It was orientation day at the University of Miami.
Separately, Leah Del Percio and Tara Faquir decided to skip the formal programming. Being transfer students, they decided they didn’t need to hear the presentations for freshmen just entering college again.
But as they were sneaking out of the session, they met.
“We happened to literally bump into each other,” Del Percio said.
They exchanged fashion compliments, and they quickly agreed that orientation was a waste of time. Inefficiency was a bonding point. From there a friendship was formed, and they were roommates the next year. In the 16 years that followed, they went different ways in their careers, and lived in different cities. But they always kept in touch, and supported each other.
Now, they’re cofounders, seeking to bring more efficiency for families after a loved one dies.
Faquir recently joined Trustate, the Baltimore estate settlement startup Del Percio launched earlier this year, as cofounder and chief operating officer, taking on a key leadership role as it builds out product offerings and grows the team.
Though she didn’t initially have a formal role, Faquir has been involved with the company since early on. When Del Percio started work on the startup that would eventually lead her to leave her job at top law firm DLA Piper, Faquir became an early member of the advisory board. Faquir had experience with sales strategy, as well as running internal systems and training at tech companies like Rent the Runway. More recently, the company’s ability to help people hit home after her grandparents passed away months apart.
For Del Percio’s part, she saw early interest after launch, and has talked to both customers and investors. After meeting with an investor, she realized that time to strategize, build and iterate would continue to be important. And she recognized the importance of implementing the kind of product offerings and pricing structures that will make the business scalable.
We're both taking this leap together because we believe in the business and we believe in each other.
“What I really needed was everything that Tara brings to the table,” said Del Percio, who is Trustate’s CEO. They quickly bonded once again — this time as business partners.”In talking to her for literally five minutes about it, I said, why don’t we join forces and do this ourselves and do something great together?”
Cofounder holds a lot of weight in a startup’s trajectory. In this case, the decision came back to their existing relationship, as well as the expertise Faquir brings. They can have honest conversations and understand the shared goals they’re working toward.
“I think the element of trust is really important to me. It made sense to bring Tara on as cofounder because of our trust with each other,” Del Percio said.
They’ve always talked about working together, and now the right opportunity arrived.
“We’re both taking this leap together because we believe in the business and we believe in each other,” said Faquir.
Taking customer feedback, they’re building on offerings that combine humans and tech to break out which tasks of settling an estate are legal and administrative, and automate the many administrative tasks that go into settling an estate after someone dies. They’re taking into account users who might want to plan for how things will be settled, and incorporating a toolkit that helps centralize documents so they aren’t searching through a house — and checking up on them if certain laws are outdated or someone relocates. They’ve also introduced a pricing model that’s focused around expanding access to such services.
“We really see this as a tool that people who are proactive can use, and something where an adviser can give that to a client as a benefit,” Del Percio said.
At the same time, they’re growing the company, with the team now including five people. They’re building a remote team that can serve folks anywhere, as Faquir is based in Philadelphia.
As a culture takes root, they want to extend what keeps them close: a supportive and collaborative atmosphere where folks aren’t afraid to be vulnerable.
They’ve worked in male-dominated fields, and that meant part of their support for each other was helping to navigate these fields as women in management. While it’s not always truly the case that women support women in the workplace, now that they’ve created something new together. And they want to extend it to others.
“Leah and I want to be the women who are saying the names of others in a room full of opportunity because we want others to have the same type of opportunities we built for ourselves,” Faquir said.
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