2010 was an action packed year for us at Entrustet. We first came up with the idea to create a system to allow people, companies and attorneys to transfer and delete digital assets back in November 2008, but we really hit our stride in 2010. In January, we closed our first round of funding from investors in the midwest and the east coast. We also were approved for the Wisconsin Technology Venture Loan, a program that awarded us a low interest loan from the State of Wisconsin. We’ve seen our team expand from 2 to 7 and seen our business grow with our team.
We’ve used this money to launch our product and become the thought leaders in issues dealing with death and the Internet. In March 2010, Jesse spoke at a panel at South By Southwest called People Die, Profiles Don’t. That same day, we launched Account Guardian, which allows consumers to create a list of their online accounts and computer files and decide which should be deleted and which should be transferred to heirs when they die. Our SXSW panel allowed us to break onto the scene and we received our first press features in The Washington Post and Rocketboom Tech.
We also calculated that three Facebook users die every single minute, a stat that has been published and blogged about all over the Internet. We’ve been featured in Mashable, TechCrunch, Forbes, Fox Business, Lifehacker, Wired, BBC, Financial Times and a whole host of other publications. I attended the inaugural Digital Death Day in Mountain View, CA and Jesse and I (along with A LOT of help from our interns) have written over 170 blog posts about digital estate planning, digital assets and websites issues relating to digital death.
We’ve used our press, blog and marketing to sign up over 20 attorneys for our attorney partner program. These attorneys represent over 15,000 estate planning clients and have learned how to create wills and trusts that incorporate digital assets. In fact, Jesse and I were the first people in North America to execute wills that include all of our digital assets. Our partners and attorneys at Neider and Boucher have taken the lead as the preeminent digital estate planning firm in the United States and probably the world.
In October, we officially launched our corporate partner program. Partner websites agree to allow their users to transfer or delete their online accounts when they pass away, and Entrustet notifies each partner website whenever one of their users passes away. We’ve partnered with a bunch of websites so far, including Flavors.me, Broadjam, Vendder, Goodsie, others.
We’ve also seen a huge change in public awareness and perception of our industry. When we first started, there was only one other company in the “digital death” space. Now there are over 50, including 4 who are direct competitors in the consumer market. We love competition, as we believe it validates our market. If you Google digital estate planning, digital assets or any other keywords, you’ll find hundreds of press mentions and blog posts about digital death.
We believe that we’re nearing a tipping point where planning for your digital death becomes mainstream. Facebook, Twitter and Google now all have death policies and have actively updated them in 2010. Facebook even admitted they have a death problem. Oklahoma just passed a law that requires websites to allow executors access to deceased people’s online accounts. I’m confident that other states in the US will pass similar laws in the near future. Entrustet was even featured in a book about our industry called Your Digital Afterlife: When Facebook, Flickr and Twitter Are Your Estate, What’s Your Legacy?
In November, Entrustet was selected for Start-Up Chile and Jesse and I moved to Santiago to continue to work on the business. We’ve been here for about a month now and have enjoyed meeting all of the other startups and experiencing life in another country. We’ve had the opportunity to meet successful Chilean entrepreneurs, professors, as well as Silicon Valley icons like Steve Blank and Vivek Wadwha.
We believe that 2011 will be the year that our industry becomes mainstream. More states will pass laws similar to Oklahoma’s and more websites will realize that they need to create a plan for dealing with user deaths. We believe that we are in the right place and have the right plan to help websites, consumers and attorneys create plans for dealing with digital death. Look for big things in the digital death space in 2011, with Entrustet leading the way.