While living in Hong Kong, New Zealander, Lisa Dooling, witnessed expats having to travel home for funerals and to sort out their loved one’s estate.
This lengthy and often highly emotional task seemed like too huge a burden to Lisa. Wanting to help, she created an ingenious business called Sought and now has extended this to an app that can help catalogue and organise people’s belongings.
Her business and the app, both named Sought, can be used to help people in many more ways than she had originally intended.
Lisa Dooling might be the most passionate person I have ever met when it comes to organising, cataloguing, creating systems, and helping people.
Witnessing countless friends travel back and forth between countries at such an emotional time seemed a stressful, arduous, and time-consuming experience to Lisa.
She thought, “Surely there must be a business out there that can take the pressure off and help organise an estate for families and/or friends.”
Unable to find anyone who could help, Lisa set out to create a business that could fulfil this need.
Sought is born
Lisa’s business, Sought, provides a service where she travels anywhere throughout New Zealand and catalogues an entire estate.
She does this by taking photos and recording details about each item.
Any valuables, bequeathing items, or heirlooms, etc., are then organised into categories which are then itemised in separate reports.
These reports can then be sent to companies for quotes and/or shared with any beneficiaries so the whole family can be involved no matter where in the world they live.
“At times like these, when you are grieving, you want to be spending time with loved ones, not clearing and sorting a house,” says Lisa.
“And now, with the advent of Covid-19, it is increasingly important to have help because so many people are in the awful position of being unable to travel home.”
With a background in administration and providing high-end hospitality services, Lisa is no stranger to multi-tasking and database design.
With systems and efficiency constantly buzzing around Lisa’s head, she began to think about the planning and documenting processes needed for clearing and organising a house.
“I wanted to design a physical system to ensure that all facets were dealt with in a structured way, which could also, where need be, be handed to someone else that could do the same thing in the same way.”
It was this planning, and many late-night jottings during lockdown, that provided Lisa with the initial idea for the Sought app.
Creating a new technology
“The app effectively started as lots and lots of checklists and process diagram drawings,” Lisa explains.
I drew from the knowledge I had accumulated over the many moves I have made and decluttering I have assisted with.”
She spent hours searching online for a tool she could buy or download that could assist her business with photos and reports, but she couldn’t find anything that fitted her requirements.
It wasn’t until, by chance, she met an app developer, where they were both, coincidently, attending a local networking meeting for the first time.
Together with Lisa, the app developer was able to create a physical program from the ideas and thoughts that were in her head.
Launched February 2022
Using the Sought app means that people can take control of their own belongings while they are alive and well.
The app allows a person to share stories and link memories to certain heirlooms as well as bequeath sentimental items to certain people.
In essence, a person’s wishes can be stored and organised, along with photos, for the whole family to see, or that can be sent to a lawyer.
“People don’t want to talk about death, bequeathing or estates. It’s a tough subject to talk about,” says Lisa. “But planning can make this process so much easier.”
Lisa’s hope is that Sought and/or the Sought app can reduce stress, minimise awkwardness or arguments and take the pressure off loved ones trying to figure out if something should be kept, gifted, donated, or sold.
An unexpected but crucial aspect of the Sought app is that you have on hand all your contents and valuables if a disaster were to strike.
You can simply click a report and send your list of items together with any stored photos and receipts to an insurance company or the police.
This can provide a huge peace of mind in what could be an incredibly stressful event.
Creating a business and the subsequent app from scratch, which appears to have never been done before, did not happen overnight.
Last year there were times when I could have ducked out because it felt scary – but the belief and encouragement I had from others kept me moving forward,” says Lisa.
“I would tell anyone who has an idea or dream to at the very least really explore its potential.”
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