by Matthew Lynley for Techcrunch
Talking about filling out a will and setting up life insurance is probably one of the more sensitive subjects you’ll tackle as you get older — but Dave Hanley says it’s something that a lot of people end up dodging altogether.
That’s why he started Tomorrow, a company that makes it easier to set up life insurance and how assets and guardianship are divvied up. Rather than sitting down with a lawyer, Tomorrow looks to simplify it down to a few buttons on a screen that helps people walk through the process in more of a soft manner without feeling overwhelmed by lawyers and the rest of the whole daunting process. Tomorrow launched today (no pun intended) on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2017.
“If you look at GoFundMe, it’s filled with all these stories,” co-founder Dave Hanley said. “You go there and it’s just some guy like me, like my friend Ben, who’s doing everything right and never got around to life insurance. I realized, wow, this should be better. Why are these smart, capable people not doing this, and it all came down to it was expensive, overwhelming, that it took too long, that they didn’t want to think through all this.”
Tomorrow’s goal is to make it easy to create and fill out a will, drilling down to who gets what based on photos of the belongings and organizing assets to see a final net worth. Users can also search through and sign up for life insurance through the app and bring in people to fill roles, like guardians for their children, which are then named in the legal documents.
The app is designed to go through the whole process in the span of a short while and make it easier to keep wills and other legal documents updated over time. Users can go through each specific part from an array of colorful icons on the app’s home page. Hanley said designing those icons, and the overall tone of the app seemed as much of a challenge as the regulatory hurdles given the nature of the subject it’s addressing.
One example comes in the form of selecting potential guardians for children. A user can start typing in names, and it pulls out information from their contacts and sends the potential guardian a text message. The goal here is to start a conversation and begin a soft process of ensuring that the right people are tapped as guardians — and, perhaps more importantly to Hanley, that they can change them when necessary.
“We knew that people don’t like to think about their own mortality,” Hanley said. “Thinking about that is only part of a plan you need to put together for your family. Everything from the brand name of tomorrow, focusing on the future, to the iconography in the app, to the social experience where I begin by typing the name of my wife in — all that had to be tested and carefully crafted.”
Tomorrow acts as an insurance broker for life insurance, giving it a way to generate a business through referrals. Hanley said the company has had to create a brokerage that works across all 50 states, which both enables its users to purchase life insurance and helps them actually build a sustainable business. “It was painful but worth it, we knew if we didn’t nail the user interface and that everyone felt completely comfortable we would miss the mark,” he said.
Hanley, of course, will end up having to contend — at least on the life insurance front — with employers who already look to offer some kind of life insurance option. The company looks to offer all of these tools in one place, hoping that creating a kind of conversation around the process through the app will make it more appealing than checking off a few boxes every year when enrollment comes around.
“We sat down for six months, paper prototyping, designing, reading every book, talking to customers to design exactly what the experience would be,” Hanley said. “The decisions that needed to be made, how they could be made, so it could be easily understood. This is probably too obscure of a reference but Rich Barton, founder of Zillow, he said this is like a Beautiful South song. Sang songs about death and dying and suicide, but they were all upbeat pop songs.”