Given the amount of time that many of us devote to our Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts, managing what other people know about our lives has become a full-time job for some.
Anticipating that we will want to have it managed after we pass away is something that Andrew Smith was pinning his hopes on when he launched his Final Wish website nine months ago.
"I see … this whole movement happening now where people are concerned about their digital and social media legacy," says Mr. Smith, the company's founder and chief executive officer. He started the Vancouver-based business after a six-day stay in hospital got him thinking about life and death.
Final Wish allows users to make decisions not only about their funerals but who will have access to their social media accounts and who might look after their pets.
Mr. Smith says the company has had hundreds of sign-ups to its subscription-based service, which costs $25 a year, in addition to registrations on the pared-down, free version of the site. But he would like to move that into the thousands.
Mr. Smith and his business were profiled in a Small Business Challenge feature in The Globe and Mail in April of last year.
Since its launch, Final Wish has been featured on a major radio station in Vancouver, a number of newspapers and a British website called Death Goes Digital, about digital trends in the funeral industry.
"This whole movement is happening and we're just glad to be kind of in the forefront," he says.
Since the Challenge article ran, Mr. Smith has hired a part-time digital specialist, paid for social media and digital marketing campaigns and improved the website's functionality.
He is adding new features, such as My Treasures, which will allow users to upload photos of possessions along with the person to whom they want them to leave them, and a blog with humorous posts about the final wishes of famous people such as William Shakespeare and Genghis Khan.
Mr. Smith says he has embraced some of the advice from experts in the Challenge story. One was giving visitors to his website an idea of exactly who was behind it, so he added an Our Team section with brief bios of the staff.
He was also advised to beef up the website's security, mainly because of the personal information that would be uploaded onto it. As a result, Final Wish is now hosted by Amazon Web Services, and financial transactions are handled by an online technology company called Stripe, with no credit card details stored on the site.
All of that comes at a cost, so Mr. Smith is considering taking on an investor, such as a life insurance company, end-of-life organization, a genealogy site or online legal site.
"If the right person came along that had the same values and believed in the product like we do with open arms, I'd be willing to accept an investor," he says.
In the meantime, Mr. Smith says he is also making connections, both in Canada and abroad, and improving his product.
"Growth will be our main focus this year," he says. "We have an amazing and unique website, we just need to let people know where to find us and to offer the best customer service possible."