From the Blog

Losing someone you care about is definitely hard, but honoring their final desires can provide a sense of satisfaction in the midst of grief. However, people avoid considering their death, even in the event they believe it’s a country mile off, and therefore don’t share their particular posthumous tastes with friends and family.

End-of-life planning startup Cake is attempting to change that. The company is borne out of the indisputable fact that planning demise today make things less complicated for family members down the road.

Cake stops working so what can be an overwhelming procedure in to a group of easy questions to help individuals make decisions around medical care remedies, funeral arrangements, estate planning, and how they wish to be recalled after they’re gone.

“Ignoring the truth that we’re all mortal is certainly not helping anybody, and you will actually utilize the fact that life is finite being a positive and motivating force, so that as ways to cultivate gratitude,” says Cake co-founder and CEO Suelin Chen ’03 SM ’07 PhD ’10.

People concur that the questions Cake asks have actually crucial answers, but those questions in many cases are left to relatives and buddies just who must take to their best to honor a liked one’s desires. At options Cake offers, users can decide who are able to make treatment choices for the kids, if to obtain life insurance coverage, what you should do making use of their social media marketing accounts after they’re gone, and whom they desire (or don’t need) at their funeral.

“The room and solutions are very fragmented, so we carry it altogether in a single destination,” Chen states. “We state ‘Here are all areas you need to consider,’ because people don’t know what they don’t understand. We after that make suggestions from the issues should always be doing, store all of that online securely inside profile, and allow you to share it using essential individuals in your life.”

Chen claims using Cake is a straightforward and thought-provoking knowledge that may give folks peace of mind.

“People are really surprised that one may produce a subject like death intriguing and reflective, and in addition illuminating and positive,” Chen claims. “what you need for end-of-life is in fact what is essential to you in life. With all the title Cake, we’re actually trying to emphasize the fact end-of-life planning is a positive act, a gift. You need to honor your lifetime therefore the life of those you adore. Cake actually image of celebrating life milestones, and even though losing some one is always difficult, thinking about death in as well as is perhaps not naturally negative.”

Cake has recently partnered with life insurance policies businesses, medical care companies, and financial institutions available its solutions for their clients. Now, it’s growing to help people with their particular end-of-life plans. The progress is exciting for Chen, whoever dedication to effect has led the lady down an unconventional path to entrepreneurship.

A researcher with a objective

Inside 2000s, Chen spent nearly ten years at MIT making her degrees, learning biology and biomedical engineering being an undergraduate before earning her master’s and PhD in MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Through that time, Chen never ever when took a business or entrepreneurship course.

“I’d no aspirations becoming a business owner, but I wanted to get a positive effect on society, and I believed medical care ended up being how to do this,” Chen states. “I also liked engineering, so I believed just like the easiest way to use my skills wasn’t to be always a doctor, but to use engineering to fix dilemmas in healthcare.”

After finishing the woman PhD this season, Chen became the director of The Laboratory at Harvard, an interdisciplinary system that emphasizes discovering through real-world experimentation, where she states she “caught the business bug.”

“Business is the way you have these some ideas into the globe to the touch real folks where you can real influence,” Chen claims.

In 2014, Chen decided to attend the MIT Hacking Medicine Grand Hack. Whenever she registered for event, she shared her idea of using technology to enhance people’s circumstances round the end of the life. Additionally attending the big event that time ended up being Mark Zhang, a palliative care doctor and technologist, who suggested to Chen they synergy. The set ended up winning first place, and continued looking into how to address people’s anxiety about planning the termination of life.

“Eventually everyone perish, and it also didn’t really look like anybody had been paying attention to that,” Chen says. “It’s a part of the human being knowledge that each and every solitary person undergoes. Everybody experiences loss within their life, and I just held finding its way back to, ‘how come that experience nevertheless so very bad even though we’re pouring much money into the end of life, specifically from the medical care point of view?’”

Chen returned to MIT occasionally to get assistance from the Venture Mentoring Service, and she states her MIT connections have aided greatly in her change from a specialist to a president.

“I’ve emailed MIT [VMS] e-mail lists often times, and I’m continuously conversing with friends from MIT who will be business owners,” Chen says. “So nearly all my classmates have begun companies. Whenever you’re a business owner, obtaining the MIT network is incredible.”

Thinking about life to plan for death

Chen and Zhang in the beginning thought their particular solution would be most readily useful for individuals closer to the end of their resides, however their very early testing dispelled that concept.

“There’s truly complex therapy about how precisely men and women engage with their mortality, and just because you are near death doesn’t imply you’re going to be amenable to considering it,” Chen says. “Conversely, younger, healthy individuals were really contemplating what we had been doing.”

Chen states millennials tend to be Cake’s second-biggest consumer demographic. She guesses that is because they are beginning families, concerned about aging parents, or are simply pragmatic and interested in learning their death. In addition, in place of doing preparing solely in writing, they might be expecting technology to assist them to with this task.

Undoubtedly, Cake’s questions address major problems, like ensuring security for planners’ dependents, and issues having even more related to private flavor, like whether family should grow a tree in planner’s memory. (Sixty-seven per cent of participants state yes.) Chen says perhaps one of the most well-known subjects could be the type of music planners’ want played at their funeral.

“We definitely understand this is just a hard subject for most of us, therefore we tend to be centered on obtaining the barrier to entry only feasible, and getting people normalized to contemplating death and dying,” Chen states. “exactly what we’re wanting to do is ensure it is much easier for individuals to think about exactly what they’d want for end-of-life and also to share that information with regards to family, and in addition make it easier to understand what their loved ones desire.”

Chen failed to reveal information about Cake’s enterprise consumers or perhaps the number of individuals using its services, but she says some one answers a question about their particular end-of-life choices every 5 minutes on Cake’s system, that will be no-cost for people.

The energy is a type of vindication for Chen, whom as CEO has invested the last four many years raising knowing of a subject that many folks would like to ignore. In the middle of building Cake’s solution and securing very early consumers, with Chen immersed when you look at the information on demise, she additionally obtained a collision course in life, having two young ones who will be both still in age three. She sees numerous parallels between exactly how men and women enter and exit life, and believes that the same quantity of idea and consideration should go into both occasions.

“[Cake] is all about folks obtaining a feeling for what’s vital that you them in life and communicating that to their family,” Chen says. “That’s what it’s exactly about.”