Wellesley’s Julia Rodgers and her team at HelloPrenup have launched an online service they say offers couples a relatively painless way to create a prenuptial agreement, a document they describe as being just as much of an emotional one as a legal one.
A lawyer by day, CEO Rodgers has joined forces with software engineer and Chief Technology Officer Sarabeth Jaffe to deliver HelloPrenup, which got its chance to wow the investors on ABC’s Shark Tank TV show for an episode debuting on Friday, Nov. 12, 8-9pm.
We’re guessing things must have gone reasonably well for HelloPrenup, or Rodgers wouldn’t have reached out to us. But we didn’t push her to give away the ending.
We did learn, though, that the occasion of flying to California for Shark Tank filming over the summer allowed Rodgers and her co-founder to meet in person for the first time. A classic pandemic time story for the two, who had been working remotely via Zoom from the start.
Shark Tank reached out to the self-funded HelloPrenup to audition for the show. “From there, my co-founder and I spent countless hours working on our audition and pitch videos, as well as gathering all of the background information required by the producers. It was not until about a month before the taping that we knew we were going to be filmed,” says Rodgers, a longtime fan of the show.
“I have always loved watching the different pitches and hearing from the entrepreneurs about how they came up with their idea or built their business,” she says. “Shark Tank has inspired a lot of people to pursue their dream of being an entrepreneur— including myself!”
Rodgers, who moved from Cambridge to Wellesley last year as she and her husband began to raise a family, started developing HelloPrenup in late 2018. However, the startup really only got going this past summer, says Rodgers, who is a family law attorney in Boston.
Juggling it all is a huge challenge, though Rodgers says she’s always had an entrepreneurial spirit. The Suffolk University Law School alum even managed the firm she works for throughout law school, enjoying the business side of growing the outfit.
“I work on HelloPrenup in the afternoon and evenings, and luckily my HelloPrenup co-founder and team is on the west coast—so the time difference works to my advantage,” Rodgers says. “While building this business and working full time I have learned that there are a lot of sacrifices, and very little time off. I always say to my husband, I am having the most fun I have ever had—and I’m also the most tired I have ever been!”
HelloPrenup automates the prenuptial agreement process, and at $600 per prenup, is much less expensive than the traditional process. Even if a couple wants to seal the deal through a lawyer, HelloPrenup can get them most of the way there in advance, according to the legal tech startup, which operates in more than a dozen states.
Of those, Massachusetts is no pushover.
“Each state has its own standards when it comes to enforcement. I would say California is probably one of the strictest states, but Massachusetts follows closely behind,” Rodgers says. “MA will enforce a prenuptial agreement as long as it was fair and reasonable to the parties at the time of the execution and fair at the time of divorce.”
Rodgers advocates for couples headed toward marriage to get on their prenup sooner than later.
“We always recommend that couples start talking about their prenup as soon as they get engaged, or even before. You need ample time to make sure you are both on board with the concept of a prenup, to discuss the details, and then get it drafted and signed,” she says. “The absolute worst time to bring up a prenup is right before the wedding. You don’t want to surprise your fiancé last minute with something this important. Doing so goes against the spirit of a prenup being a collaborative process, and can really erode the trust you had in your relationship.”
You’d think Wellesley might be fertile territory for some pretty interesting prenups, but HelloPrenup hasn’t done any business here yet. Though the law firm Rodgers works for has represented many Wellesley clients negotiating prenups—and divorces. “But we can’t talk about those!” she says.
Of course I was obligated to ask Rodgers if she and her husband have a prenup themselves. She had a perfect answer: “[We] were the first beta users of HelloPrenup.”