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After experiencing the painful loss of her grandmother in 2019, Vicky Wilson and her family experienced first-hand the challenges of the current end-of-life administration practices in the UK. During the agonising hours spent ringing various organisations, repeating the same difficult conversation, Vicky was inspired to find a way to simplify the process. Alongside her mother and co-founder, Vicky created Settld, an automated notification service that informs organisations of a person’s death, so grieving family members don’t have to. Here, Vicky shares her story.

Every year in the UK, there are around 600,000 deaths. And when a person dies, they leave behind around 15 to 20 financial, digital and household accounts that need to be closed, amended or transferred. For families dealing with the trauma of losing a loved one, this can be challenging, both physically and emotionally.  

This was unfortunately the situation Vicky Wilson, Co-Founder and CEO of Settld, found herself in following the death of her grandmother.  

“My grandma passed away very sadly at the end of 2019. She and I were incredibly close,” Vicky explains. “When she died, the family asked me to take on some of the more pragmatic administrative tasks, and that opened my eyes to how difficult it is for people.” 

While grappling with the grief of losing a person they loved so dearly, Vicky and her mum spent hours contacting various organisations. 

“The process was extremely difficult,” Vicky (pictured here with her mum and grandmother) recalls. “We were contacting so many different companies and repeating the same upsetting conversation with strangers over the phone. I just kept thinking, ‘why isn’t there one form that can sort all this?’” 

Vicky eventually found the Tell Us Once service, which lets bereaved loved ones report the death of an individual to most governmental organisations through one form. 

“I decided to create something similar for various non-governmental accounts,” she says. “That was how Settld began.” 

Vicky took a sabbatical from her then role as EU Launch and Expansion Manager at Amazon, but her first step was to better understand the market she was trying to break into.  

In early 2020 Vicky launched a petition on Change.org, which called on the government to set out a Bereavement Standard to make it easier to close the accounts of passed loved ones. 

“We didn’t expect much to come from the petition, but in under two months, 93,000 people had signed it.”   

In early 2020, Vicky and her mum applied for an innovation grant and were awarded £50K and an additional £283K in non-dilutive grant funding from the government’s innovation agency Innovate UK. This gave Settld the capital it needed to build a minimal viable product. 

Settld then collaborated with the charity Cruse Bereavement Care and established the Bereavement Standard Working Group. This cross-organisational group gave Vicky and her mum access to various industry organisations, instigating conversations to understand the problems they faced. 

In January 2021, Settld closed a seed funding round of £500K, which was oversubscribed by £300K. 

Speaking about the fundraising process, Vicky says: “It’s really important to do your due diligence. The more research you do, the better the conversations seem to go with potential investors. I highly recommend asking for feedback after each pitch as well, so you can tailor your approach in the next round.” 

“But remember, investment is also a two-way affair and it’s important to get investors on board who are the right fit for your business.” 

Settld used the investment to grow its sales and development team and set about creating a SaaS platform that provides a single, secure, online channel through which bereaved individuals and legal professionals can initiate the death notification process across multiple private sector service providers. 

The innovative technology notifies all industries of a death, be it banks, broadband providers, mobile companies, insurers, social media platforms, or utilities, while also allowing users to close, transfer or amend accounts and establish date of death balances for probate. 

Settld’s notification service is free to the public, taking payment from third-party partner services. The company also works with service providers to achieve cost savings and improve customer experience for the clients they work with. 

The long-term goal for Settld is to become a global provider of affordable, easy to navigate end-of-life administration. 

 “The problem we’re solving is an international one,” Vicky continues. “Over the next three years, we’re looking to grow our service and expand internationally, starting with North America, Europe, then the Middle Eastern markets. 

Settld’s co-founder is also confident of the benefits of being recognised in the Go Further Investment Index. 

She says: “Our service is free to our users because we will never try to capitalise on grief in any way, so to have such recognition and visibility would be amazing.” 

Key takeaways:

  • Settldan automated account notification service that simplifies the end-of-life administration process for grieving loved ones, closed a seed funding round of £500K in January 2021.  
  • Settld was one of the innovative companies featured in this years Go Further Investment Index, which celebrates investment and innovation from across Scotland and the Northern Powerhouse - read this years index here.  
Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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