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Cody Barbo and daughter, Charlie Cody Barbo and daughter, Charlie

Cody Barbo: The Will to Succeed

The former Associated Students president discusses his entrepreneurial path, his dedication to SDSU as an alumnus and new fatherhood.
By SDSU News Team

On July 1, Cody Barbo hosted a webinar titled “Entrepreneurship in a Pandemic,” examining why now may be the best time to start a business. View Cody Barbo's webinar "Entrepreneurship in a Pandemic."

San Diego State University’s dedication to entrepreneurship, student leadership and community services provides students with opportunities to experience a high-quality, well-rounded education and gain the critical thinking skills necessary to thrive in a global economy. 

Cody Barbo is an example of this. During his time at SDSU, Barbo served in a number of leadership roles, including Associated Students (A.S.) president. Now, Barbo takes the lessons and experiences he gained at SDSU to navigate his full schedule as founder and CEO of Trust & Will, a new father and a dedicated alumnus.

The SDSU News Team caught up with Barbo to discuss his time at SDSU, his entrepreneurial pursuits and what keeps him connected to SDSU.

Why did you decide to attend SDSU?

The day that I stepped foot on campus, the energy about SDSU was magnetic. I hadn’t experienced that from any other campus I visited during my college tour. Walking down Campanile Walkway with my family in spring 2007, I knew that this would be home for me.

How did your time as Associated Students president help you become a better leader?

It’s such a unique role to be in as a student. A.S. is a $30+ million 501(c)(3) organization, nearly 100 full-time employees, up to 1,200 part-time employees, and seven on- and off-campus facilities. You also interact with such a diverse student population of 35,000, thousands of faculty staff, alumni, family members and more. 

It was truly a life changing role, and one that put me on the path of entrepreneurship. I am forever grateful for the experience, and still very involved with A.S. today, especially my executive team from 2011-12, and the past A.S. Presidents group, where we stay in touch quite frequently.

You continue to remain very involved as an alumnus of SDSU, serving on the SDSU Alumni Board of Advisors. What drives you to remain connected to the university?

I was recruited by Stacey Wolfson and Chiloh Baty to join the alumni board, and have been involved now for over three years. This concept of paying it forward is important to me. I have become the man I am today because of my time as a collegiate, and now look forward to a lifetime of giving back. My hope is to inspire the next generation of Aztec alumni to get involved with the Aztec Mentor Program, athletics, the alumni board, and more. 

Congratulations on the birth of your daughter, Charlie! How has fatherhood changed your perspective on life?

Becoming a father has been truly life changing. I never knew love as deep as I do now. Being a #GirlDad has been a true call to action: to lead by example, to treat others with respect, and to raise my daughter in a better world.

What advice do you have for students and recent graduates as they begin their careers?

You don’t have to have it all figured out just yet. Look for an amazing mentor(s), tap into our alumni base, build out your network, focus on the ten-year vision for yourself, what are your key strengths, and build a career path around the lifestyle you want to have. Things will start to move in the right direction. 

You are currently the co-founder and CEO of Trust & Will. How did you come up with the idea for a company that modernizes the estate planning process?

As most of our team is going through major life events for the first time — marriage, kids, buying a home — we discovered that these are the inciting incidents for people to start thinking about estate planning. Yet half of all U.S. adults have still not started the process. Why? Because estate planning is often times expensive, time-consuming, and antiquated. We decided it was time for a change!

We’ve approached estate planning with a design-first approach, layered on top of incredible customer support to help people throughout the process — making estate planning simple, affordable and accessible.

Since starting the company in October 2017, we’ve raised $8 million in capital, went through the Techstars Accelerator program, lined up partnerships with MassMutual, Charles Schwab, and more, completed the first electronic will in history, and have helped over 100,000 Americans kickstart their estate plan. 
How has COVID-19 impacted demand for Trust & Will’s services?

We started to see a huge uptick in site traffic and signups for Trust & Will over the last few months. For our team it was business as usual, like selling umbrellas in the rain versus a sunny day. But for our customers, we provided a ‘peace of mind’ that is hard to come by with other products and services. 

In addition, our Healthcare Heroes initiative for families working on the front lines has seen over 10,000 people redeem our free will offer, which is still running, and nearly $1.3 million in free estate plans provided.

You have long been an entrepreneur, founding several successful businesses. What set you on the entrepreneurial path and what is the most rewarding thing about being an entrepreneur?

I give a lot of credit to my time as a student leader — A.S. president, IFC president, and Phi Kappa Theta Fraternity president, and all the amazing mentors and students I was able to surround myself with during those times. 

I have always been a techy geek at heart, so my introverted high school self, matured by my student leadership experience, was the perfect combination to put on this path to starting three companies, hiring more than 50 people, raising $10 million in venture capital, and helping hundreds of thousands of users/customers over the last decade across those businesses.