Category: Entrustet

Entrustet Beta and SXSW

You may have noticed that I haven’t had many new posts lately.  I’m in Austin, TX at South By Southwest, where we launched Entrustet Beta two days ago.  After about 18 months of work, we are incredibly proud of the site.

With Account Guardian, we’ve created a free way for you to create a secure list of all of your digital assets (any online account or file on your computer) and decide what you’d like done with each asset when you pass away.  You can either decide to delete individual digital assets or decide to pass specific assets to heirs of your choosing.

Jesse gave his presentation People Die, Profiles Don’t at South By Southwest yesterday and we got a great reaction.  The most tweeted about portion was our stat that over 285,000 American Facebook users will pass away this year.  We calculated this number using Facebook’s own stats and US Government data provided by the US Census and the Centers for Disease Control.

We believe that this number shows that companies already face a large problem about what to do with digital assets when their users die.  I’ll have a longer post about where I think the industry is going once I get back to Madison on Wednesday, so stayed tuned!

Thomas Friedman’s Advice to President Obama is Spot On

From time to time, Thomas Friedman writes something that has the power to change lives.  So far, Friedman’s The World Is Flat has had the greatest impact on me, as it inspired my business partner, Jesse Davis, to start work on our startup, Entruset.  The ideas in his book are still reverberating through our company today, as we got our first mention in the press in today’s Washington Post and continue to work to solve the problem he identified in the book.  You can read the entire story over on our company blog in a post called How Thomas Friedman and The World Is Flat Helped Spawn Entrustet.

I think his latest piece titled More (Steve) Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs has the potential to impact the lives of even more people.  Friedman says:

The most striking feature of Barack Obama’s campaign for the presidency was the amazing, young, Internet-enabled, grass-roots movement he mobilized to get elected. The most striking feature of Obama’s presidency a year later is how thoroughly that movement has disappeared.

I remember getting inundated by posts from my friends on Facebook in the weeks leading up to the election urging me to support Obama, attend rallies or make sure to go out and vote.  The movement continued for the next few weeks, but has completely lost steam.  Even the most ardent Obama supporters among my friends aren’t engaged via social media anymore.  This in itself is pretty amazing, but not Friedman’s main point. He wants President Obama to re-engage America’s youth and doesn’t believe that going after Wall Street or other negative methods will work.  He continues:

Obama should launch his own moon shot. What the country needs most now is not more government stimulus, but more stimulation. We need to get millions of American kids, not just the geniuses, excited about innovation and entrepreneurship again. We need to make 2010 what Obama should have made 2009: the year of innovation, the year of making our pie bigger, the year of “Start-Up America.”

Obama should make the centerpiece of his presidency mobilizing a million new start-up companies that won’t just give us temporary highway jobs, but lasting good jobs that keep America on the cutting edge. The best way to counter the Tea Party movement, which is all about stopping things, is with an Innovation Movement, which is all about starting things. Without inventing more new products and services that make people more productive, healthier or entertained — that we can sell around the world — we’ll never be able to afford the health care our people need, let alone pay off our debts.

I am 100% behind this idea.  It makes perfect sense and would appeal to both sides of the aisle at at time when partisanship is at a seemingly all time high because of the fight over health care.  It would harken back to the Obama that many young people voted for, rather than the less than inspirational version of the President who we have gotten to know since his election.

I believe that entrepreneurship is our best hope for saving the US from its mammoth debt obligations.  We need to find ways to “grow the pie” rather than trying to raise taxes on a stagnant (or shrinking) pie.  I believe that all kinds of entrepreneurship are going to be necessary to solve our problems.  We are going to need traditional entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, but we will also need social entrepreneurs like Muhammad Yunus and the social entrepreneurs featured in Business Week.

I think that if President Obama were to make entrepreneurship a central portion of his presidency, he will find a huge groundswell of willing entrepreneurs who will be willing to help.  Friedman mentions National Lab Day and the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship as examples of organization that are helping young people get interested in innovation.  Both programs would not be able to survive without older, successful mentors.  I think that entrepreneurs are willing to help out as mentors and young people are waiting to be entrepreneurs, but some are just waiting to be pushed.  Inc. Magazine contributor and author of Upstarts!, Donna Fenn says:

Over 75% of the entrepreneurs I interviewed for my book, Upstarts! said that they were very or highly likely to start another company; most had already founded two or more.”  She continues, “70% said their companies had a social mission. But make no mistake: they’re laser-focused on the bottom line as well and they understand why growing a profitable, sustainable company that creates jobs is a social good in and of itself. It’s pretty clear to me: this is a generation worth investing in.

Fenn‘s point is important because many startups are not only creating jobs and coming up with new solutions to problems, but they are also trying to make the world a better place.  If we can get more people to think with this mindset, the US and the world will be a better place.  So President Obama, please follow Friedman’s advice.  This is a no lose issue for you and the country.  You should be able to get support from both sides of the aisle.  You should be able to reconnect with an electorate that wants to support you, but has not because you have abandoned what got you into office.  Go back to the politics of hope, propose real solutions that everyone can get behind and see what happens.  I bet it will change lives.

Introducing Entrustet

It’s finally time.  I’d like to introduce you to my new startup,

The Entrustet informational site is live and ready for the world. I’ve been working on for the past 14 months with my friend and co-founder Jesse Davis and have loved every minute.  Entrustet is a secure, organizational tool that brings together people like you, estate planning lawyers and the companies that provide online accounts and memberships. Entrustet allows users to maintain a secure portfolio of online assets, nominate heirs and manage asset distribution and deletion after their passing. Entrustet’s wide range of services allow you to organize and decide what happens to your digital assets, before your loved ones or your executor are faced with the unknowns and complexities of protecting your online legacy.

For example, you could use Entrustet to create a list of all of your important digital assets like your domain names, digital photos and online accounts and tell your heirs what you would like done with them when you die.  I know I want my digital photos to be preserved so that my heirs can have access to them once I’m gone.

My partner Jesse Davis came up with the idea while he was reading Thomas Friedman’s book The World Is Flat and we partnered up a few months later.  You can read more about how Jesse came up with the idea on our company blog, here. We have been working full time ever since and are excited to share what we have been doing with the world.  It’s been an amazing experience so far and we are excited to continue working to make Entrustet a success.  I’ve learned so much, met some great people and throughly enjoyed myself over the past 14 months.  I’m confident that it will continue!  Jesse and I would like to thank our Merlin Mentor team, our lawyers at Neider and Boucher, family and friends and everyone else who has helped us to get where we are today.

I invite you to check out our informational site and give us your feedback!  You can also find us on Twitter @Entrustet