Like many big ideas, FutureVault started on the back of a napkin in 2014, ironically with an inclination towards getting away from using paper. But first, let us back up a bit. FutureVault was founded by three colleagues who collectively had spent decades in technology, media, and finance. They had worked together for a number of years at a large, publicly-traded Internet television technology company that had streamed petabytes of content and data to consumers around the world for large media companies. Further, they were actively engaged in the North American startup community from an advisory and investment perspective and were closely monitoring a number of macro and discrete trends within the worlds of online streaming, the sharing economy, cloud storage, and related services, FinTech and AI. They founded a technology incubator called SB2 Group with a mission of building applications and technology that would add meaning, value, and simplicity in our quickly evolving technology-driven world.
Across these and other sectors a common theme emerged – our digital lives had become too complicated, overwhelming and stressful. Despite technology empowering, connecting and entertaining our society like never before, it came at a tremendous cost – information overload. Information was flowing through our televisions, radios, computers (at work and at home), digital billboards, and now our tablets and smartphones and other connected devices.
Consumers began creating and distributing more content than ever before from social media, user generated content, and video streaming to the digital transformation of documentation and the recording and transmission of big data. In fact, Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google was quoted in 2010 saying, “There were 5 Exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization through 2003, but that much information is now created every 2 days.”
With information traveling at the speed of light, it was also piling up at proportionate rate. There were too many apps, devices, and files. There was too much data and information. Our stuff was everywhere. And by stuff we mean everything from bank statements and legal agreements to our kids’ report cards and immunization records. Paper documents in filing cabinets at home, at work at other people’s homes (parents, kids, cottages) and in banker boxes and in storage. Digital documents were on home and work computers, old hard drives in the basement, on Dropbox, Google Drive, in our Outlook clients, Gmail, Yahoo mail and Hotmail. We were all drinking from the metaphorical fire hose of information, and it was leaking and spilling everywhere, which lead to us asking fundamental questions: What information and documents are important?
We distilled this down to information that pertained to money and memories. In the case of the latter, our live’s emotional mementos, generally, were being served adequately by photo and video storage platforms. But we realized our personal, financial and legal documents were not.
Then we asked: What do we choose to save? How and where do we save it? What do we do with it once saved? How do we keep track of key dates and assets? Who can help us manage this key information? How do we keep it safe and secure (especially in a time of emerging cyber threats and identify theft)?
As a group of dads, we wanted to figure out how to maintain a safely organized digital estate, no matter the size, for our kids (for now and after we’re gone – yes, a sad thought but real). As an example, one of the Co-founders and current Executive Chairman, G Scott Paterson, had experienced significant financial losses because of missing key deadlines with certain financial instruments due to a lack of reminders attached to key documents (despite his family office being quite organized in the professional sense). Adding a level of organization and management on top of our respective piles of digital and physical documents could prove to be tremendously valuable.
Ultimately, we wanted to find ways to help people create a better, simpler, and more secure digital life now and for the future. For entire families. Forever.
But where do you start? First, we started with nearly a year of preliminary research. We looked at best practices in records management. We did a deep dive into cloud storage providers and their offerings. We took into account major cybersecurity considerations and compliance regimens. We studied trends in novel database structures, agile development frameworks and the newest tech stacks that would be able to serve major enterprises. We evaluated financial management tools and platforms, including SaaS ERP and CRM ecosystems. Then, we made a plan and established FutureVault in 2014.
First, we set out to create the world’s most well-researched digital filing cabinet because structure was required. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a universal file structure for digitizing our lives? We recognized at the time that the consumers might be reluctant to store their lives’ most sensitive and vital documents with a startup in Toronto (though on a secure platform that lives in a super secure datacentre). We decided that we should deliver our platform via major organizations and institutions that a) can audit and endorse our the security and integrity of our platform, b) have a trusted relationship with end users and c) want to find innovative ways to add value to those relationships. For our partner organizations, their clients and ourselves, we knew that security was paramount above all else. So, we hired experts and third parties to help us in building a secure platform from the ground up (more about that in a sec). But having a secure and structured platform wasn’t enough. We needed to add the element of collaboration to allow end-users and the trusted advisors in their lives to communicate securely in an protected, auditable environment.
That’s when we evolved our thinking from just a digital filing cabinet into a collaborative Digital Vault. And then we evolved the functionality behind the vault into an information management tool for both people and businesses. Our mandate remains consistent: we want to help end users get organized, save time, save money, all the while feeling save and secure and achieving ultimate peace of mind – the antithesis of stress. We also want to help organizations add value and stay better connected to their clients, members, staff or students.
To execute on our plan, we hired (and continue to grow) a brilliant team of thought partners that include software architects and developers, operational and infrastructure engineers, interface designers, research analysts, former banking executives , financial services professionals, sales and marketing leaders and subject matter experts in law, accounting, finance and beyond.
In the end, we put our heads down and spent two years in research and development. Then we filed three patents in August 2016. Then, we launched commercially at a FinTech conference in New York in September 2016. Then, we raised more capital. Then we started building meaningful relationships with great clients and created white-labelled deployments for them. Then we hired even more awesome talent. Then we raised even more capital from more amazing investors (some of whom are clients). Then we continued to build out and bolster our incredible team from top to bottom. You should join us too. This is going to be a wild ride (but a very safe and secure one). Call us. Our number’s below on this napkin.
All my best,
Co-founder, Chief Marketing Officer and Assistant Office Barista