Cake, a Boston-based end-of-life planning platform, has raised a $1.35 million seed round led by local venture capital firm Pillar.
Founded by Suelin Chen and Mark Zhang, Cake aims to help people and their loved ones think about their final wishes by asking simple questions about life and death in an almost Tinder-like format. Using the answers, the platform creates a “living document” that can be easily updated and shared with others.
Cake’s seed round comes at a time when few people have written a will or advance care directive, whether they are healthy or seriously ill. A study by Health Affairs earlier this year found that only 33 percent of healthy people and 38 percent of those who are seriously ill have done so, despite doctors recommending that everyone have one. The lack of a will or advance care directive can result in financial losses, family conflicts and unwanted medical interventions.
“How can anyone respect a patient’s wishes at the end, unless they know what they are?”
“How can anyone respect a patient’s wishes at the end, unless they know what they are? Cake’s opportunity is to reduce stress and to protect dignity for millions of people, likely avoiding billions in unwanted medical interventions,” said Russ Wilcox, a partner at Pillar who is joining Cake’s board of directors, in a statement.
While Cake, a 2015 MassChallenge finalist, is available as a consumer product, the startup is also making the platform available through healthcare payers, providers and systems. The company said its currently in pilots with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Harvard Pilgrim, and Massachusetts General Hospital, among other organizations.
“Harvard Pilgrim recognizes the large expenditures that go into the last six months of life, and Cake provides a novel approach to improve palliative care,” Steven Fink, Harvard Pilgrim’s business planning director, said in a statement.
The questions given by Cake are asked in the form of statements — such as “I have a healthcare proxy” or “I have a living will or advance directive” — that can be answered with a green checkmark or a red X. Questions can include matters that don’t directly impact will planning like, “There are places I’d like to see before I die.”
Based on the answers, Cake providers users with recommendations on what to do next for end-of-life planning. Next steps can include writing a bucket list, creating a plan for what you would like to happen with your body when you die and so on. The platform can also connect users with a personal concierge, which costs $120 for a single one-on-one consultation.
Cake’s seed round — which also included participation from Launch Capital, Arkitekt Ventures and Honeycomb Portfolio — will be used for marketing and software development.