Israeli startup Empathy launches with $13M seed round to help families deal with death
There are two things that are certain in life: death and taxes. It was Benjamin Franklin’s last great quote in 1789 when he said, “Our new Constitution is now established, everything seems to promise it will be durable; but, in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.” Unfortunately, we have very little control over them. However, we could use technology to streamline the bureaucracy around loss – freeing families to deal with emotional repercussions and to be there for one another.
At least three million Americans die each year, leaving many grieving families in distress, not just from their loss but from the logistical nightmare that follows. In the weeks and months following a death, these families spend over 500 hours, on average, dealing with immediate needs, like arranging a funeral and validating a will, as well as long-term processes such as account cancellations, estate administration, benefit claims, and property cleanout.
Enter Empathy, a technology platform that helps families navigate the journey they face after losing a loved one. Empathy’s mission is to help families deal with loss, incorporating both emotional and logistical support for the families in their time of need.
Today, Empathy announced the launch of its application on iOS and Android for users across the United States. Empathy’s technology-enabled platform is designed to guide families experiencing loss with purpose and compassion. Empathy is backed by $13M in a seed round co-led by General Catalyst and Aleph.
Launched in 2021 and headquartered in New York and Tel Aviv, Empathy was founded by Ron Gura and Yonatan Bergman, two entrepreneurs with experience innovating a wide array of fintech and consumer sectors. The duo began their work together at The Gifts Project, acquired by eBay in 2011, and over the last decade have held various leadership positions including at PayPal, eBay, and WeWork. The Empathy team consists of a multidisciplinary line-up of professionals from the legal, accounting, product design, engineering, and cybersecurity sectors, as well as grief experts who came together to help families deal with loss.
“It’s the inherent optimism of human nature that causes us to avoid talking about death,” said Ron Gura, Co-Founder & CEO of Empathy. “But because we don’t discuss it, we miss out on important opportunities to innovate and provide families with technology that can help them manage some of life’s most challenging moments — and this leaves families overwhelmed and underserved. Logistics are made hard by grief, and grief is made harder by logistics. The software can and will play a huge role in helping families deal with loss and will hopefully drive a much-needed change in the industry at large.”
Combining technology and human support, Empathy provides a digital companion application built to empower bereaved families. Empathy’s software streamlines end-of-life bureaucracy, minimizes tedious tasks, and automates processes involved in the administration of an estate. Simplified steps assist families in completing action items, making informed decisions, and avoiding common mistakes. The experience is personalized for each user to ensure families are not overwhelmed by an excess of information. Human support is available to provide users both emotional and practical assistance, creating a hybrid experience to help families navigate arrangements and grief.
“The end-of-life industry is a large sector that has been untouched by the wave of the digital transformation occurring in every other industry,” said Joel Cutler, Co-Founder and Managing Director at General Catalyst. “Empathy is unique in that it addresses both the emotional and logistical anguish of loss. We believe this is the technology and experience that can greatly benefit every family.”
“The Empathy team is directing their vast experience in consumer software to significantly improve how people handle the burdens that come with death,” said Michael Eisenberg, Co-Founder and Equal Partner at Aleph. “When grieving, many families do not have the bandwidth to deal with tasks and bureaucracy. By combining financial technology and emotional understanding, Empathy has built a product for the next of kin with compassion at its core.”