Business Insider

Eliam Medina, the co-founder of online will creation startup Willing, definitely knows how to make a first impression.

When Medina applied to Y Combinator, one of the most prestigious startup accelerators in the world, he knew he had to stand out or be forgotten. So he did something brash.

“We sent them personalized cremation urns with the partners’ names on them,” he tells Business Insider. The urns also bore a variation of YC’s motto: Make something people want.

Advertisement

“It doesn’t take a genius to see that YC receives 5,000 applications and has only 14 partners,” Medina explains. He needed to get the point across.

With the urns, Medina says he wanted to represent how important end-of-life issues are. There’s nothing like seeing your own urn to remind you that death is coming for everyone, and we should all be ready. Medina’s gambit got Y Combinator’s attention, and Willings was accepted into this year’s “class.” This means the company received investment and mentorship, and will participate in “demo day” on August 18-19, when they will pitch their vision to prominent tech figures.

So what’s that vision?

Medina says Willing has one goal: making end-of-life planning easier, more affordable, and more approachable. The first step toward this is Willing’s current service, which allows users to create a legally binding will online in 10 minutes — for free.

But how is Willing going to make money?

Medina says eventually he wants to pursue a “freemium” model, where higher end products like trusts would exist behind a paywall. Wills would always be free, he stresses. And another unexpected source of income has been attorneys themselves. You might think they would resent a startup trying to butt into their area of practice, but Medina says many of them have approached Willing asking to partner in creating wills for their clients.

Willing   wizardWilling

The ease of use and the free lower tier is how Willing hopes to compete with established players like LegalZoom and Quicken. Medina is adamant that the current system is cumbersome and confusing, that the current players feel like a holdover from the software of 10 years ago.

He found this out firsthand when his aunt had a medical emergency in 2014. She didn’t have any kids, so Medina had to help her get her affairs in order. It was a nightmare, he said. And that’s why, with little coding knowledge, he decided to try and build a company to streamline the process.

Medina enrolled in Bloc, a coding bootcamp that offered a 12-week crash course in coding. He says he spent the first two weeks trying to absorb as much as possible, and the rest of the time workshopping Willing’s first iteration with his Bloc mentor.

Willing   wizardWilling

During this time he connected with his co-founder Rob Dyson, who he’d known since high school. “I wanted someone I could trust,” he says. The company secured early funding from investors like Sound Ventures, 500 Startups, Accomplice, and Gary Vaynerchuk, but put raising money on hold when they were accepted to Y Combinator.

But now Willing is looking to expand again. Medina has dreams of becoming a one-stop shop for end-of-life concerns. He wants to not only create wills, but help you plan all your final arrangements.

CDFuneralNews

CDFuneralNews

ConnectingDirectors.com is the leading online daily publication for funeral professionals with a reader base of over 45,000 of the most elite and forward-thinking professionals in the profession. With ConnectingDirectors.com we have created a global community through an online platform allowing funeral professionals to Stay Current. Stay Informed and Stay Elite.
CDFuneralNews
Advertisement

You may be interested

BEAN TOWN BREAK DOWN | FUNERAL hustle 015
FUNERAL Hustle
174 views
FUNERAL Hustle
174 views

BEAN TOWN BREAK DOWN | FUNERAL hustle 015

CDFuneralNews - November 14, 2017

Ryan is exposed EXPOSED as a terrible (.....) in FUNERAL hustle 015! Part 2 of our Boston NFDA recap we…

NFDA Goes Big In Boston
Funeral Industry Press Releases
128 views
Funeral Industry Press Releases
128 views

NFDA Goes Big In Boston

CDFuneralNews - November 14, 2017

Brookfield, Wis. – The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) 2017 International Convention & Expo, held October 29 through November 1…

2017 REFLECTION OF NFDA BOSTON AND A TRIBUTE TO THE VETERANS | FUNERAL nation 094
FUNERAL Nation
242 views
FUNERAL Nation
242 views

2017 REFLECTION OF NFDA BOSTON AND A TRIBUTE TO THE VETERANS | FUNERAL nation 094

CDFuneralNews - November 13, 2017

On this episode, we send a big "thank you" to our very own Funeral Commander, Jeff Harbeson in honor of…

Comments