How We Started A $480K/Year Service That Lets People Manage Their Digital Inheritance

Ana Mineva
Founder, DGLegacy
$40K
revenue/mo
2
Founders
Employees
DGLegacy
from Berlin, Germany
started August 2020
$40,000
revenue/mo
2
Founders
Employees
4.61M
alexa rank
18
followers
17
followers
6
subs
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How We Started A $480K/Year Service That Lets People Manage Their Digital Inheritance

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

My name is Ana, and I’m the CEO of the global digital inheritance document and password manager DGLegacy.

DGLegacy is a password management and asset protection digital inheritance service through which, in the case of an unforeseen event happening to you, people whom you designate as beneficiaries will be proactively informed about your assets and will be able to identify and locate them, thus minimizing the chance of an unclaimed asset.

We are solving the multi-billion dollar global problem of abandoned assets. These are assets that stay in insurance companies, banks, cryptocurrency wallets, and asset management companies after their owners pass away, instead of reaching the rightful beneficiaries.

In just one year after the launch, we have already 5000 subscribers, with a strongly increasing rate of growth.

Product overview video:

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What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

Working hard over the years, I soon realized that most of my assets are either digital or physical but with digital access. Even if we talk about simple assets such as bank accounts, insurance policies, small investments, and digital wallets, I realized that they were all stored in so many different systems and repositories that it was difficult to even for me to keep track of them.

As for my extended family and loved ones – they had almost no idea about any of the assets that I owned. The fact that I’m an expat made this lack of transparency even bigger.

I was looking for a solution for digital legacy management, but I was surprised most people were using do-it-yourself hacks, such as storing information on their computer, on flash drives, google sheets, or even printing on paper. None of these solutions was working - they couldn’t proactively inform my loved ones in the case of a fatal event with me, the family members could easily forget or lose access over time, and the data was not encrypted - prone to a high cyber security risk, as well as the risk of theft or damage.

I wanted to build a working solution for that problem, especially having witnessed how unforeseen events had left people’s partners, orphaned children, and close family members deserted, with no clue about their assets and unable to maintain their standard of living.

This was the last thing that I wanted to happen to my family and my hard-earned assets.

I wished we had a digital legacy management tool where I could see a snapshot of my assets and could decide what parts to share, with whom, and when.

This is how DGLegacy was born. My co-founder and I created the solution we were craving: the ability to help people protect their passwords, digital and financial assets, and secure financially their loved ones.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

Our team and I believe in the Lean philosophy - short feedback loops, ideally zero Lean wastes such as waiting time or excessive batches of work in progress, quick response to changes.

We’ve built our product, design, and engineering processes around these principles. Our team members from the various functions work closely together with the common goal of delivering high customer value.

Try and explore what channels work for you, and then regularly reevaluate. With the growth of the business, your acquisition strategy will also evolve.

Also, each one of us in the company knows the high responsibility that we have and our very important mission - people depend on us to protect their digital and financial assets, their legacy and rely on that DGLegacy will ensure peace of mind for them and their loved ones when it matters the most. We have an extremely high sense of mission and responsibility towards our members.

Also, we strongly believe in customer feedback. We seek it as often as we can and act upon it by embedding the learnings into our product design and development.

Regarding our first MVP, it was with limited functionality but we wanted it to work perfectly. The reason is that one significant requirement for all financial applications is trust. If you have a half-baked product, with half-working functionalities, it will be difficult to build trust in your customers.

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Now we know the secret of our exceptional designer - he has a hidden assistant

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February 20, 2020, Peter Minev, working on something

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Old Dashboard

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MVP Home Page

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MVP "How it works" page

Describe the process of launching the business.

We were not naive and we knew that the MVP launch is just the start of a new stage of our company. A new stage full of endless learning, adapting, and improving cycles for our product and even our business model.

I think this is the key to the success - not a single stellar launch, but rather many small improvements towards the end goal, mostly after you launch.

We also knew that businesses that create new markets have longer times to start revenue generation, compared to businesses in existing markets. So we had to make sure we ensure the necessary financing for the start of the project.

Getting financing for an early-stage business is never easy. We found several angel investors from our network who agreed to write us tickets, each one between $20k and $40k, but we needed more financing - our conservative plan was for $500k.

We were lucky that we could complement the angel investors and add the additional required funding from our savings. This was of course a big risk, but at this stage, I’m grateful that we took that decision. A year and a half after the launch of the service, we are closing our first seed round at an $8M valuation - not a bad achievement and return of our investment for just a year and a half!

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

As a formal launch of our service, we decided to make an official announcement through our partners from CISION. It was August 11, 2020. I was in the middle of my EMBA studies on the campus of ESMT, Berlin, when my co-founder Peter messaged me, that our press release "German Asset Protection Startup DGLegacy Aims to Solve the Multi-Billion-Dollar Global Problem of Unclaimed Assets" was out and picked up from most of the best media outlets in the world.

I will not hide that for the founders of every startup, the official launch of the product is something very exciting and requires a strong will and getting out of the comfort zone to be done.

At the launch of the service in August 2020, we decided that we’ll try many other different channels, to evaluate their performance specifically for our product. Only in the first 3 months after launch, we tested 14 different acquisition channels!

Then, in the course of the first year after launch, we ended up testing 19 channels in total, e.g. native advertising through Taboola and Outbrain. We found out that for us work best channels with the clear intent of the people, for example, search ads. Other channels that work well are those where you can more precisely target your target audience, for example, based on life situation change, etc. - this is usually possible in social platforms.

Native content didn’t work well for us. It’s good for brand awareness, to convey your messages, but they don’t sell your product. Another channel that we gave it a try was display advertising through LinkedIn and Facebook, and the results weren’t sufficient enough to keep using them. We wanted to explore as many as possible, and to see which of them work best for us.

Surely after the initial testing, we left only those channels that we saw that work for us. Those are a combination of paid search, affiliate, content marketing, and PR.

We consistently work on creating valuable content for our prospects and existing users. This also helps our overall digital marketing strategy in several aspects: lead generation, brand positioning, customer retention, and engagement, supports our SEO and social media marketing initiatives.

A good example for content pieces that worked very well is “The emergence of digital inheritance fintech services” and “The retirement planning of the future and why it won’t be even close to what we know today

Another example is our dedicated DGLegacy Medium channel. It took time and effort to deserve a dedicated DGLegacy channel, but it paid off because when the editors spot a good piece of the article it is distributed for free among the Medium email subscribers.

In terms of PR, any campaign could be successful, as long as there is something for people to learn from you and it is presented interestingly. One of my favorites is the announcement of the upcoming launch of DGLegacy’s Digital Will. It was picked up again from some of the best media outlets, reaching millions of people. Which has a great impact, not only in terms of brand awareness but also in terms of brand positioning and trust.

Building a successful business is a marathon. Have patience and persistence. Continuously iterate and improve. Proactively seek feedback. And don’t forget - have fun along the way.

But my suggestion for every starting business is to try and explore what channels work for you and then regularly reevaluate. With the growth of the business, your acquisition strategy will also evolve.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

We plan to continue to evolve our product with the main focus to further improve our Product KPIs, which reflect how effectively we enable our members to protect their passwords, digital and financial assets.

Growth is a secondary focus for 2022, but still, we plan to reach 20 000 members by the end of the year - 4x growth compared to 2021, despite that not being our top priority. Then for 2023, our primary focus will be growth. Our ambition for 2023 is to reach 100 000 members.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

We learn so much every day, and that’s one of the most exciting parts of building a company!

We even say that if we don’t learn anything new on a particular day, it is not a good day for us as a company.

One of the biggest learnings for us was that creating a new market, in the way that DGLegacy creates the Digital Inheritance market, is very different from launching a company in an existing market.

Digital legacy management was practically non-existent, despite the huge global problem. So as a first step, we had to educate the people about the problem, then educate them that digital inheritance services are a great solution for them, and finally convince them that DGLegacy is the right service.

Not an easy task, and nothing to compare with ordering pizza online or hailing a taxi from an app.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

One of the most valuable tools for our business is Tableau. We know that data is super important for the success of our product, and we’ve built multiple dashboards in Tableau to reflect important KPIs and metrics for our business. They help us move in the right direction.

For email marketing, we are using Mailchimp. We are not particularly happy due to the very steep pricing, but at this stage, we haven’t prioritized migration to another solution.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Some of my favourite books are The Fifth Discipline, Crossing the Chasm, Tipping Point, Building Tech, Innovator's Dilemma, Positioning, Blue Ocean Strategy, Leading Change, Good Strategy - Bad Strategy, The Toyota Way, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Flow, Thinking Fast and Slow.

These are books that have fundamentally shaped my thinking.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Building a successful business is a marathon. Have patience and persistence. Continuously iterate and improve. Proactively seek feedback. And don’t forget - have fun along the way.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

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Ana Mineva   Founder of DGLegacy
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story

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