Planned Departure was founded by Anand Ramdeo and Komal Joshi. They are currently part of the London Business School Incubator Program and they have received the Founder Award from the Deloitte Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Nam Nguyen, Marketing Executive at Planned Departure told us more in an exclusive interview with KillerStartups. Check it out:
What’s your company about? What do you do? Who are your customers?
Our digital footprint is growing and becoming important every day. Our digital life has real financial and emotional value associated with it. However, there is no clear and straightforward way to transfer aspects of digital life to right people after we pass away. In many cases, accounts are locked, lost or become easy target of identity theft because no-one is watching those accounts. This often results in emotional trauma and unnecessary burden for people who have to deal with this.
When we were researching around this, we found that there are billions of pounds of unclaimed assets in every country – in the form of unclaimed bank accounts, insurance policies, dividends and so on. These assets remain unclaimed because of only one thing – lack of information to right people. Planned Departure solves this problem.
Planned Departure lets user store any information they want in safe and secure electronic vault. It also allows users to assign right beneficiary for every piece of information they store and release this information to right people after user is passed away. Planned Departure uses AES-256 encryption to store every thing in encrypted format and uses infrastructure from Google to ensure reliability. We believe that as a user, we should be able to decide what should happen to our accounts – during and after our life.
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website? Why is it better than the competition?
Planned Departure allows user to save multiple categories of information and assets such as social media accounts, important contacts, utility bills details, crypto currency, pictures, videos, web sites domains, notes and many more. Unlike our competitors we can track our users not only through email but also facebook and twitter, if the user like. We also have unlimited numbers of beneficiaries that the user can assign for each piece of information. Moreover we provide more storage space than our competitors (1GB is the minimum compared to 500MB of our competitors). Finally we are working on new features for smart phones and email plugins to ease the experience of our users.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
We came up with the name because we have gone through the painful process when a close to us person has departed. That process turned out more painful due to the unplanned digital leads that the person has left. Therefore, we wanted to ease that process by making the unexpected departure more organized for the loved ones. That is how we came up with Planned Departure.
What was your first computer? How old were you when you first got on the world wide web?
My first contact to the world wide web was in 2001, when PC were getting very popular. My first PC was a Desktop with 10inch monitor, pentium 2 processor and floppy disc reader. The Internet was coming from the phone and the modem made crazy noises. It was good times.
What time do you usually start work each day? How many hours a day do you usually work?
We start work at 9am to 6-7pm. Depending on the day we stay in the office 8 to 9 hours a day.
When’s the last time you went on vacation and where did you go?
3 years ago to South East Asia.
What’s the very first thing you do at work every day?
We do a Stand-ups every morning, where everyone quickly say what they have been working the previous day and what are they working on that day and have the targets been met.
When do your best ideas come to you? In bed in the morning? During dinner? On your third beer?
My ideas come randomly and unexpectedly most of the time. For example in the tube, on a night out, in the bathroom, while in the gym, while talking to people and especially when I eat steaks!
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
Planned Departure was founded by Komal Joshi and Anand Ramdeo. Komal is the CEO and Anand is the CTO of the company. Now, there are 7 people working full time for the company.
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually go after yours?
Our Technical capabilities was the main confidence generator that help us to start the idea. Komal has worked for various big organizations such as IBM, Channel 4 and Anand is specialized in building websites and apps such as TestingGeek.com. Their work experiences have given them the right set of skills that mutually benefited both of them. Another reason of encouragement was that the idea of Digital Legacy is just emerging and the market is not saturated of competitors.
Remember the early days of starting up? Describe the struggles you went through.
In the beginning the main struggle was to make people aware of this emerging problem. People were and are still not aware how much valuable information and asset they leave behind, without thinking how to protect them. In the UK there are £20billion unclaimed money stashed in bank accounts and £2billion of unclaimed insurance policies of dead people. Furthermore there are 30 million active accounts on facebook of deceased people. Why should anyone lose their financial and emotional assets? The fact that people do not think about dying and convincing them that planning early is important was one of the toughest challenge we had to deal with.
How do you handle frustration? What has been your biggest professional frustration?
I handle frustration by keeping on trying. The biggest frustration was when nobody believed in us in the beginning. Everyone was skeptical about the idea, we had a lot of negative feedback, many unanswered questions, but yet with hard work and believe in ourselves we have partially achieve our dream.
What’s your office environment like? Do you listen to music? Watch movies? Play video games?
It is a very open environment, where everyone is welcome to ask questions, share ideas, participate in discussions, help each other. We love to have team lunches where everyone brings food from his own culture and cuisine. Our team is very culturally diverse, we have people from India, Ghana, Belgium and Vietnam. Every day we learn something new about each other’s culture which is really awesome which help us in reaching out to many different people.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
We are starting our crowd funding campaign and are planning to raise 60k in the first round to boost our marketing and product development activities. We plan to add many new features to the already rich of options platform and and build apps for smartphone and tablets, as well as plugging for emails account. So, the vision in 5 years time from now is to establish the company worldwide with access from all electronic devices.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food?
My thirst for knowledge inspires me to move forward. I want to use that knowledge in a constructive way to help people. Our product reflects [that] by helping people get over the difficult moments in life.
What other advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get started?
To work hard towards their dreams, to listen to themselves, to listen the criticisms and do whatever they think is right. Finally to learn how accept failures and how to overcome them.
What would you do if you had a year off and $500,000 to spend (on something other than work)?
First I would create a fund of $300k for my family, that would cover all the health emergencies that could arise in future, it would also cover the higher education of future family members. With the rest I would go travelling and exploring new cultures and ideas.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur? If not, what’ll make you feel successful?
Yes, I consider myself a successful entrepreneur. Because I can do for living what I enjoy, I am being able to support my family and being able to help 5 young people by providing them a job that they enjoy doing.
Three people (other than you) we should follow on Twitter and why?
- @TEDTalks – you can always learn something new
- @carlreiner – age 91, might be the oldest twitter in the world, his old humor gives something different to the normal day
- @DalaiLama – amazing thoughts for peace and compassion
Where else can our readers find you?