NAPLES — All successful businesses have the same beginning: a great idea.
Christopher Jensen, a 30-year-old venture capitalist and Naples native, believes he has one.
It’s called VaultWorthy.com, described on its website as “a secure document storage platform” — basically, a virtual safe deposit box in which to store one’s most important documents.
“Being in the venture capital business, I constantly have ideas or I’m tweaking business models,” Jensen said. “I had this one idea and it wouldn’t go away. It kept evolving in my head.”
As a managing principal of Anderson Pacific Corp. (APC), a Chicago-based private investment firm, Jensen began thinking in early 2011 about the fate of the vital documents he shared with his business partners, should anything happen to any of them.
“Inevitably, a lot of these documents could be overlooked,” said Jensen, a graduate of Barron Collier High School and Indiana University. “I started thinking that it would make sense for me to get a safe deposit box at some point. Then I realized I’m not home enough to have a safe deposit box.
“What if I could develop an online safe deposit box that you could access anywhere at anytime?”
On May 1, VaultWorthy.com was launched. For $12.95 a month, subscribers can store up to 50 documents — ranging from passports and birth certificates to wills, insurance policies, medical records, investments and deeds — in their vault.
Termed “succession management,” a client also can choose up to five vault trustees — family members, attorneys or financial advisers — who would have access to some or all of the documents pending permission, death or a level of disability.
To bring his initial idea to fruition, Jensen partnered with SproutBox.com, a Bloomington, Ind., software/venture capital firm. Jensen also received financial backing from his father, Clark Jensen, a Naples businessman involved in the building, development and banking industries.
“I’m the kind of dad that would say, ‘Chris, I appreciate your energy and enthusiasm, but I don’t believe in this product,” said the elder Jensen, who received his MBA from Northwestern. “When Chris came to me, I said, ‘That’s a good idea and I’ll put money on it.’ I’m not the kind of dad who would give you money and say have some fun. This is a business deal.”
Clark Jensen, who sits on boards of various local professional, civic and nonprofit organizations, serves in an advisory capacity, helping his son refine the company’s purpose, clientele and marketing strategy.
Through his voracious reading, Chris Jensen came across SproutBox, which rather than money, chooses four hand-picked startups each year and provides the computer coding personnel and resources necessary to bring a company to life.
SproutBox developed the entire VaultWorthy site and software in exchange for equity in the company. No money changed hands. Simply put, Jensen is the product’s inventor and designer and SproutBox is the product’s manufacturer. SproutBox staff handles the site, so Chris Jensen’s company doesn’t need employees.
“My initial reaction (to the idea) was skeptical, but as an investor, I have to be,” said Brad Whistler, SproutBox’s founder and managing director. “There are a lot of cloud solutions (to document storage). But those didn’t solve the big problem of document management and who gets access to these documents in a life-changing event.
“Chris uncovered a very big hole in the market that needs to be addressed. When he pitched it, it was one of those moments when the light bulb goes on.”
One of the biggest concerns the Jensens had was website security. A 256-bit AES encryption on VaultWorthy.com is many times stronger than standard bank-level security, the company’s website states. Not even the site’s developers or the company’s officers can access and read a subscriber’s stored documents.
Outside security experts audit the site regularly to gauge its vulnerability.
“We’re being hyper-sensitive with the security of the site,” Chris Jensen said. “We’re spending a decent amount of money beyond the industry standards on firewalls and encryption.
“VaultWorthy provides users the peace of mind that their most important documents are in one, secure and organized location accessible from anywhere at any time.”
There are two ways VaultWorthy services will be marketed and sold — first on a personal, individual sign-up basis through the website. The other is through a white label strategy, which allows banks, law firms, and other institutions to rebrand the VaultWorthy product as their own and market it to their customers.
With sales growing daily, Jensen hopes that more of the buying public will find his idea as compelling as the young entrepreneur was to SproutBox.
“I was just impressed with Chris even before I heard his idea,” Whistler said. “I had the sense this was a guy who was going to be successful and with whom I wanted to be in business with.
“He is a guy that really understands and is able to connect with people. This is a product that really needs that.”
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