How They Raised Series A: Farewill

The Family (AAA) Stories

Pietro Invernizzi
Sep 3, 2019 · 6 min read

Life’s two great certainties are death and taxes. Farewill is hoping to combine the two, delivering simple, quick and easy-to-use tools for will writing online. In just under two years, it is already the largest will writer in the UK, writing more than 1 in 30 wills. Co-founder Dan Garrett was kind enough to give us an inside look at how they raised their Series A round in January 2019 🤖

Image for post
Image for post

How long did it take you to raise Series A?

  • I think we did a pretty good job of preparing — starting off by meeting other CEOs who’d gone through their Series A (Tim from Tessian, Christian from Paddle, Adam from SuperCarers, Julia from CrowdJustice among others). They kindly went through their decks and models, talked about what went well and which bits they’d improve. I don’t think we’d have raised half as much without their
    help. Also Mathilde Collin’s legendary Series A & B decks were incredibly helpful.
  • After the first 2 weeks of preparation, I spent 4 weeks by myself, getting everything straight in my head, and then a first version of the deck. Over that time, I was running things past my co-founder Tom and a few of our investors.
  • One of the most frustrating points was feeling like I’d cracked it, then hearing from Tracy Dorée and Alex Dunsdon (two of our seed round investors), that it just wasn’t quite there.
  • I went back to the drawing board and re-did the deck 5 times in total, until I felt it did our team, product and market justice. Then it was time to go!

Did you think about fundraising/networking with Series A investors since the day you raised seed, or did you ignore it until you felt 100% ready?

How much did you raise and from whom?

  • We were also delighted to bring Taavet Hinrikus on (co-founder of Transferwise), who’s given me and my co-founder some of the best advice we’ve had so far.
  • It’s tough to put a number on what to raise and it’s got pros and cons either way. Tim was incredibly straightforward and honest with us. Everyone in Augmentum believes in our market and didn’t want us to raise too little. There’s a massive opportunity in changing the way the world deals with death and we put a good case forward for how we’d use the cash.

What was the biggest difference between raising Seed & Series A?

  • For us, we’d grown to be the biggest will writer in the UK within 18 months of launch, so the traction was there. But we went in head-first on our story. Not many investors have seen the death market before and it’s an incredible space for disruption.
  • So it was similar-ish to our seed round — pitching a big vision for what we wanted to change, but with a bit more under our belt to justify the size of round.

What do you wish you had known before starting? What would you do differently?

  • Which plays out into what I’d do slightly differently next time — you’ve got to remember that the investor is buying into the market as much as you and your traction. If you’ve never seen what the wills and probate industry looks like, or how it ties into wealth transfer and a huge range of related services, then it’s hard to put that model together yourself. That’s as much of the pitch as your product and growth — and you don’t want an investor to draw a different conclusion about the scale of the opportunity.

What can you tell us about the lawyers, financial advisors or other service providers you used?

Was your data organised? Did you build a data room?

  • I’m from a design background — having started Farewill out of the Royal College of Art — so I’m meticulous about formatting. The feedback was that our data room was definitely unconventional, but also definitely the most stylish anyone had seen (not sure I’d do this again).

What did you learn re deck, pitching & storytelling during funding?

  • When you walk into a VC with a wills & probate business you can get funny looks. It’s not a market people are used to, and there can be raised eyebrows at the size of the market. Figuring out how to dispel those myths on slide 1 is the challenge.
  • Lots of investors are used to seeing property technology pitch decks which often start “Buying a property is the biggest financial transaction of your life”. I like to go in, reference that, then say “it’s not actually true, the biggest financial event of your life is when you die.” That normally gets a good reaction.
  • Secondly, in terms of framing our market, there’s really a timing effect in there. Over the next 10 years, £1T of assets are going to pass intergenerationally. It’s hugely increasing year on year as a result of baby boomers and the housing boom — meaning lots more people are dying, with a lot more money.
  • Being able to drop in the trillion always helps.

Any other thoughts / anecdotes about your Series A?

Image for post
Image for post
  • Overwhelmingly I enjoyed it. I met some brilliant, thoughtful investors — all of whom were respectful of my time and genuinely interested in the business. Aside from the team at Augmentum who are all phenomenal and entrepreneurs themselves, I particularly like the Creandum team — especially Johan and Sanna — they were kind, customer-focused, and with a great track record
  • It’s also really important to have a cheerleader with know-how. For me that was Tracy Dorée — who chairs our board — and to whom I am forever grateful!

The Family (AAA) is dedicated to helping ambitious founders raise the best Series A possible. Education is a big part of that, so keep an eye out for more of our content. And of course, if you’re thinking of raising a Series A in the next 4–12 months and want to take part in our programme, get in touch! (👉 pietro@thefamily.co / aaa.thefamily.co)

The Family (AAA)

Everything you need to raise the Series A you deserve

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store