Entrustet Acquired by SecureSafe

Capital Entrepreneurs member Entrustet was acquired by Switzerland based SecureSafe, the market leader in Digital Estate Planning and online data safes.  Announcing the acquisition today, DSwiss CEO, Christian Schwarzer, said the acquisition also “shows our business partners, investors and other competitors that we plan to stay at the top of this market.”

According to Schwarzer, since launching in 2008, Entrustet has built-up relationships with estate planning attorneys who integrate digital assets into clients’ estate plans throughout the US which will “prove invaluable to DSwiss as it strives to expand into the US market. Currently, the SecureSafe service has attracted many US customers who appreciate the benefits of Switzerland’s well-known privacy and data protection policies.”

“The Entrustet service allows people to quickly, easily and securely prepare the last wishes for their digital assets and is a complement to SecureSafe’s existing data inheritance features. By consolidating the two companies, SecureSafe (formerly known as DataInherit) becomes the premier service for offering high security data storage both now and for the future,” Schwarzer said.

Entrustet, cofounded by Jesse Davis and Nathan Lustig, was a founding member of Capital Entrepreneurs back in May 2009 just after Davis and Lustig graduated from UW. The deal also received coverage from The Economist in an article called Deathless Data. Entrustet is the second CE company to be acquired out of the original founding companies.  It shows that Madison is continuing to develop into a great place to start a startup.


PerBlue Visits Startup Chile

Forrest Woolworth of PerBlue visited Nathan Lustig and Jesse Davis of Entrustet in their Santiago, Chile office last week (both are CE member companies). Based in Madison, Entrustet has been operating from Santiago since November after being one of only 25 startups selected from around the world to participate in the Startup Chile program.

Startup Chile is a program started by the Chilean government to attract entrepreneurs to the country and ultimately increase local entrepreneurial activity. The program provides companies with a $40,000 subsidy, office space, visas, and more. Companies must operate from Chile for 6 months. Startup Chile has attracted a lot of press, and has established Chile as the entrepreneurial hotspot of South America.

Back in the US, President Obama recently announced Startup America, an initiative to “celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation.”

“Entrepreneurs embody the promise of America: the idea that if you have a good idea and are willing to work hard and see it through, you can succeed in this country. And in fulfilling this promise, entrepreneurs also play a critical role in expanding our economy and creating jobs.”
-President Barack Obama

The initiatives of Startup America are a great start, but could also having a program similar to Startup Chile (that provides subsides and support directly to startups) help even more in attracting and creating new startups at the local level (particularly in Madison)? Could we pull off a Startup Madison and establish Madison as even more of a startup hotspot?

Entrustet Featured on CNN

Capital Entrepreneurs member Entrustet was featured on CNN in an article titled Do Web Users Fear the Digital Reaper?  From the link:

Lustig is confident that there will be a shift in attitude that will manifest itself in the healthy profits (he jokes that his company’s unofficial motto is: “Everybody uses the Internet and everybody dies.”)

“People need to make the mental leap from considering online accounts as just the main activities that they do all day online to actually real digital assets,” he said.

“I do not know the speed or how long it’s going to take for that shift to take place but we’ll all see it happen before our eyes.”

Entrustet Featured in New York Times and NPR

Capital Entrepreneurs member company Entrustet was featured in the New York Times magazine’s online edition today in an article called Cyberspace when you’re Dead.  The print edition will run on Sunday.  The article follows the threads of digital death and digital identity and talks about Entrustet’s digital death industry.  From the link:

The founders of Entrustet are surprisingly young. Jesse Davis , who is 23, was still a student at the University of Wisconsin when he wrote the original business plan in 2008. He came up with the idea after reading what has become one of the best-known stories on the complexities of digital assets and one of the few that has found its way into the courts. Justin Ellsworth, a Marine killed in Iraq in 2004, did not leave behind the password to his Yahoo e-mail account, and when the company refused to give his parents access to it, they sued. Eventually, under orders from a probate judge, Yahoo gave them a CD it said contained Ellsworth’s e-mail. Ellsworth’s story convinced Davis and his business partner, Nathan Lustig, 25, that there was a market for “digital estate planning” services. In the case of Entrustet, this means an automated system for storing passwords and instructions for all your digital assets.

Such businesses rest on a simple idea: Web, mobile and social-media use keeps exploding; everyone still dies. Meanwhile, much of the archiving of basic family life is becoming digital. It has become routine to have an online “presence” even as an infant, by way of a picture posted on a parent’s social-networking profile. Lustig pointed me to a recent corporate study that identified “chief memory officer” as a kind of unofficial role taken on by someone (often mom) in many families — the person who is paying attention to the idea that there may be no physical scrapbook or set of journals to hand down to future generations and that bits-and-bytes memory objects need to be preserved somehow. Trendwatching.com has predicted a “burgeoning market” for products and services that protect the digital content that is “the nucleus of one’s personal brand.”

Entrustet was also featured on an NPR talkshow interview that can be listened to here.

2010 Recap: Entrustet

2010 was an action packed year for us at Entrustet. We first came up with the idea to create a system to allow people, companies and attorneys to transfer and delete digital assets back in November 2008, but we really hit our stride in 2010. In January, we closed our first round of funding from investors in the midwest and the east coast. We also were approved for the Wisconsin Technology Venture Loan, a program that awarded us a low interest loan from the State of Wisconsin. We’ve seen our team expand from 2 to 7 and seen our business grow with our team.

We’ve used this money to launch our product and become the thought leaders in issues dealing with death and the Internet. In March 2010, Jesse spoke at a panel at South By Southwest called People Die, Profiles Don’t. That same day, we launched Account Guardian, which allows consumers to create a list of their online accounts and computer files and decide which should be deleted and which should be transferred to heirs when they die. Our SXSW panel allowed us to break onto the scene and we received our first press features in The Washington Post and Rocketboom Tech.

We also calculated that three Facebook users die every single minute, a stat that has been published and blogged about all over the Internet. We’ve been featured in Mashable, TechCrunch, Forbes, Fox Business, Lifehacker, Wired, BBC, Financial Times and a whole host of other publications. I attended the inaugural Digital Death Day in Mountain View, CA and Jesse and I (along with A LOT of help from our interns) have written over 170 blog posts about digital estate planning, digital assets and websites issues relating to digital death.

We’ve used our press, blog and marketing to sign up over 20 attorneys for our attorney partner program. These attorneys represent over 15,000 estate planning clients and have learned how to create wills and trusts that incorporate digital assets. In fact, Jesse and I were the first people in North America to execute wills that include all of our digital assets. Our partners and attorneys at Neider and Boucher have taken the lead as the preeminent digital estate planning firm in the United States and probably the world.

In October, we officially launched our corporate partner program. Partner websites agree to allow their users to transfer or delete their online accounts when they pass away, and Entrustet notifies each partner website whenever one of their users passes away. We’ve partnered with a bunch of websites so far, including Flavors.me, Broadjam, Vendder, Goodsie, others.

We’ve also seen a huge change in public awareness and perception of our industry. When we first started, there was only one other company in the “digital death” space. Now there are over 50, including 4 who are direct competitors in the consumer market. We love competition, as we believe it validates our market. If you Google digital estate planning, digital assets or any other keywords, you’ll find hundreds of press mentions and blog posts about digital death.

We believe that we’re nearing a tipping point where planning for your digital death becomes mainstream. Facebook, Twitter and Google now all have death policies and have actively updated them in 2010. Facebook even admitted they have a death problem. Oklahoma just passed a law that requires websites to allow executors access to deceased people’s online accounts. I’m confident that other states in the US will pass similar laws in the near future. Entrustet was even featured in a book about our industry called Your Digital Afterlife: When Facebook, Flickr and Twitter Are Your Estate, What’s Your Legacy?

In November, Entrustet was selected for Start-Up Chile and Jesse and I moved to Santiago to continue to work on the business. We’ve been here for about a month now and have enjoyed meeting all of the other startups and experiencing life in another country. We’ve had the opportunity to meet successful Chilean entrepreneurs, professors, as well as Silicon Valley icons like Steve Blank and Vivek Wadwha.

We believe that 2011 will be the year that our industry becomes mainstream. More states will pass laws similar to Oklahoma’s and more websites will realize that they need to create a plan for dealing with user deaths. We believe that we are in the right place and have the right plan to help websites, consumers and attorneys create plans for dealing with digital death. Look for big things in the digital death space in 2011, with Entrustet leading the way.

Contributed by Nathan Lustig of Entrustet.

Capital Entrepreneurs Featured in Madison Magazine

Capital Entrepreneurs was featured in an article in Madison Magazine on expanding the number of urban high-tech business downtown and in the Capitol East District. CE members Nate Lustig of Entrustet and Heidi Allstop of Student SPILL were also featured in the article. From the article:

“A lot of the people in high-tech and creative industries really want urban settings,” says Cieslewicz. “With the Capitol East District we can offer them what they want, so they’ll develop all their amazing entrepreneurial ideas here rather than in Palo Alto or Ann Arbor or Boston.”

And what they want, according to Cieslewicz and others working hard to bring Capitol East to life, is to be where it’s all happening, both at work and at play.

“All of the startups I’ve been talking to want to be located downtown, within walking distance of other startups,” says Nate Lustig. “It’s really important to us to have that cluster of high-tech new businesses sharing ideas, people and all kinds of resources.”

Entrustet Settling into Startup Chile

Capital Entrepreneurs member company Entrustet moved to Santiago, Chile for 6 months for Startup Chile.  Jesse and Nathan have been in Chile for almost two weeks now and have started to settle in.  Here’s a summary of their blog posts and press coverage since they’ve moved to Chile.

Wisconsin IT Startup Relocates to Chile, Celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week

This week is global entrepreneurship week and Chile is celebrating. The Chilean Government wants to be the startup and innovation hub of South America and believes that it needs to inspire Chileans to take risks and start businesses. We attended an event in front of La Moneda yesterday called Chilean Entrepreneurship Day, which featured successful Chilean entrepreneurs, government officials and many Chilean students. It’s great to see a government that’s getting behind entrepreneurship and innovation and actually doing something. All governments say they want to foster innovation, but Chile is actually doing it. We’ll keep you updated on the Chilean startup scene, Start-Up Chile and other interesting things we find from Chile in our series here on WTN.

First Impressions from Santiago

Eastern Santiago very developed and clearly first world.  If it weren’t for everyone speaking Spanish, I could be in any other mid to large city in the US or Europe.  The center, where our office is located, is a little older and really busy, but still nice.  There’s people everywhere during the day.  It’s filled with shops, restaurants and businesses.  We’re not sure what it’s like at night, but people have told us it can get rough downtown.  There’s got to be at least 6-7 universities headlined by Universidad Católica and Universidad de Chile, so there’s lots of young people seemingly everywhere.

Digital Firm takes Chilean Detour

Now the two Madison entrepreneurs are on their way to Santiago, Chile, where they will spend six months running their two-year-old digital estate planning services company. Entrustet, which operates in the emerging “digital afterlife” industry, is among 25 companies from around the world that are receiving a $40,000 grant and free office space in Santiago in exchange for temporarily locating their business there.

“We think entrepreneurship and starting your own business is an adventure in itself, so why not keep the adventure going and go somewhere else?” said Lustig, 25.

Punishing Failure and the Ramifications on Entrepreneurship

On just the first day here in Santiago, Chile, I had a very interesting conversation with a thoughtful Chilean businessman about the cultural difference between the U.S. and Chile regarding the punishment of failure. He explained to me that the biggest impediment for entrepreneurs in Chile is the fact that Chilean culture harshly punishes failure in general. All the other Chileans in the room concurred.

As I spoke more with this Chilean businessman, it became truly apparent how debilitating it would be for entrepreneurs to grow up in a society that punishes failure. And it makes perfect sense, right? I mean, If I had my family and friends looking over my shoulder constantly and warning me not to fail, I would never have started Entrustet. I would never even have set up the food stand outside the Newton Little League field when I was fifteen.

Entrustet Selected for Startup Chile

Capital Entrepreneurs member company Entrustet was selected to be a part of Startup Chile.  Startup Chile is a program started by the Chilean Government to bring 25 startups from around the world to Chile to help foster entrepreneurship.

Entrustet’s founders, Nathan Lustig and Jesse Davis, will be moving to Santiago November 15th to continue to run Entrustet.  As part of Startup Chile, the Entrustet team will receive a $40,000 subsidy, free office space and connections into the Chilean entrepreneurship community.

The CE blog will post updates from Lustig and Davis as they run their business from Santiago.  We’ll also try to foster some ties between Madison and Santiago, which we believe are quite similar.  Both cities are up and coming startup hubs and we believe we can learn from each other.  Watch this space for continued updates.

Entrustet Featured on Mashable

Capital Entrepreneurs member Entrustet was featured on Mashable in an article titled 7 Resources for Handling Digital Life After Death by Erica Swallow.  From the link:

Entrustet is a free service that enables an account holder to pass on digital assets to up to 10 designated heirs and one executor, who is in charge of executing a person’s digital wishes after they pass away. Digital assets include social networks, financial accounts, blogs, e-mails and other Internet properties or files.

Check out the video above where Rocketboom Tech’s Ellie Rountree interviews Jesse Davis, co-founder of Entrustet about how the service works and why it is important.

Entrustet Featured on My Life Scoop

Capital Entrepreneurs member Entrustet was featured on My Life Scoop in an article written by Mashable’s Erica Swollow titled 7 ways to handle digital life after death. From the link:

Entrustet is a free service that enables an account holder to pass on digital assets to up to 10 designated heirs and one executor, who is in charge or executing a person’s digital wishes, after they pass away. Digital assets include social networks, financial accounts, blogs, e-mails and other Internet properties or files.

Check out the video above, in which Rocketboom Tech‘s Ellie Rountree interviews Jesse Davis, co-founder of Entrustet, about how the service works and why it is important.

Entrustet at Web 2.0 Startup Showcase in New York City

Entrustet participated in the Web 2.0 Startup Showcase in New York City on Wednesday.  The showcase brought 29 of the most interesting startups in the US into one room for an hour and a half of pitching to the Web 2.0 audience.  Tim O’Rielly, Fred Wilson and the crowd each picked winners to go on stage during the showcase.  Although Entrustet did not win, it was great recognition for a Capital Entrepreneurs startup.

Nevermind the Valley: Here’s Madison feature on Read Write Web

Audrey Watters of Read Write Web is doing a series about entrepreneurship outside Silicon Valley and Madison was the most recent featured city.  The article called Nevermind the Valley: Here’s Madison talks about Capital Entrepreneurs, Merlin Mentors, The University of Wisconsin and a bunch of CE member companies including Entrustet, Student Spill and Networked Insights.

Along with Steve Faulkner’s post on TechCrunch last month, Madison is really starting to get on the map as a startup hub in the midwest.  From the link:

Since early 2009, Capital Entrepreneurs has held a monthly meet-up for entrepreneurs. With over 60 member companies, the group has helped bring the Madison entrepreneur community together. The group also has its own Capital Entrepreneurs Angel List, based off of a similar program out of Venture Hacks.

Based off a successful program at MIT, Merlin Mentors pairs new startups with successful business people in the community, who act as mentors and as an informal board of advisors. Merlin (short for Madison Entrepreneur Resource, Learning and Innovation Network) Mentors was developed with the support of various programs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Entrustet Featured on DotWeekly

Entrustet, which allows people to make last wishes for their digital assets, was featured on DotWeekly, a blog about domain names.  From the link:

This really is a slick service and it is free! This type of service is very important to domain name investors! With domain parking accounts, registrar accounts, affiliate accounts, Paypal, Escrow, Sedo, Afternic and many more! Entrustet has been featured on TechCrunch.com, Mashable.com, BBC, LifeHacker.com and many many more! Here is a link to press coverage and some video.

Don’t think people die that often with digital assets? Entrustet did an in-depth study using Facebook data and it’s users, along with several other stats and has put a number on how many US Facebook members will die this year. 385,968 people! See the study and data to back it up here.

Capital Entrepreneurs Featured in Techcrunch

Steve Faulkner of GeoHuddle was invited to write a guest post about startup culture in Madison.  He wrote an article called Wisconsin: Beer, Cheese and…Startups, which included Capital Entrepreneurs, GeoHuddle, Networked Insights, Entrustet, Virent, PerBlue and Alice.  It’s great to see Madison being recognized as one of the new, up and coming hotbeds of entrepreneurship and technology startups.  From the article:

Most people associate Wisconsin with cheese and beer, but you should think about adding startups to that list. Led by a tidal wave of mostly young entrepreneurs, Madison, Wisconsin is staking a claim as the startup capital of the Midwest. Madison was recently ranked as the 7th most innovative city in the country by Forbes magazine – just above perennial powerhouse Boston, MA.

Several key organizations are driving the growing startup community. Capital Entrepreneurs is a group of over 56 companies that meet on a regular basis to help founders network and develop connections. MERLIN Mentors provides free mentoring services to new startups. Applicants are assigned a team of experienced entrepreneurs who help founders navigate many of the challenges facing a new company. These groups, along with the University of Wisconsin, are fostering a great culture for new startups.

Entrustet Featured in the Brunei Times

Capital Entrepreneurs Member company Entrustet was featured in the Brunei Times in an article about the need to appoint a digital executor to manage one’s digital assets when they pass away.  From the link:

NOT so long ago, we had safes and locked filing cabinets filled with our wills, financial information and important documents locked away and the combination or keys entrusted to a member of the family to take care of in the event of our passing.

These days in the era of digitilisation, it’s not just physical vital documents we have to worry about. With the advent of the Internet and the new digital culture, many of us also have to think about our digital assets and legacy; what would happen to the countless e-mails, on-line profiles, uploaded pictures and websites that we have cultivated so carefully in life, after our death?

As discussed previously, a Facebook profile can be memorialised after our demise by a loved one or a friend, but for those of us who choose not to have a digital afterlife, this would mean that the profile in question would have to be deleted at our behest. But how can we be assured that this instruction will be carried out?

Capital Entrepreneurs and Merlin Mentors Joint Meeting a Success

Last night, MERLIN Mentors and Capital Entrepreneurs held a joint event at the University Research Park.  It was a great opportunity for CE members to meet successful entrepreneurs in MERLIN Mentors and bridge the gap between some of the newer startups in town with those who have been successful in the past.

Entrustet, PerBlue, GoBuzz, GeoHuddle, Door-6, Student Spill, Y-Innovation, Sector 67, Hardin Design and Development and Badger Trips were among the companies in attendance representing Capital Entrepreneurs.

Entrustet Featured in Forbes

Capital Entrepreneurs member Entrustet was featured in Forbes in an article called How To Pass On Digital Assets When You’re Gone.  From the link:

One way to make a difficult situation easier on your loved ones is to use the services of a company like Entrustet that allows your executor to take control of your digital assets or, if you prefer, to delete them.

Nobody relishes the prospect of dealing with a matter like this. That said, dealing with it while you can is a small price for the ability to share important pieces of your life after you’re gone.

Entrustet Featured in The Wisconsin State Journal

Capital Entrepreneurs members Jesse Davis and Nathan Lustig of Entrustet were featured in a special section of The Wisconsin State Journal highlighting companies that are doing well in the economic recovery after the recession.  From the article called Local firm offers tools to manage digital assets after people die:

When you die, what happens to your Facebook page, your e-mail box or your online bill-paying accounts?

All of the password-protected Internet activity you engage in – does it just sit in cyberspace indefinitely?

A young Madison company, Entrustet, wants to help you decide who should be in charge of those accounts, and to give you the chance to wipe them out altogether if they are never meant to be viewed by someone else.

Entrustet is the brainchild of two young serial entrepreneurs and graduates of UW-Madison: Nathan Lustig and Jesse Davis.

Davis realized there were questions over access to cyber accounts while reading the New York Times best-selling book, “The World is Flat,” by Thomas Friedman. He was fascinated by the story of Justin Ellsworth, a U.S. Marine killed in Iraq in 2004, whose parents had to go to court to get access to Ellsworth’s Yahoo account.

“I’ve got over 170 online accounts,” Davis said. “It became clear to me all these mundane things we do, like checking e-mails or Facebook, they are real assets to us.”

An analyst with Gartner, the Stamford, Conn.-based global information technology research and consultant firm, said the concept holds a lot of promise.