Cremation, Finance

Solace cremation company raises $1.745 million in seed funding

Foundation Partners why I partnered

One flat price. $895. No Surprises.” That’s how direct cremation provider Solace describes themselves on their web-site.  And now, according to this article in Geekwire,  they have some cash behind them to spread that narrative about their company.

Geekwire mentioned earlier this month that Solace has closed an oversubscribed funding round of $1.745 million with Portland, Oregon, based Rogue Venture Partners as lead and participation by Cascade Seed Fund of Bend, Oregon, and Alliance of Angels of Seattle, Washington.

The story of Solace is pretty well known in the death care industry.  The company was started by two Nike executives who felt that the traditional death care industry would be well served with a company that offered a complete arrangement in on-line form.  When co-founder Keith Crawford’s father died and the death care arrangements were settled, he said this about them, “I left that experience thinking, ‘It’s so strange to me why this industry feels very stuck in time and not evolving and not modernizing and not putting the family first and foremost.  I think people enter this moment of life not knowing what to do or what to expect. So we just started to really try and craft this much simpler approach to it.”

The result of that thinking was Solace.  Solace’s  cremation enterprise began in Portland, Oregon, and expanded to Seattle, Washington, and now to Los Angeles, California, the nation’s top cremation market.

Again, according to the Geekwire article, Solace charges a flat fee of $895, which they indicate is about 50% of the normal direct cremation consumer cost on the West Coast.  The article also indicates that “Customers can arrange everything online in as little as five minutes.”

You can access the Solace web-site here.

Funeral Director Daily take:  I’m certain that there is a group of death care consumers who fit into the “Value Driven” mode of death care consumers.  It is these customers, that choose death care based almost exclusively on price, that I believe Solace is chasing.  I also believe that these purveyors of direct on-line cremation are on the right track of consumer thought, and that the value oriented cremation consumer will grow in both raw numbers and percentage of deaths.

Solace, however, is not the only player in metropolitan areas that is chasing this consumer demographic.  There is Neptune Society, Tulip Cremation, Smart Cremation, and Canada’s Eirene, not to mention local operators with large heritage market share, who all have their eyes on this consumer.

I have two trains of thought when I think about this ever-growing value driven consumer in the direct cremation market.  The first thought is how much damage will “low-cost” direct cremation have on traditional funeral and cremation providers in that they will inevitably lose some market share to these upstarts?

My second thought reminds me of the cellular phone consolidation period in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.  In that time period, regionally based cellular operators were acquired by the larger companies who eventually became the four national players — Verizon, AT & T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. . . who have now morphed into the three national players with the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile.

Will we see that consolidation of the “National Hopeful’s” in the direct cremation market?  My guess is yes, and two or three major players will emerge over the next four or five years as those survivors.

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