The Future Is Now: Mark Alhermizi Of Everdays On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up The Tech Scene
An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Employees make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean they should be written off.
As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Alhermizi.
Mark Alhermizi, founder and CEO of Everdays, is a serial entrepreneur. He has founded several successful ventures through his holding company IZI Ventures including Gas Station TV, a business he sold in 2014. Prior to forming IZI Ventures, Mark headed up the worldwide M&A and Corporate Development practice for J. Walter Thompson, part of the WPP Group. Mark cares about community, business, and technology, and makes these a priority within all of his ventures. He started Everdays after his father passed away.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share the story that brought you to this specific career path?
My father passed away unexpectedly. I knew nothing about planning funerals, but in my culture, as the only son, everyone looked to me to make the decisions. That’s when I understood firsthand what it’s like to navigate the sad, confusing days after losing a parent. For most people like me, it’s their first time having to buy a burial plot, make funeral arrangements, and plan the services, and it’s overwhelming. Not to mention how quickly the bills add up.
My dad, like the vast majority of Americans, had made no plans ahead of time. I asked myself why, and I realized that the process of making end of life plans at the time was not easy or accessible — it was, and for many still is, gloomy and morbid. I founded Everdays to make end of life planning more approachable, inviting, and convenient for everyone, so they enjoy more peace of mind and fuller lives.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
In the last company I built before starting Everdays, Gas Station TV, I had to prove to my distribution partners, Walmart and Murphy Oil, that having TVs on top of a gas pump was a viable concept. I took on all the risk and started a pilot with 5 of their gas stations on my dime.
We were 45 days into the pilot when Katrina devastated New Orleans, which is where Murphy Oil had their biggest refinery in the country. As I watched the tragedy unfold, I realized this probably was going to be the end of the road for my program. I was recently married, my wife was pregnant with our first child, and I was facing the reality that I may have just lost all of my savings, everything I had invested in this pilot.
But then, much to my total disbelief, I received a fax that my pilot had just been approved. That day, I learned just how resilient, tough and persevering American businesses can be in the light of major disaster, and I’ve held onto that valuable lesson as I’ve navigated obstacles in my own business ventures and work since then.
Can you tell us about the technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?
There are significant barriers to retirement and end of life planning, largely fueled by the fact that technology is never built with seniors in mind. In addition, services are segmented and there is no one place where 60+ consumers can go to plan for their future. Everdays eliminates these barriers by leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) to guide seniors through planning for their future, and Machine Learning (ML) to calculate costs and provide plan options, all on a digital platform that is convenient and purpose-built for seniors, their preferences, and their stage in life.
Ultimately, the breakthrough is about giving seniors unencumbered access to modern planning on their own terms.
How do you think this might change the world?
Over 75% of Americans know it’s important to plan ahead for their final wishes, yet less than 1% of those who are 60+ make and fund these plans. We’re going to change how the world thinks about end of life planning by making it mainstream — giving the vast majority of seniors who have a latent knowledge that they should plan, a way to actually do it — completely online, whenever and wherever they want. In 2020, that 1% represented $6 billion in policy value in the United States. We plan to take that number to 20% — that’s 120 billion dollars.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks of this technology that people should think more deeply about?
Everyday uses ML to process consumer data and provide recommendations based on our automated calculations. Algorithms collect and analyze data like age, assets, income, spending habits and general wellness & health to generate the best plan and pricing for their estimated life expectancy. Our proprietary software can get pretty close to projecting how long each of our individual users will live, and we use the data to deliver products that are more attuned to people’s needs. We take our consumers’ privacy very seriously, and utilize the highest standards in security when transferring and storing data, and we only store information necessary to preserve plans and generate policies fit for their needs. While it can be “intimidating” to have an app tell you how long you may live, it is far more worrisome to live a long life and not be prepared.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?
The COVID pandemic has been a tipping point, bringing mortality and end of life more into focus than ever before. According to a 2021 survey, a 30% increase in consumers are expressing the importance of planning ahead for their own final wishes. Beyond that, technology usage among older adults has skyrocketed. I believe this trend will only continue to grow, as the pandemic has pushed young seniors with more urgency towards ecommerce.
What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?
We need to increase awareness that there’s a better way to live an even fuller life into your golden years and beyond, and that’s by planning ahead for important life events to take care of yourself and your family. Our technology is an enabler and is making a real impact, especially for the 65+ population, which, according to a 2015 report by Population Reference Bureau, is expected to more than double and reach over 98 million by 2060 — making up for 24 percent of the population.
What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?
In addition to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), keyword research, and content marketing, we distribute the Everdays app B2B2C by partnering with end of life planning industries — such as estate planning professionals, funeral homes, and cemeteries — to distribute our app to their clients.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person whom you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
My dad, Ike Alhermizi.
Can you share a story about that?
My father was a brilliant man who exuded a hard work ethic, grit, and who rarely complained. He left his entire family, including my mom and young sister, in Iraq to immigrate to the United States and worked 15-hour days to establish himself to prepare for the arrival of his family. He faced adversity in different ways, and even when he lost his brother in an armed robbery at his first store, he never stopped pushing forward. Even though my dad was just a convenience store owner, he had high ambitions for himself, and taught me that anything is possible, there’s always a way forward, and you should never give up.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
From my experience, I’ve often felt like we live in a society that’s programmed us to “put a smile on and move on” in the face of hardship and adversity. It seems like we’re constantly asked to pull away from our emotions, and from listening to our heads and our hearts. Everdays is about being a part of the positive cultural change and shift that’s happening around us — to help people connect with what is most important to them — so that seniors can make meaningful plans that truly enable them to care for their loved ones in a way they wouldn’t otherwise be able to.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Maya Angelou said that people show you who they are, you just have to listen — believe them the first time.
- Be easier on your kids; they are already hard enough on themselves.
- Employees make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean they should be written off.
- On the other hand, when you learn someone’s intentions or motivations are bad — extricate them from your life ASAP.
- Learn to type.
You are a person of influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
This may be a little idealistic, and a little taboo to talk about, but I’ve always wished people could argue less about religion and come together over shared experiences more. Throughout my life, I’ve experienced the benefits of religion giving us structure and guidance to navigate through life, but I have also seen the mistake that the institutions make in asserting that their prescribed teachings are solely correct. If we could all focus less on the differences between our faiths, and more on being accepting of and open to the many different paths that people take to get their own perspective on life’s unanswerable questions, I think we’d enjoy a vastly kinder, more empathetic, tolerant and hospitable world.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I live by a saying one of my mentors shared with me many years ago about what to do when you find yourself faced with too many responsibilities, commitments, or undertakings. He’d say, “If your plate is getting too full… go out and get a bigger plate”. I’ve always been fortunate to have strong people in my life to encourage me, from my dad leading by example throughout my childhood to my mentor who really inspired me to go after what I wanted for my life with passion and enthusiasm. As a result, this lesson permeates my life, often not even consciously, as I regularly stretch myself to the limits to allow myself and my family new opportunities — and my wife is the same way. Hopefully, it will help us live longer! It doesn’t come without its downsides, though. I probably live beyond my physical limits at times, and in so many ways I regret this as I overwhelm myself with what I’ve taken on!
Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say?
TAM of end of life insurance is $100 billion. Current penetration through analog, traditional models is only 5%. No company other than Everdays offers an online, digital, direct-to-consumer solution for seniors 60+ to make and insure their plans in a modern way that drives widespread access and adoption.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.
The Future Is Now: Mark Alhermizi Of Everdays On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.