Last week, Empathy, an Israeli startup developing an app to help deal with the death of a loved one, secured a $13 million Seed investment. The round was led by Israeli fund Aleph and General Catalyst, with the latter funding Seed rounds for companies like Snap, Airbnb, Lemonade, Melio, and Zoomin.
Alongside the financing announcement, Empathy is also launching its app for the first time, and by chance it happens to be the biggest market in the world - the U.S. Among the startup’s founders we find Ron Gura, a serial entrepreneur who sold a company to eBay and held an executive role at WeWork’s Israeli R&D center.
“Optimizing peace of mind”
The Empathy app was developed to help families deal with loss of a loved one - both logistically and emotionally. By using the app, families and mourners can prioritize the long to-do list and reduce the load and stress, which comes with the process.
“When a family member passes, in addition to the mourning and emotional challenge - there are a lot of administrative tasks and logistics that need to be taken care of behind the scenes. This requires completing different tasks, some probably for the first time, such as closing bank accounts, inheritance, cleaning the house - all add to the burden during an emotional time for the family,” says Empathy CEO Ron Gura in a conversation with Geektime.
Gura adds that these tasks add up in time, taking over 500 hours of labor, which Gura lists, including “financial, legal, and administrative tasks. Here is where the platform shows its value, saving costly service calls from professionals, or even providing the right list of relevant service providers once there’s a basic understanding of the different options.”
Empathy understands the need for the human component, therefore combining human companions working along with the app to support families in completing the administrative tasks required. “User experience is tailored to each individual user, so as not to overwhelm families with non-crucial information. Additionally, the human support team completes the service, creating a hybrid experience for helping families handle the administrative part of death. We developed a productivity app, however we’re not optimizing efficiency - but peace of mind,” notes Gura.
How did you come up with the idea?
Gura: “This whole industry has been passed on by the innovation community. Mine and Yonatan’s background allowed us to realize that we have an opportunity to use technology to help ease the suffering of many families during very vulnerable times. Technology can help reduce the burden from families , offer them a channel of clarity and peace-of-mind regarding the tasks ahead.”
Gura talks about how the sector is just now going through a revolution, similar to the ones the medical and financial industries experienced in the past. He looks at the software as a solution to allow families to properly grieve, rather than have to deal with various service suppliers.
“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. 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."
Empathy was founded in 2020 by Gura and Yonatan Bergman. The two had previously worked together at a few different companies including The Gifts Project which was acquired by eBay in 2011, PayPal, and at WeWork. Empathy employs a team of 23 split between Tel Aviv and U.S. offices.