I went to the Haas Alumni Network event at Menlo Circus tonight, and talked to 5 different people about our idea – a variety of professionals and entrepreneurs across an age spectrum from about 35-55. I ended up doing a bit more ‘pitching’ than I would have liked (rather than listening) partly because of the audience and situation, but also because I had no idea whether this idea would resonate with people or not.
The first woman I spoke with had seen a similar idea presented at the SCU business plan competition, for which she was a judge a year or two ago. She had great, pointed questions about who are target customers are, and what our revenue model might look like. She seemed happy to think of this in terms of a business, and not think about herself as a potential customer….
The next woman I spoke with had recently lost her father, understood and liked the idea, but was a bit concerned that some parents will simply not want to work on this, or release control to their kids in this way – which is what she experienced…She was also very concerned about it being online only, and said there had to be a method for non-tech savvy people to use this.
The next person I spoke with I knew from a class last semester – she is very direct and outspoken, so I got some good, straight feedback from her. She understood the idea, but generally thought it was negative, and hoped I would work on something different. She had paid $500 for an estate plan through a lawyer, seemed happy with it, and said it covered almost everything we talked about offering in our site. She understood the fear of lawyers, though, and acknowledged that there are many people who won’t use an estate planner or lawyer for fear of the prices and/or just getting ripped off. She liked and understood the triggers idea, with subscriptions being based on prepped triggers and designees.
I next spoke to her colleague, who immediately understood and liked the idea – he got the ‘relieve the burden’ idea without me even needing to explain it, or the value prop. He was one of several people who asked whether I was talking about products when I told him what we were working on was ‘comprehensive end-of-life planning, online’!
He totally got that a will and formal/legal aspects of EOL planning is extremely limited, and only part of the picture. He also understood, and totally agreed with our differentiated positioning in comparison to legal zoom (he had heard of ‘zoom legal’ so their ads are working). He said he personally wasn’t interested in using the site, but certainly understood it and thought it was timely idea.
The last woman I spoke with seemed the most open to the idea – her father used something called the Neptune Society to pre-pay and pre-arrange his remains disposition and final memorial. He made incremental payments, so he was pre-paid, and merely had to share the paperwork with her so she would be aware of it. She re-iterated and understood that pricing and how we charge would be a very delicate topic for this already delicate topic. She also understood the ‘fear of lawyers’ thing – she has two children, and had spent an hour with estate planner, but didn’t click with her, so she didn’t make a plan with them.