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Rachel Drew: empathy-driven innovator – Communitech

Amid loss and grief, those left behind are often thrust into unfamiliar roles, making decisions and taking on executor duties with incomplete information and little to no experience. 

Through her own journey settling her mother's estate, Rachel Drew identified the need for a better solution.

"I went through the administration process myself and realized how broken and fragmented it was,” said Drew, founder and CEO of Cadence. “People are dealing with grief and all of the other challenges that come along with the loss of a loved one while trying to navigate a very complex system that really hasn't been updated." 

This insight led to the birth of Cadence in April 2020.

Saskatoon-based Cadence functions as a dual platform, encompassing both estate planning and settlement. The company says it’s the first end-to-end estate planning and settlement solution available, with users supported by professional service providers. 

"We offer estate planning and settlement software that is designed to alleviate the burden for bereaved families," Drew said. “Additionally, it empowers businesses to expand their services by providing a comprehensive solution.“

The platform is intended for use by individuals, with support from funeral homes and financial advisory firms, highlighting Cadence's B2B approach to supplying its product to end-users.

Following her personal experience, Drew immersed herself in estate management, becoming an expert in comprehending and addressing the intricate challenges it presents.

“Currently, our focus is to collaborate with funeral homes and wealth-management firms,” Drew said. “This collaboration aims to enhance the support these entities provide to their clients, ensuring a smoother and more meaningful experience.”

In terms of strategy, Cadence seeks to improve estate administration methods and redefine how people plan for end-of-life matters, be it for themselves or their loved ones. 

Participating in this year’s Fierce Founders Intensive Track program has played a pivotal role in propelling her company forward, Drew said.

“Beyond the tangible benefits, such as non-dilutive funding, what truly stands out is the exceptional mentorship we got,” she added.

Through this guidance, Cadence solidified its go-to-market strategy, gained a deeper understanding of its customers and established clear customer success processes.

"Fierce Founders really helped us basically take what we've done and refine it more," Drew said. "They made the right changes just when they were needed."

Cadence not only increased its revenue and expanded its team, it also successfully entered the U.S. market. 

“Although the U.S. expansion was slightly ahead of our engagement with Fierce Founders, the program was instrumental in aiding their navigation of this transition,” Drew said. 

In June 2022, Cadence secured $1.2 million in all-equity seed funding from Conexus Venture Capital, Lex Capital, The51 and undisclosed angel investors. The investment has helped enable the startup’s expansion. 

Looking ahead, Cadence plans to continue to expand across North America. 

"Our goal is really to support as many families as we possibly can, knowing that everyone is going to encounter loss at some point in their life,” Drew said. “We really want to be there to support families and to support businesses in expanding their services."

The Fierce Founders Uplift and Intensive Track programs are made possible thanks to the support of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, the Business Development Bank (BDC), Google for Startups, the City of Kitchener and the Ontario government.

Applications are now open for the Fierce Founders Bootcamp. 

"Communitech helps tech-driven companies start, grow and succeed. Communitech was founded in 1997 by a group of entrepreneurs committed to making Waterloo Region a global innovation leader. At the time it was crazy talk, but somehow this community managed to pull it off. Today, Communitech is a public-private innovation hub that supports a community of more than 1400 companies — from startups to scale-ups to large global players. Communitech helps tech companies start, grow and succeed in three distinct ways: - Communitech is a place – the center of gravity for entrepreneurs and innovators. A clubhouse for building cool shit and great companies. - Communitech delivers programs – helping companies at all stages with access to capital, customers and talent. We are here to help them grow and innovate. - Communitech partners in building a world-leading ecosystem – making sure we have all the ingredients (and the brand) to go from a small startup to a global giant."

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