#29 – Advising through Divorce with Storey Jones, Founder and CEO of dtour.life

I recently spoke with kick-butt entrepreneur, Storey Jones.  She is an expert on divorce and family planning and has founded a company around her expertise.  I’ll let her bio from her startup DTOUR.LIFE tell the story:


INTRODUCTION

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“Been there. Done that. Survived and thrived. In 1998 Storey Jones married a technology entrepreneur. By 2001 his company had executed a successful IPO and then an accounting scandal brought everything crashing down leaving her in a highly complex seven-year legal quagmire that included every unimaginable financial and emotional challenge including a protracted high-conflict divorce and custody battle. Though she lost everything including her home, possessions, savings & retirement, she gained a purpose. She recognized the glaring chasm between the human experience of divorce and the legal system; she developed a new business model as a divorce consultant to assist men and women in becoming far more informed, prepared and supported as they navigate their own unique processes. She also worked closely with divorce legal teams to help their clients be better prepared participants in their own divorce.

After 12 years as a divorce consultant in the San Francisco Bay area, Storey has now leveraged that experience to build the first holistic end-to-end platform for divorce to bring innovation and technology to an outdated system. She is determined to change the experience by providing education and smart efficiency with expansive day-to-day tools that are designed so both clients and professionals can seamlessly work on and understand the same financial and other case-related data. dtour.life is designed from the ground up to fundamentally redefine this life transition for both spouses and professionals.

Prior to founding Lemon Tree Advisors and dtour.life, Storey was president of Addis, a bay area brand strategy and design firm where for 13 years she was integral to its growth and vision. Storey now lives in New York City with her teenage son; she has a B.A. from Colgate University.”

We covered an enormous amount of ground and I’m excited for you to hear her story:


Tell us a little bit about your background and help us understand how you came to start dtour.life

“I have a business background and when I found myself quite suddenly and surprisingly in the middle of a highly complex, expensive and protracted divorce at a young age. I realize now how naïve I was, and through my process, I was horrified at the system, the inefficient process and the lack of accountability of the professionals. It was one of those classic “If only I knew then what I know now,” and I couldn’t bear to think of anyone else going through it with the blind faith in the system that I had, so I developed a divorce consultancy to work with families. I had a consultancy for about 10+ years in the SF Bay area. Then, during those years, with a front row seat to the day-to-day workflow process, I had my second epiphany when I realized what was actually the root cause of so much of the massive cost and protracted timelines…that is what led me to develop and found dtour.life…)”


How does the process of divorce typically play out? 

There are four fundamental layers to divorce:

  1. Emotional
  2. Financial
  3. Children
  4. Post-Divorce Lifestyle

 

Who are the advisers that surround this process?  Traditionally, everyone believes they just need a lawyer, is that still true? Are there other advisors to be considered?

I prefer a team model, and at first that might sound expensive, but in fact, it is the most efficient and cost-effective model. Every case has a unique set of factors be It the psychological dynamic between the spouses, the complexity of a financial issue, the ownership of a business, difficult child emotional or schedule issues, etc.   As we discussed earlier, divorce is this huge lifestyle arc that affects every single aspect of your life. It so far exceeds simply the legal issues that I encourage everyone to think a little differently about their own situation and what they actually need, and then, how to manage that.


What makes this an industry ready to disrupt?   (Or modernize/transform)

Many, many factors, but let me start with what I feel are the key reasons why it is not only imperative, but a fact that this industry MUST be disrupted

  1. Technologically starved
    1. Paper-based system
    2. Simplistic level, all about paper
    3. Faxing/pdfs
  2. Cost and the Systemic issues breaking families
    1. Families have evolved to two-income and they cannot afford it
    2. We have to streamline it
  3. Millennials
    1. Will not tolerate
    2. Millennial Lawyers will require digital

What are the factors that make it so brutal?  We hear all these horrific stories about divorce, so what are the key factors that contribute to it being so difficult?

The honest answer is that it is different for everyone. There are unique family-specific issues and there are systemic issues.

I consider myself an expert in the human experience of divorce, and what I learned early on is that while there are certainly patterns, every family has a unique set of pain points be it the emotional, the financial, the children, the extended family, the grandfather clock, etc. At the heart of every divorce is the relationship between the two spouses. That dynamic and those behaviors will do a lot to drive the process and then unfortunately, the system takes over.

Systemic issues that contribute to the brutality of divorce include the confusion of what to do, how to do it, the enormous cost, the manner in which lawyers conduct themselves, etc. And we think “fair” exists, but everyone has a different version of fair and it can be gut-wrenching to be handed a response to a motion, an evaluation, a support calculation, a judgment, whatever it might be and have it be polar opposite of what you feel is fair and just.


What does dtour.life do to help?  Can this be used by both spouses?  Who is the audience and can this be used by both spouses?  How do people see the savings and efficiency?

When you launch new technology you have to identify where you believe you can make the biggest difference, immediately.  So in our initial release we have focused on aspects of the day-to-day workflow that we feel is at the core of the inefficiency, inaccuracies cost and protracted timelines.

Dtour.life is designed for multiple audiences so that it can have a comprehensive and dimensional impact. It is designed for all spouses and all professionals so that the stakeholders on the team be it the lawyer, the lawyer’s paralegal, the mediator, the financial experts, etc., can have access to the data, real time. And, we are working with corporations to make it available to their employees as an employee benefit due to the disastrous effects divorce have in the workplace. And, we are making t available to all legal aid and pro bono groups for free because we want to support those families in need and the lawyers who give of their time.


What’s next/How has the entrepreneurship side of things been?

The most difficult product or service to introduce to the market is something new. It is easy to market and sell another form of what we already know.

If this was a platform geared to spouses in the middle of or already divorced, we would have more users than we would know what to do with, for one reason. They know exactly what the process is like and value the features. But we are selling to spouses who right now are considering the move, likely haven’t admitted it to anyone, and are just finding the courage to call a lawyer. And, we are selling to family law attorneys and professionals who already have a system, inefficient, if you ask me, but a system that they are loathe to change. Corporations have been very interested in this, but they move at a snails pace, so as with any new technology, we are educating the market, we are designing new and improved features and UX every day, and our team is 100% dedicated to making a difference and this will make a difference.


How do we find out more? How do we keep track of your progress?

Dtour.life! We keep it updated with new feature announcements and press, and we have an ever-expanding knowledge center with content for anyone who wants to learn more about any aspect of divorce.

 

 

 

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