See the presentation a startup used to raise $3.7 million for an entirely new approach to helping millennials plan for their deaths

Cake's software is displayed on a laptop.
  • Cake helps people navigate end-of-life care with educational and planning resources.
  • On Wednesday, it raised $3.7 million in seed funding.
  • CEO Suelin Chen said the COVID-19 pandemic made end-of-life planning easier to talk about.

The internet has changed a lot about healthcare, but it hasn’t yet upended the opaque and grief-ridden process of end-of-life care.

That was what Suelin Chen realized as she was working as a healthcare-technology consultant: While companies were trying to use technology to extend peoples’ lives, no one was helping to make those last weeks or months any easier for loved ones or patients. So in 2014, she left IMS Health Capital to start what is now Cake. On Wednesday, Cake raised $3.7 million in seed funding from AARP, InHealth Ventures, Two Lanterns, and Portfolia’s Aging and Longevity Fund, among others.

Cake is essentially the Tripadvisor for death, Chen said. Anyone can use Cake’s library of articles and other educational materials for free to explore topics such as how to use an estate planner and how to formalize a will. People can also use a premium version to begin planning their end-of-life care and to formalize their wishes with a personalized consultant.

The most popular age group of people using Cake to plan for the future consists of 25- to 34-year-olds, Chen said. She added that, aside from that age groups’ comfort with using services online, the COVID-19 pandemic made it so that grief and loss became easier to talk about because so many people had experienced it firsthand.

“It has really helped reduce the stigma and increase motivation for people to plan their affairs,” Chen said. “Losing people is a shared human experience that everyone goes through. These experiences feel really isolating, but people are going through them all the time.”

Cake provided its seed-series pitch deck to Insider. The deck was slightly modified from the original to remove information about Cake’s customers.

See the 10-slide pitch deck that Cake used to raise $3.7 million for its end-of-life-care software.

Cake makes a website and an app that people can use to learn about and plan for end-of-life care.


In addition to Chen’s experience in healthcare-technology consulting, Cake’s leadership team brings experience running large technology companies and digital-health companies.


Chen said that in the US, peoples’ hesitancy to discuss end-of-life planning is understandable but also creates unnecessary suffering when time comes to put the plan into action. Cake’s data indicated that those patients who thoroughly discussed their plans with loved ones had an easier time with the process.


Chen said she’s always asked whether working in death planning feels depressing. But, she said, it’s made her more grateful for the things and people she cares about. “It’s one life we have, so we have to make the most of it,” she added.


Cake is tapping into a massive industry in which costs have largely remained opaque. Chen said the death-planning industry can be predatory, with loved ones emotional and vulnerable during planning, and perhaps unable to sift through large amounts of research to find the best options.


Cake users are given recommendations for services, products, and other needs through its recommendation algorithm. It collects data from users’ behavior on the website and uses it to refine recommendations. For instance, it could help a user find a meaningful way to use a loved one’s ashes.


Cake has also started selling its software to large companies, including financial institutions that handle retirement planning and healthcare organizations. Chen said that people appreciate being offered such services upfront in industries where death is more of a taboo.


Cake has nearly 100,000 visitors to its website and app per day, Chen said.


The company’s board of advisors has helped counsel Cake on its partnerships with other death-planning startups and companies. It’s also helped develop emotionally sensitive programs for people experiencing grief.

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