In November 2021, Julia Rodgers and Sarabeth Jaffe walked down the aisle and emerged “married” to a couple of sharks. Never fear, Lionesses — our savvy entrepreneurs have ready access to a prenuptial agreement should things go south. Rodgers and Jaffe are the co-founders of HelloPrenup, the first “legal tech” offering to appear on ABC’s Shark Tank. There they connected with Sharks Kevin O’Leary and Nirav Tolia who offered up $150,000 for 30 percent of the company.
What is HelloPrenup?
HelloPrenup is an online platform designed to help couples collaborate on creating their own prenuptial agreements. Rodgers, a family attorney, and Jaffe, a software engineer, joined forces to create an easy-to-use and collaborative tool that delivers a high-quality, customized contract at a fraction of what an attorney would charge for a prenuptial agreement. (Plus, you can have your attorney review the resulting document and still save time and money.)
We talked with Rodgers and Jaffe about how they both started to separately tackle the problem of expensive, time-consuming prenuptial agreements, how they ended up on Shark Tank (and rocked it) and their important insights on weddings, divorce, women and money.
In the beginning…
According to the HelloPrenup team, part of their core mission is to help educate the marketplace about prenups and to protect women and their money from the economic consequences of a divorce. Numerous studies have shown that women bear a heavier economic burden after a marital separation. They are more likely to lose their home and suffer a lower standard of living. Traditionally, prenuptial agreements were written to protect high-net-worth men from losing their wealth to their former wives. The HelloPrenup team talks about their solution as a way to reframe the traditional, and often sexist, view of a prenup agreement.
But there were other issues as well.
Traditional prenuptial agreements assume an adversarial relationship
A traditional process for obtaining a prenup effectively removes the loving couple from the negotiation process. You go get a lawyer and so will I, and then those lawyers will hash out an agreement.
The new world of prenups often finds a younger millennial couple who basically agree on what they want in the agreement. This calls for a more collaborative approach.
Speed is also an issue for many engaged couples
Before founding HelloPrenup, Rodgers worked with many couples who came into her family law practice looking for a quick prenup. Quick, because planning a wedding keeps them busy. Quick because there is a real and looming deadline – the wedding day.
“People would always say, ‘We’re getting married in a month. Why isn’t that enough time to draft a prenup?’”
Traditional, lawyer-led agreements can take a couple of months, at least.
And, of course, then there’s the cost
While HelloPrenup costs just under $600 for a completed agreement, the traditional prenuptial agreement can cost anywhere from $2500 to $5000, and up. Rodgers saw many couples back away from the process when confronted with this, preferring to invest in their wedding. Jaffe found that some attorneys seemed reluctant to name prices when she started looking into an agreement prior to her own wedding.
Here comes the dream team
Before coming together as HelloPrenup, Rodgers and Jaffe both started to work on new model prenuptial agreement platforms. Jaffe, seeing the potential opportunity, realized she would need a legal advisor or co-founder and reached out to Rodgers. The HelloPrenup team connected (virtually, at first,) and joined forces. As they say, the rest is history.
Speaking of history, it may have been the first time in Shark Tank history that co-founders met in-person for the first time only a day before the taping of their segment. Not only were Rodgers and Jaffe originally tackling different ends of the problem (Rodgers from the legal end and Jaffe from the tech side), but they were also at either end of the country, with Rodgers in Massachusetts and Jaffe in Seattle.
Rodgers had previously contracted with overseas developers to bring her vision to life, but it wasn’t going as well as she would have liked. Once the two joined forces, the magic started to happen. It was only a month later that they started talking with the Shark Tank producers.
Hello national TV!
The HelloPrenup team has advice for other entrepreneurs going through “viral moments”, like appearing on Shark Tank. And would they do it again? Unequivocally, yes. 1000 percent yes.
- Be prepared for paperwork. Rodgers calls the Shark Tank appearance “another part-time job.” The producers needed to ensure there were no “deep dark secrets.”
- Be prepared to walk the fine line between being entertaining and being taken seriously. Rodgers and Jaffe made their entrance as brides, wearing wedding gowns and veils, and carrying flowers. But once the entrance was behind them, the costume dresses came off and they had appropriate business attire while they were pitching and negotiating with the sharks.
- You need to be prepared. Both founders practiced their pitch on family and friends for weeks beforehand. They had a 22-page prep document with tons of possible questions and the answers. By the time they were called up to tape the show, they felt ready.
What’s next for HelloPrenup?
Currently, the team is expanding their coverage, using their investors’ money to research different state requirements and deliver solutions to three to four states every month. By the end of 2022, they expect to cover all 50 states. And, for a good cause, they are supporting four runners in this year’s Boston Marathon. The runners are raising money for Savvy Ladies, a nonprofit supporting financial literacy for women.
Learn more about HelloPrenup:
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/helloprenup
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/HelloPrenup
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqe-NOs0xV7yEebsg8om27A
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HelloPrenup
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