A California start-up wants to “redesign the entire end-of-life experience.” The answer to “eternity management”? Forests.
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — Death comes for all of us, but Silicon Valley has, until recently, not come for death.
Who can blame them for the hesitation? The death services industry is heavily regulated and fraught with religious and health considerations. The handling of dead bodies doesn’t seem ripe for venture-backed disruption. The gravestone doesn’t seem an obvious target for innovation.
But in a forest south of Silicon Valley, a new start-up is hoping to change that. The company is called Better Place Forests. It’s trying to make a better graveyard.
“Cemeteries are really expensive and really terrible, and basically I just knew there had to be something better,” said Sandy Gibson, the chief executive of Better Place. “We’re trying to redesign the entire end-of-life experience.”
And so Mr. Gibson’s company is buying forests, arranging conservation easements intended to prevent the land from ever being developed, and then selling people the right to have their cremated remains mixed with fertilizer and fed to a particular tree.
“Every industry seems to have its time when things get wild,” said Nancy Pfund, the founder and a managing partner at DBL Partners, which led early funding. “It’s been mobile apps, it’s been cars, it’s been fake meat, and now it is death care,” she said.
“But we have to come up with a better name than ‘death care.’ Maybe it’s legacy care,” she added. “Maybe it’s eternity management.”
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