Affio: Ian Gosling
The start-up's founder discusses the evolution of 'lawtech' and how his business got over it's biggest challenge on a shoestring budget
Name: Ian Gosling
Company name: Affio
Date launched: 15/04/15
Tell us what your business does:
Affio – an acronym of ‘affairs in order’ – is an online tool that brings wills to the mass market by making them affordable and simple to create. People can create their own will for just £60 and our users are able to make unlimited updates free of charge.
Our goal is to make legal processes and documents clear, simple and accessible for every man and woman.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
A few months after my daughter was born my wife told me that, since there was now three of us to consider, we both needed to make our wills. It’s simply one of those things you need to do to look after your family. I thought someone would have made the process of writing a will easy to complete online, without forking out for a lawyer.
However the websites available looked out-dated and untrustworthy, and made the process seem over complicated and legalistic. Almost everyone needs to write a will at some point, and it seemed to me that this common need was being very badly met.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Law is a heavily regulated sector, and so the government does a lot of customer research for you. In our case the Legal Services Consumer Panel told us there were 1.3 million wills made each year in England and Wales and, using ONS population data, we worked out there are 13 million people between 30 and 54 who don’t have a will.
The other market research we did was talking to people directly, which resulted in a lot of positive feedback. Writing a will is one of those tasks everyone knows they should do but avoids because it’s too much hassle. Our job is to make it clear and simple.
What were you doing before starting up?
I was running a small consultancy that worked with businesses going through digital transition. This helped me identify law as one of the next big sectors to go through a digital transformation: lawtech is probably two or three years behind the fintech sector.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
I decided that I wanted to work for myself around 15 years ago and I ended up doing that as a consultant but I have always really wanted to run my own product business.
How did you raise the money?
I was fortunate enough to know the person who became our lead angel investor – Sean Phean, founder of Multimap. Together with friends, family and contacts he has helped us put together a consortium of very supportive investors.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
It’s incredibly simple. We charge a user £60 to create a will, and users are then able to update this as many times afterwards for free. We are an e-commerce business selling a personalised digital product but as we develop we hope to deliver more products.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Developing the algorithm that creates the will was a big challenge undertaken by my business partners Ashley and Max. The next step – building the algorithm into the app on a shoestring budget – was a bigger technical challenge than we anticipated. We got through this by sheer perseverance.
What was your first big breakthrough?
Our very first customer. That first drop of revenue is very sweet.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
The main thing is to keep going. You can’t win the game unless you’re playing. A lot of success is just down to unwavering determination.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
Doing this or something very similar to it. The aim in five years’ time is for Affio to be the go-to place to create your will. The hope is to expand our services to encompass the creation of other legal documents as well, making it simpler for people to get their affairs in order.