A new Israeli startup is helping the bereaved deal with their loss

Israeli startup Empathy, which is building a platform to help families navigate the complex bureaucratic journey after the loss of a loved one, has raised $30 million in Series A funding, the company announced Thursday. The investment comes just five months after Empathy came out of stealth mode in April to reveal $13 million in funding.

The funding was led by Israeli venture capital firm Entree Capital, with participation from US-based General Catalyst, Israeli venture capital firm Aleph, as well as UK-based LocalGlobe and Primetime. Partners, a New York-based firm that invests in start-ups focused on improving the quality of life for older consumers.

Prominent angel investors also took part in the investment, including Shai Wininger, co-founder and CEO of Israeli insurtech giant Lemonade and co-founder of Fiverr, Micha Kaufman, also co-founder of Fiverr and its CEO, the British philanthropist and businessman Sir Ronald Cohen, and John Kim, former chairman of the New York Life Insurance Company.

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Based in New York and Tel Aviv, Empathy was founded earlier this year by Israeli entrepreneurs Ron Gura and Yonatan Bergman. They began working together on The Gifts Project, which was acquired by eBay in 2011, and over the past decade have held various positions including PayPal, eBay and WeWork. With Empathy, Gura and Bergman have developed a platform that helps families and loved ones navigate the paperwork and bureaucracy that comes with death, where, in the midst of the deepest grief, the grieving must arrange funerals and manage a myriad of logistical processes and financial affairs.

The platform was launched in the United States in April. He takes families through a “step-by-step” process of what needs to be done right away and what can wait, Gura told Israel time in May.

The process of arranging funerals, probating wills, closing bank accounts, managing estates, applying for benefits, etc., can take over 500 hours on average – “a second job said Mr. Gura, adding that Empathy could serve as a “GPS of loss,” similar to Waze.

The app was designed for the US market, not only because it is big, but also because the bureaucracy after death in the US is very heavy, explained Gura.

A description of how the Empathy app works for account management (Courtesy)

The service can perform technical procedures such as closing accounts and deactivating vendors, if the user takes snapshots of the executor’s approval, death certificate and bank statement, saved in a vault encrypted digital safe, Mr. Gura explained. Then, with the bereaved’s consent, “let’s take care of the bureaucracy and tedious tasks” for them, he added. “It will be as easy as one click.”

Human, in-person support from estate lawyers and bereavement experts is also available via phone or chat, creating what the company says is a “hybrid experience” to help bereaved people.

According to Mr. Gura, Empathy’s mission is complex: it is to catalog all the different points of contact in order to personalize interactions according to jurisdiction, family situation, level of income and tax situation. But it’s no more complicated than automating finance or self-driving cars, he added. Navigating grief “is something technology should and can do.”

Technology will help generate all information, keep documents secure and personalize the bureaucratic process, he said. “These are things that we use technology for, every day, for other sectors, but for some reason the technology is not being applied to this huge problem area that we cannot avoid. »

“As humans, we have forgotten how to mourn. We don’t give it enough space in modern society,” said Gura. “Employers must do a better job of understanding people returning from bereavement. Friends shouldn’t always make you feel like you have to get over it, like there’s a set time for grieving. This is not the case. Sometimes it is a month, sometimes a year, sometimes an eternity”.

In a company statement Thursday, Gura welcomed the new investment and said, “The software is finally being used to make a meaningful difference for families struggling with loss.” »

“We are humbled to hear from the bereaved families we have helped, and we are determined to continue working to help as much as possible to ease both the logistical and emotional burdens of the death of a loved one,” said he.

In addition to its direct-to-consumer platform, Empathy said it is also working with leading brands in industries such as insurance companies, hospice chains and funeral homes to “expand its reach through strategic partnerships”. Empathy’s latest partnership was signed with New York Life last month to make the platform available to beneficiaries.

Empathy said the new funding will allow it to expand its staff and develop new products, as well as “continue its mission to change the way the world deals with grief.”

“The Empathy product is uniquely transformative in the market and represents a major solution to how to deal with grief,” said Avi Eyal, Managing Partner of Entree Capital, in the announcement. “Its holistic approach sets it apart, and this, along with its growth, is what brought the company to our attention. We look forward to working with Empathy’s founders and team as they grow in providing this much-needed solution to millions people all over the world. »

Empathy employs about 20 people in Tel Aviv and New York, and the team includes professionals from the legal, accounting, product design, engineering and cybersecurity sectors, as well as bereavement experts, says of the company.

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