We sat down with Kinnect’s CEO and Founder to talk about where the idea of Kinnect came from, and the future of family communication. Kyle Kirby talks about how Kinnect works, and shares his insight on why Family Relationship Management is so important, and easier than ever with Kinnect.
How did the idea for Kinnect come about?
In November of 2017, my grandmother passed away. It was an emotional time for my dad’s side of the family, as you’d expect it to be.
One thing I started to notice, aside from the emotional impact, was my dad speaking quite a bit about how much of a mess things were. It ended up taking him and his sister around a year to get access to all of the information they ended up needing, like my grandmother’s account information, insurance policies, bank information, etc.
I saw first hand what going through probate looks like, and started wondering how I could avoid this situation for myself. I knew my parents kept their information in a briefcase in their bedroom, but didn’t have much of an idea as to what was in it, or what I needed to do with it if something were to happen.
So I started looking online for solutions. I knew that my parents weren’t technologically savvy enough to organize and manage their important information in something like Google drive or a file sharing website – it would end up getting disorganized, forgotten about, and out of date quickly.
Then I discovered end of life planning websites, but I knew that it would be a tough sell to get my parents interested in something that more or less is a ‘come here and plan to die responsibly’ website, especially if they would be required to pay a monthly fee for something they would likely forget about in a year or two.
One other thing I noticed when looking at file sharing websites and these end of life planning sites is that they didn’t prioritize the recipient of what is being shared as much as I felt they should be. From my perspective, they’re basically digital folders that don’t end up making life easier for the person the information is being shared with. While this might seem selfish, I didn’t think they would make my life any easier than what my parents were currently doing by keeping their documents in a folder in their house.
So I began having conversations with my parents, their friends, and anyone I could get in touch with that was going through something similar, realized how pervasive of an issue this is, and wanted to see how much the process for sharing important information for families could be simplified.
After about two years of research and hundreds of conversations, I felt that I had a good enough understanding of what was needed, so I left my full time job and went full time into Kinnect, which from my perspective, is just a platform that is committed to helping families communicate more effectively.
What are the core values that drive the Kinnect team?
The highest value is earning and maintaining our users’ trust. Obviously, we house people’s important information, so keeping it secure and private is fundamental to our success.
We prioritize the truth by being objective and transparent, regarding what our mission and commitment is: To empower all people to connect and communicate effectively with their families. We judge our success based on how much of a benefit each family experiences by using our platform.
We also believe in having a positive impact, encouraging creativity, and holding ourselves to a higher standard than anyone else.
How does Kinnect work?
Basically, a user creates their account and then connects to their family. In the same way you’d connect to someone in your LinkedIn community as a business professional, in Kinnect you make connections based on the specific relationship type: if someone is your father, you add them as your father, if someone’s your brother, you add them as your brother, etc. The system is designed to account for every possible relationship type, because family dynamics vary highly from one family to another.
After you connect to those in your family, you can easily upload and share all of the important information you’d need to share, from netflix passwords to wills & trusts, and everything in between. You can easily request information from other people, and see everything others are sharing with you in one easy to access location.
Kinnect also lets you share information in whatever way you want. If you want to share a file with me now, you can, if you want to share it in 10 years, you can, but either way, it allows you to let me know that something exists that I need to know about.
Kinnect also lets you add ‘admins’ who are able to manage folders in your vault for you: these can be attorneys, accountants, or more technologically competent family members.
Kinnect is also built to help people connect and communicate intergenerationally, by also allowing users to leave their legacy through adding photos, videos and stories. It’s a private and secure place for families to share life’s most important moments, away from all the negativity that comes from other social networking sites.
There’s also a group based messenger and integrated calendar, all designed to make it easier for families to communicate effectively.
Who uses Kinnect and what are their ultimate goals?
Technologically competent parents are the initial segment of users who see the highest benefit from using the system. Younger couples who have shared information that likely is already disorganized, who more often than not, also have aging parents whose information they’re not confident in being able to easily find and manage.
I think their ultimate goal is to make life easier for themselves and those they care about.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing families when it comes to sharing important information?
Well, the issues that come from not effectively sharing important information are predictable, and a vast majority of the population experiences them.
The issue to me is that nobody is approaching the problem from the perspective of communication, which is why there aren’t any options that make the entire process easier and shorter for everyone.
I think most people just accept things the way that they have always been, which is why the average person will spend 6+ months going through probate at some point, because it’s universally accepted.
I think the biggest challenge is that people are overwhelmingly not good at communicating. The #1 reason for family conflict, comes from communication issues. When you add in people not wanting to talk about negative subjects like death, it compounds the issue.
Where do professional advisors, like lawyers and agents, fit into the picture?
One of the most consistent issues we’ve found is that most professionals serve individual clients, and don’t have an easy way to access or communicate with the family of their clients.
Typically, the only families who are served by professional advisors are mass affluent families who receive a much higher level of service when it comes to asset distribution, financial planning, legal preparation etc.
The reason for this is that it requires a considerable amount of time and effort to collaborate with the family of a client and plan effectively.
This is why most of the time, when a client passes away, their family finds another professional to fill these roles, because they never built a relationship with the family.
Kinnect enables professionals to easily connect and serve clients and their families, which ends up being a win for all parties involved. We allow professionals to provide a much higher level to clients by allowing them to serve and communicate with the entire family. After all, nobody purchases a will or life insurance plan for themselves. Kinnect allows professionals to immediately share these important documents with their clients families in whatever way their client prefers.
Kinnect also enables professionals to create a customized user experience for all of their clients in a manner similar to salesforce, where they can utilize custom apps and dashboards to provide whatever types of information they want with their clients and their clients families.
What does Family Relationship Management mean to you, and why is this such an important concept to introduce to the world?
Families share a tremendous amount of information, over 300 types on average. And there are unique hurdles when it comes to intergenerational communication. If we can successfully create a standardized, simple way for families to communicate effectively, it will enable all families to communicate on a deeper level than we thought was possible for years to come.
Where do you see Kinnect in the next few years?
Well, we’re working towards creating a product that’s better than anything that exists to help families communicate, and giving it away for free, so I believe we will see rapid growth for a long time, assuming we execute properly. My hope is that in the short run, we find a user base that wants to help us create a world where families can communicate better than previously possible, and in the long-run, we eliminate the need for certain avoidable processes, such as probate.
It’s really simple to set up Kinnect, it’s free for life for those who get Early Access, and it will change the way you communicate with your family for the better. Get Early Access now