Shining a Light

Alexia Santamaria - Next Magazine, August 2018

Angela Calver has suffered more loss than most. But from this pain came an idea to help people cope with the practicalities of bereavement - and to feel more organised on a daily basis. Angela lost 10 significant people in just a few years and realised how much there is to sort out after someone passes away.

Angela Calver - LifeLot founder

In a digital age there are added complications like passwords for Netflix, Facebook and dating profiles that can be hard to close without authorisation.

Angela realised it would be a huge advantage if all your personal information was in one place. The former global supply chain manager and mother-of-two launched LifeLot, an online safe, in 2016.

"While it's incredibly sad to have lost so many, I feel privileged to have had them in my life and I know want to live well and die well too. I hope I can help others do the same."

Getting started

I did so much research as I had to be 100% sure there really was a niche for it in our country. There were a couple of companies in the U.S. but they were very much built around American laws and requirements. 

I talked a lot! To lawyers, accountants, anyone who thought this service would help in day-to-day dealing with their clients, and when the inevitable happens. After that is as all about writing a really comprehensive plan, and then finding a very clever IT team to help me build the website and make it happen. 

Identifying a practical need

After experiencing the loss of parent, other family and friends, I saw a real need for someone's personal information to be easily accessible. Some deaths came with warning, others not - like my friend, Sam, a zookeeper who was mauled by a tiger at Hamilton Zoo in 2015; she was one of three people I knew to die in one weekend.

It was so stressful organising funerals for precious people then dealing with their estates and I never had all the information I needed. That caused more grief and stress at a horrible time. So I decided, "Let's build something to help others in these situations".

Making sure we'd thought of everything

Making sure we'd thought of everything

One of the most important phases in developing LifeLot was making sure we had thought of every information category. We ended up with 59 of them! Everything from Instagram and Twitter passwords to loans, shareholder accounts, health insurance, will information - and even memories and photographs.

We decided to make it so the softer sections like memories and personal information can be printed out into a physical book when people are ready to disestablish the account, so that all precious information is retained.

We also saw that in filling in their LifeLot account, people will realise they don't have certain legal things in place. We sought and carefully vetted excellent external companies to work with if people need to assign an Enduring Power of Attorney, or have legal consultation on a will.

Added bonuses

I've realised it's incredibly helpful, while you're alive, to have all your important information in one central location. It makes life so much easier when you need to access an insurance policy or house title deed. The other extra benefit we found is that the concept can provide a framework for difficult conversations about death. Often children don't want to have these talks with their parents but LifeLot changes it from something painful and awkward into more of a practical ticking-off task.

Life is full of twists and turns

Getting the word out

Initially there was a bit of caution from potential customers - I think there always is with new ideas. There's never been a tool like this in NZ that's available to store everything from documents to dreams. But after approaching the relevant groups we found a lot of interest from financial advisors, rest homes, laywers and insurance brokers who could see this service would be a great help to their clients.

A few niggles

This is very personal data we are dealing with so a lot of work had to go into getting the security right. I had to learn about the technical side - as much as I could without getting a computer science degree - and then talk to all my people about it until they could implement exactly was was required. It's been encrypted to AES 256 level security - the equivalent of top secret grade, but it wasn't without frustration getting there.

It also wasn't easy for some people to think about their mortality. I've had to find ways to make people see it more practically than emotionally, even though it's obvious a very emotional subject.

Building a team

The vision of the company is to help, therefore forming a team of people who inherently want to help others was my starting point. Both the ladies I work with each day are beautiful souls but also incredible at getting things done. I also needed people who help load up documents for those clients needing assistance to fill in their profile. I had to find really special people who could be sensitive, gentle and practical enough to deal with that kind of situation.

Angela's top 5 tipsAngela's Top 5 tips

1. Make sure you allow enough time to fully research your market.

2. Talk to as many people as you can, both personal friends and anyone who might benefit from your idea. This will give you different perspectives.

3. Business networking groups can be really helpful - it's great to have the support of other people going through similar experiences.

4. Make a timeline for your project and times it by two. There will be extra things you don't foresee.

5. At some point you need to take the plunge and just do it. Every company started with someone making that choice.

Find out more about LifeLot

Check out the original article here.

Sign up now