The National Center For Health Statistics (NCHS) says that there are approximately 2.2 million marriages in the U.S. every year. Some of those marriages work out well. But a big percentage of marriages – up to 1.4 million per year – end in divorce.
There are sites that help people plan for marriage, like the $400+ million market cap TheKnot.com. And when the time comes, BabyCenter, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, will help them through the process of having a baby. There’s even Caring.com, which helps people plan for aging and death.
But if your blissful union ends in a dissolution, there aren’t many places to turn on the Internet for help in getting through the process. And that’s a shame, because the average participant spends up to $15,000 in the months leading up to and after a divorce. Houses are sold or refinanced, new bank and credit card accounts are opened, and someone has to furnish that shabby apartment that dad has been booted to. And it doesn’t stop there, of course. Revenge sex and, eventually, the ridiculous hope that the next relationship will end better than the previous one leads divorcees to start checking out the online dating services, too.
That’s why new Florida-based startup Divorce360 makes so much sense. These people are confused, lonely and need to make major financial decisions fast. Divorce360 will help them, just like TheKnot helps with marriages and BabyCenter helps with having a baby. And like those sites, Divorce360 will find ways make money through advertising, classified listings and lead generation.
The site is broken up into time based categories, from Deciding (to have a divorce) through Moving On (at the end of the process). Each category has four sub-categories (legal, financial, emotional, children). Each page has content relevant to the category – paid contributions by journalists, blog posts by users, a Q&A section (with questions and answers provided by users) and video. The professional content is clearly there to seed the site. The user generated stuff, including user profiles, blogs and questions/answers, help builds community on the site. That community can help provide a crucial support network for the newly divorced.
A directory for service providers is coming. The company says listings will be free to ensure rich content. Later, premium listings will help generate revenue. The site also has other resources for divorcees: checklists, budget calculators, a glossary, links to relevant state laws and resources and an abuse hotline.
Here’s one of the smartest features – the site has an area for users to keep private notes that are not viewable by others – a sort of private journal and incident report. In the early stages of a breakup privacy is often a real problem since the couple cohabitate and any notes or files, even if stored on a computer hard drive, may be seen by the enemy (your wife or husband).
Advertising for now is basically a mixture of display and text ads. But over time, the company says, they’ll be able to generate revenue more intelligently by recommending services, classified ads in the directory and other lead generation.
Divorce360, which has six employees, was founded by Cotter Cuningham, who was previously the COO of publicly held BankRate.com (Cunningham says he’s never been divorced, by the way). The company is headquartered in Palm Beach, Florida. They raised a $2.5 million Series A round of funding in September 2007 from Austin Ventures and a number of angel investors. Austin Ventures’ Tom Ball joined their board of directors.