We talked to Graciëlla van Vliet of Closure, a platform to unburden families after passing by finalizing all contracts, subscriptions and accounts of deceased people and here is what she said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Graciëlla van Vliet: Both my family, colleagues, friends and me have been so fortunate to have been doing well during these COVID times: healthy, able to continue work and striving to focus on the benefits instead of the downsides, such as the reduction in travel time and the luxury of having the time to take a step back and reflect.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Closure.
Graciëlla van Vliet: I co-founded Closure 3.5 years ago, after just having graduated from my MSc in Econometrics, next to which I had been working as a management trainee in China. My co-founder Chantal, who is also a good friend of mine, and I started the company as we were eager to embark on an entrepreneurial journey together. This journey ended up being Closure, a platform to unburden families after passing by finalizing all contracts, subscriptions and accounts of deceased people. This idea was triggered as the grandmother of Chantal continued to live on Facebook, although she had already passed away 5 years before. This will probably be recognizable for many others, as most people nowadays have accounts such as Facebook. Unfortunately, everybody will deal with the death of a loved one during his or her life. To shape the broader picture, of course, Facebook is one account, but there are many more subscriptions, contracts and accounts that have to be taken care of, such as utilities, bank accounts, insurance, charity, newspapers, sports clubs, telecom, and so on.
How does Closure innovate?
Graciëlla van Vliet: Closure unburdens relatives by finalizing all contracts, subscriptions and accounts of a deceased person in one central place. This saves families a lot of time, hassle and painful confrontation.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Graciëlla van Vliet: As our company deals with legacy after a passing, we’ve been able to continue offering our services during the pandemic. However, as probably most companies, we have been affected by the pandemic, as it has shifted the way we work, and we certainly sensed uncertainty with our partners. Happily, with our eager and flexible team, we have been able to adapt quickly and minimize the negative impact.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Graciëlla van Vliet: As mentioned above, we have been blessed with having an ambitious team that is not only able but also willing to change his or her daily role and just do whatever is necessary at a certain moment. In our company culture, transparency has always been important. However, due to the pandemic, we took this transparency to the next level, which helped us a lot in having everybody understand certain impacts and be on the same page. Hence, the pandemic taught us, amongst others, that incorporating radical transparency as a core value in our company culture has shown to be invaluable.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Graciëlla van Vliet: Before the pandemic, the relationship revolved around meeting physically and having lots of one-to-one contacts. As this is impossible now, we have a chance to increase our efficiency while keeping the personal connection with our partners. E.g. enabling our customers to plan demos and meetings with our team through video call without losing the personal touch.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Graciëlla van Vliet: We have secured additional capital, such that we have been able to continue our current growth pace.
Your final thoughts?
Graciëlla van Vliet: To summarize, two lessons we learned from the pandemic is that having a flexible team has shown to be a key factor for us in overcoming the situation, supported by a radically transparent way of sharing information within the team to get everybody on the same page. Therefore, we are grateful, as it allowed us to be of continued support to all who have lost a loved one.
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