When someone dies, the process their family goes through is long, paperwork heavy and repetitive. One startup, Exizent, wants to change that — and the pandemic is accelerating the need to do so.
Glasgow-based Exizent has just raised £3.6m in new funding to help in its mission to digitise the process, by creating a platform that connects the necessary information and people together in one place.
The business is one of several “death tech” startups that have emerged and secured funding recently, with the coronavirus pandemic making the need to revolutionise the bereavement process more critical.
“Bereavement is an area that has been untouched by technology until now,” says Nick Cousins, chief executive of Exizent. “The environment we’re now operating in means there’s even more of an acceleration towards digitised services in this space.”
Exizent’s platform will connect three key groups of people together: the executor entrusted with the deceased person’s estate, legal services, and the institutions that hold information about the person who has passed away. Rather than having to deal with several admin processes, it’ll all be in one place.
“In a world of open banking, open finance and open data we are able to piece together the bits of the jigsaw concerning someone’s estate,” says Cousins.
For him, the impetus to start Exizent came from seeing the pains of the bereavement process first hand.
“I’ve experienced bereavement in my own family and watched a number of my friends lose partners very early. I watched the struggles they faced when trying to deal with the administration that followed,” says Cousins.
“The proposition for Exizent is founded on the desire to help people at the most difficult time in their lives.”
Among the other death tech startups to receive funding recently was London-based Farewill. In July, it received €22.m to grow its platform which allows people to create a legally binding will without the fees of visiting a solicitor.
Farewill’s chief executive told Sifted that, like Exizent, he perceived an increase in the need for digitised platforms because of the pandemic. “The team is very stretched,” said chief executive Dan Garrett, adding that the demand for its services had increased fourfold.
As well as Farewill and Exizent, in the UK there’s also Guardian Angel, which provides online will-writing services and allows friends and family to put together an online memorial for the person.
In Europe, there’s Barcelona-based Bios Urn, which makes biodegradable urns that are planted to convert people’s ashes into trees, and Vivo Recuerdo, also based in Spain, which installs screens in funeral homes to show a photo memorial during the wake.
Exizent’s Cousins says that we can expect to see more and more startups working on death tech. “I think we’ll see lots more businesses created in the future that want to apply technology to be a force for good in the world,” he says.
“I fundamentally believe in the role of professionals to help you at difficult points in your life, but I am also a firm believer that automation and digitisation have a key role to play in making those interactions easier.”