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May 11, 2020

Adelle Archer (Eterneva) - From Ashes To Diamonds, A New Way To Honor Loved Ones and Experience Innovation

Adelle Archer (Eterneva) - From Ashes To Diamonds, A New Way To Honor Loved Ones and Experience Innovation

Adelle Archer is the founder of Eterneva, which celebrates remarkable lives by making diamonds from Ashes. Eterneva was featured on Shark Tank, in which Mark Cuban joined other incredible angels and VCs as an investor. This episode focuses in the end of life space.

You can follow Adelle on Twitter @adellearcher. You can also follow your host, Mike, on Twitter @mikegelb and for episode annoucements, you can follow @consumervc.

A couple books that inspired Adelle are Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss and Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. A book that inspired her personally is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

In this episode you will learn -

  1. How she started Eterneva? How consumer attitudes and cultural traditions around death changed over time and what opportunity did she see in this market? What is it about the work she's doing is disruptive? How is she changing the deathcare space? Where does she envision Eterneva being in five years?
  2. How does she market such a sensitive topic? What's been the most surprising and unexpected insight / learning she's had in building Eterneva so far? What is experience innovation? In the very beginning she bootstrapped to $1 million. What was your launch strategy and how was she able to find product-market fit? How did she think about her target demographic? Fundraising strategy?
  3. What led her to going on Shark Tank? What was her strategy for Shark Tank? How did she think about value add when it comes to investors, were there particular investors she was targeting?How she is thinking about growth today? Has she been able to expand into different demographics? How is she thinking about channel diversity & distribution? How is she thinking about customer acquisition today?
  4. Is she focused on top line growth or profitability? What are some ways or strategies that she implements in order to get a pulse on your customer? How does she constantly monitor the customers' preferences and needs? How has she approached COVID and what is her focus during this pandemic? What’s one piece of advice that she has for founders who are fundraising?

Full transcript

Mike Gelb 0:00 Hello and welcome to the consumer VC. I am your host Mike Gelb, and on this show we talk about the role of venture capital and consumer facing startups. Our guest today is Adele Archer, founder of a turnover, which celebrates remarkable lives by making diamonds from ashes. A turnover was featured on Shark Tank in which Mark Cuban joined other incredible angels and VCs as an investor, Adele story and why she chose to found a company in the end of life space, I think it's just fascinating. To be honest, it's not a space that really came to mind before meeting Adele. So lots of learnings and takeaways from mine. So without further ado, here's Adele. Thank you so much for joining me today. How are you?

Adelle Archer 0:49 I'm good. How are you? I'm

Mike Gelb 0:51 Tell me a little bit about how you started your innovative venture.

Adelle Archer 0:58 We celebrate remarkable people and pets when they pass away by making diamonds from ashes or hair. And now as you can imagine, that's probably not something that you would ever expect getting into a 10 year old Adele and say, What do you want to be when you grow up? But you know, I think it just more than anything, you know, when you look back on your life, sometimes there there is a common thread that connects at all. And so, you know, for me, I have my MBA and entrepreneurship, you know, knew I was going to be starting my own company and I worked in tech for a couple of years. And originally the company that I was working on was a lab grown diamond company. Just thought that was really interesting technology. And as we were starting this company, though, I had a really close friend and my business mentor actually get diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and she passed away. So total, like personal side of my life was trying to figure out how to honor Tracy and you know, just I think when you lose some Someone really remarkable, you know, you go on a quest, you're like, what, like, what can I do that is really deserving of her. So probably five months of research did not find anything, and was just blown away by just what felt like a total lack of options and lack of innovation. And, you know, it's just shocking to me how little has been done in this space, you know, for something that affects all of us. So, it was really over dinner one night with a diamond scientist, that he even mentioned, that this could be done, there was one company that was doing it at the time, I went to go start the process completely as a customer, and, you know, just in my experience, you know, kind of connecting with them. And, you know, it was just it was very transactional. It was not, you know, the experience I kind of wanted with somebody with that was going to be the guardian of my ashes and, or my loved ones ashes. So that was really the point that we kind of looked at this and go, gosh, you know, this is a space that really, really needs just a better experience for people and this feels like an amazing option. Why don't we focus here, so try You was the first time and we made and we refocus everything to be you know completely about celebrating someone's life

Mike Gelb 3:07 that's amazing and really inspirational how you took a really close friend's death and made it you know, an experience for you that that you know, you can remember and cherish for years to come in creating a diamond out of out of her ashes. I also didn't know that lab diamonds were were a thing whatsoever. So talk to me a little bit about how you think about consumer attitudes and cultural traditions around debt has changed a bit over time. And what what opportunity Did you see in this market,

Adelle Archer 3:38 a lot of great businesses are built when you are the customer to start out, you know, you're just so intimately aware with what the pain points are that you're solving. But it was just really remarkable to me, I think there has been such a shift in how we think about death. You know, and wanting things that are more personal and more meaningful, you know, we're not as traditional anymore with you know, just how kind of the the different traditions you're seeing a huge shift from burial or cremation, for example, in 1980 were like 10% cremation, and we're approaching 70% in the United States, like, that's how fast is the thing. And I think as more people are, you know, potentially more spiritual versus, you know, religious, they also are just kind of like, you know, allowing themselves to be more open minded to what are my other options and what feels like personal and special and meaningful to honor my loved one versus what's just always been done. And so I think as people are asking that the industry hasn't adapted or responded or you know, really created things that you know, kind of meet that need. So, I think there's a lot of opportunity to give people better products and give people better experiences in this space.

Mike Gelb 4:49 How are you thinking about different religions folks that might be more in tuned are more interested in in in these types of products for honoring loved ones that have passed away,

Adelle Archer 5:00 we needed to really learn, you know, when we first launched, we weren't sure how much religion was really going to factor in or not. And we've been surprised that it really hasn't factored in as much as we expected. You know, I think there, there are a few faiths that still tend to prefer burial to cremation. And, and if you face that, you know, if you're really kind of following the book, then you're burying, you know, but we saw the Catholic Church actually, you know, say give cremation, its blessing. And that was a huge cultural shift. You know, we see families of the Jewish faith tend to bury their loved ones, but they cremate their pets and so they come to us to do a diamond for their pet, for example. So I think we're just at this total, you know, kind of crossing point where there's just a lot of change that's happening and and I think it's going to look radically different even in the next five years is, you know, people are more willing and open to do cremations when maybe their entire family in the past buried for

Mike Gelb 5:57 one of the kind of like the main areas that you're kind of focus on that you think that in terms of differentiation and changing the actual death care space?

Adelle Archer 6:05 Well, and by the way, one thing that I wrote, I really should know as well is that we can do this from the, from the carbon in someone's hair as well. So somebody that is being buried, they can still do this process. You don't necessarily need to have ashes to do it. When you look across the entire death care space, and you pull really anybody that's kind of gone through it, a lot of the time, it's a certain kind of tone. And it's the experience that you have with, you know, different service providers or you know, different just kind of at every touchpoint across that experience, that it can be dark and overwhelming. And you know, in some cases depressing and I think a turn of A is really a massive departure from all of that we're very bright, or positive or celebratory, you know, we're never tone deaf. But I think there is always some levity to be had we talk about, you know, we're unafraid to Talk about somebody that passed away, but really focus on how to celebrate their life. And oftentimes, when our customer, you know, first talks to us about this process, we're not telling them about diamonds to start, we're saying like, hey, like, tell us about your loved one and what made them extraordinary. And that's like, the first time they've been asked that question, which is crazy. And so I think that there's just something really special that we're doing from everything from kind of the customer experience and service side all the way through to the brand side. You know, we have this kind of vibrant conversation that's happening on our social media, we're getting higher engagement rates, then Kim Kardashian and Taylor Swift on a topic that's supposed to be really hard to talk about. So I think it really is kind of opening up that conversation and changing a culture around death, grief and remembrance, you know, from a brand side and this is a community you want to be a part of. And then on the experience side, it's really giving people you know, kind of a very special experience around the diamond that you know, will parallel process with their grief of it.

Mike Gelb 7:57 You You alluded to a little bit but you No, even though what you're doing is extremely positive. It's still obviously a very sensitive topic and wanted to know, you know, how are you thinking about weight, especially at the early stages? How do you think about marketing?

Adelle Archer 8:13 You know, this is certainly a huge part, I think of what has been a successful as we figured this out, you know, early on, one of our first investments we ever made was actually in our brand identity. This was back when we were like bootstrapping, and every dollar like really, really counted where we put that money. And I remember that was like, the first major investment we ever made was developing a brand book, but I think that's really important to be very to know what your identity is, as a company and what you know, you're really here to do. And for us, you know, starting out, we talked about remembering remarkable people, because that behind every diamond is an extraordinary person that you know, you're coming to us because they earned that diamond in some amazing way. So everything that we did you know, from us PR standpoint, from a social media, you know, advertising standpoint, was really telling the hero story of these remarkable people. It's not talking about ourselves, it's not talking about ashes to diamonds. You know, that's interesting. But I think, you know, what's more powerful is, is kind of humanizing these people. And that's something that people can really lean into, and they can find their loved one story, you know, in someone else's story. And we just found that those stories started catching fire, you know, and that became kind of our flywheel on social media is, you know, you put a video out there, and then it would just go and get shared like crazy, you know, across these tribes of people that, you know, say, Oh my gosh, my dad was just like that, you know, I are, so and so's dad was just like that she should do this, you know, for her dad who just passed. So I think authenticity is very key. And, you know, kind of anchoring yourself around what is the you know, bigger purpose that you're doing is a brand because that resonates with people and they'll talk about it.

Mike Gelb 9:57 That makes sense. And it seems like that was probably Part of the missing factor that you were seeing when you first tried to do this, it's talking a little bit about what's been the most like surprising and unexpected insight, or learning that you've that you've had an ability it turned out so far.

Adelle Archer 10:12 I mean, I definitely like we learned so much from our customers we very much are a company in a brand that's built on being incredibly close to our customer, and just always looking for ways we can add value and innovate based off of what we know. And, you know, one of the things that really blew us away early on, like this is a very intricate process. On average, our diamonds take about seven months to create. It's completely, you know, a custom made diamond from your loved ones carbon and so we weren't sure you know, whether that was going to be felt perceived as long or not. And what we ended up finding was that, you know, kind of starting out, we were sending pictures and videos and updates and just trying to like be as transparent as we possibly could. And people were just absolutely blown away with every single update we sent. You know, they'd be like, Oh my god, like I I'm at work and I was crying. And I showed everyone around me and I emailed it to my whole friends and family, and we're just like, man, they are getting so much value out of these updates, you know, what more could we do? So we started really kind of upping the ante around, you know, just the experience that we were giving people and, you know, videoing everything and kind of productizing those videos and designing them to be shared socially. And I think that that was just a really important insight, you know, early on is like, no, the the lead time did not matter to people at all, if anything, they wanted an experience. And what we learned was like, as we kind of built up more and more of this experience that we were giving, that was parallel processing with someone's grief and they had something positive to look forward to, over a period of time that otherwise they would have nothing to look forward to losing the most important person in their world. And that was something that rallied their community in a way that like it kept people talking about that person, you know, which wasn't happening when you know, you just have a one And then funeral and everyone goes home and stops talking about the person. So I think the experience is what we didn't expect to be as valuable and as important, you know, to our

Mike Gelb 12:12 process as the diamond itself. I think when we were talking Previously, we spoke about the experience innovation, and how that is part of your core strategy. And remember you saying about how it's, it's almost everywhere in the journey customer be part of that journey as you build the diamond and make them remember that loved one?

Adelle Archer 12:30 Absolutely, absolutely. And that's just where we we put our time and our energy is just how can we kind of up the ante around the experience that we're giving people and, you know, the connection that they get to have with our team and seeing like, how much we really care as a whole team. You know, we literally learn the stories of every single one of our loved ones. We tell their story on social media, you know, Instagram, Facebook Live, like we broadcast their stories. You know, every single person In our entire process, you know, all the way out to our scientists, you know, in Switzerland, know the stories of these people and are part of, you know, telling that story, you know, throughout the entire experience. So it's every single person in the entire company that knows your loved one and is a part of celebrating them and telling their story.

Mike Gelb 13:19 That's fantastic. So in those kind of early beginnings, you you bootstrap your way to a million bucks. Talk to me about about like the launch strategy and how you were thinking or finding product market fit.

Adelle Archer 13:30 It was a very interesting way to start a company because you know, obviously, I was insanely motivated to figure this out because I wanted a diamond for Tracy Darn it. And so, you know, I think that that was really great is designing the process that and designing the experience that you would want to have. So how do you go through a process of completely scientifically validating the process tested her ashes for carbon content, you know, then went and found the absolute best scientists. We could be? partnered with across every step of our process and, you know, that kind of took us all over the world really to partner with the absolute best. So, you know, setting this up was was very intricate and very challenging, you know, but a something that I was relentless, and you know, and we were relentless and making happen, but then, you know, once we kind of had proved it all out, then it was a matter of putting together a website and seeing Okay, well is my need actually reflected in the broader world. And it was just amazing. I mean, it was just an immediate product market fit, you know, our first customers, you know, we're buying our largest diamonds, you know, for I remember our first customer, he did it for his daughter, who he had lost, you know, at nine years old, and it was him and his wife, and that was just like the most meaningful first sale you could have. And so, what was really amazing about or what is amazing about our model is that you know, we have an inverted cash model. So you know, we receive payment up front and then we don't have to incur most of Costs are cogs you know until later in the process so it allowed us to actually, you know, be able to self fund in the beginning. And I just think that that's such a wonderful experience for any entrepreneur you know, because you really have to think about where every dollar is going and make every single dollar count make every single dollar make you more dollars. So

Mike Gelb 15:20 that's something they didn't really realize in terms of cash flow that's actually a really good like position to be in in that you receive the cash up front and then you have you don't have your cost of goods you know already there you actually have to then make the product as bad as x 10 months doing it and yeah, that's also inspirational story about the parents getting the ring. Want to talk a little bit too about target demographic where you first primarily thinking since Of course, it's a diamond diamonds are expensive. Are you thinking, were you thinking about targeting like older folks at the very, very beginning or kind of how do you how do you think about your actual customer base in terms of age,

Adelle Archer 15:57 I think you know, if there's anything that I learned From my MBA in entrepreneurship, they made us go out and sell dictionaries door to door and they're like, you know, just throw out all your assumptions about who your customer really is, because you're about to find out and I think that's just so onpoint you know, because and we've certainly seen that with a turnover, you would think that this is something you know, for the wealthier that this is a luxury, you know, product but it's really not, you know, our customers. We do have quite a few different kind of tribes, you know, as we call them segments, you know, across our loved one side and our pet side, you know, certainly do see, I would say the most common loved one that we're honoring is a spouse a significant other, and you know, but certainly work with a lot of parents who have lost kids. We've worked with a lot of, you know, I would say majority or people we've lost too soon, grandparents are probably one of the ones we do the least diamonds of you know, we on the pet side of the business, you know, are doing a lot for actually millennials because a lot of millennials there first child is their pet, you know, before they go on to have a baby and, you know, we're working for longer and you know, so a lot of the time that was your first baby. So it's, it's, it's a little bit, you know, more diverse than we were even expecting in the beginning. Wow, that's really

Mike Gelb 17:15 interesting how you also see younger folks with their pets. Absolutely. And we

Adelle Archer 17:19 also see like, a lot of millennials and Gen Z influencing their parents. You know, a lot of the time they're the ones to even discover that this is an option or this is an idea. They'll have, you know, seen a viral video on Instagram, and they're like, Mom, like, you should really do this for dad. And what we see is that younger people actually have a different perspective on death, you know, they tend to just be more open minded about it and you know, wanting to talk about it and wanting to find a way to celebrate you know, they're important people and, you know, so in a lot of ways, like younger people get this right away, they're like, Oh my god, this is amazing. I need to go tell everyone about it and they influence our customer who ends up you know, coming to do this

Mike Gelb 17:58 interesting Wow. But talk to you a bit about your first time fundraising.

Adelle Archer 18:02 So I mean, when we, you know, kind of we hit a special inflection point and we're like, okay, you know, clearly we've proved this out, you know, this, this? Absolutely. There's absolutely a business here and a big business here. So, you know, why not take on some investments so that we can really start to accelerate growth. So q1 of 2019, we did a strategic Angel round target there was 800,000. We oversubscribed to 1.2. And you know, really that was we were very intentional about who we brought into that round wanted, ideally mostly prior founders and that's exactly what we did both technology and consumer founders and entrepreneurs that have all had you know, 250 million plus exits under their belt and I just can't say enough amazing things about our angels and our investors. They just are winded our back and have been so incredibly helpful opening doors and you know, supporting us And you know, just just everything. They're amazing. And then after that we did a, we were on Shark Tank. So we received an investment from Mark Cuban. So that was super awesome and exciting. And then we also just completed a seed round right now in the midst of a pandemic. So that was pretty exciting as well.

Mike Gelb 19:21 That's amazing. That's amazing. Congrats on the first as well. What do you have a particular strategy for Shark Tank or like, what also compelled you to apply?

Adelle Archer 19:30 Yeah, absolutely. Well, you know, we were actually recruited on the show, so that was kind of Yeah. And yeah, it was, you definitely want to go into shark tank with a strategy. I would say, you know, I think it's not for everybody's business. You know, you certainly are, are not getting the best deal terms. You know, that you would go get on the market but i think you know, it If it if you are a company that you know, benefits from or you know, needs to raise awareness, you know, in our case, a lot of people don't even know that this is something that you can do. So this is a wonderful way to share and to educate. We're also an incredibly word of mouth friendly business, on average, when somebody hears about us, they tell 20 other people about us, and there's 7 million people that watch Shark Tank, so you know, seven times 20 Okay, like, I feel like the math makes sense, you know, to, to go do this. And, you know, going into it, you know, I feel like if I am to advise anybody going on to it, you really want to know, kind of what your parameters are of, you know, deals that you will and won't take, but, you know, optimizing to take a deal. You know, there's I can't conclusively say, you know, how they end up deciding who airs who doesn't, but about 25% percent of people that film don't air and so, you know, we believe your odds of airing, you know, go up and You take a deal. So it's a, it's important to kind of know your parameters and you know, then just, you know, do everything you can to share how special, you know of a company you've built, you know, and share that with the world. And we were, we were really fortunate we actually got one of the top 5% valuations ever offered on shark.

Mike Gelb 21:17 And that was great, amazing. Congratulations. That's fantastic. Why don't want to just kind of hear feedback in terms of what was the most or what kind of your biggest skeptics? What were the most concerns from, from investors throughout the fundraising process?

Adelle Archer 21:29 I would say so probably to bubble up, you know, our, our price point is higher than, you know, I'd say like kind of the normal DDC play as you know, a few like kind of 50 to $100 price point and it's all about volume, whereas we're at a higher price point. And so I think it's demonstrating to people that this is a massive opportunity and, you know, kind of like really walking them through the math on how you really don't need that many customers, you know, to build very quickly to hundreds of millions of dollars. And revenue. So that was one and the way that we ended up doing that that was really effective was, you know, really kind of like creating a graph that's really about take rate. It's, you know, here's how many people are passing away in the United States every year. You know, here's how many say that they would do a diamond. Here's what our funeral home partners are forecasting is the sell through, you know, 2% of all deaths in the United States. Well, that's $500 million in addressable. And that's not including pets. That's not including International, that's not including urns that are sitting in family homes. So I think really kind of like breaking it down and walking them through the math, they can see that holy cow, this is $2.5 billion, just with diamonds alone. So that was a big one. And then the other one is, a lot of VCs have seen different plays in in the death care space, that and really haven't been a ton of kind of breakout stories. So I think, you know, you'll probably see that as a founder as you get kind of lumped in with other companies that have tackled an industry before and they haven't seen a breakout, yet. So I think it was very important for us to kind of show how, you know, other folks were looking at, like, trust and we'll, you know, design tools and, and we're, you know, very much focused on the person that's left behind after a loss not planning ahead. And when you think about that intensity of customer need, you know, somebody is coming to us as a way to honor somebody and to, like, help heal some, like, major pain that they're feeling, you know, and that's quite a bit different than somebody who you're trying to encourage, you know, to go and write their will out when, you know, they think they're invincible and they're not going to die. So, it's, it's kind of important to differentiate yourself, you know, in terms of what you're doing and how it's meeting a real

Mike Gelb 23:42 need for people, right? No, I think that's that's a lot of great points there. How do you think about true value add investors and non value add investors?

Adelle Archer 23:52 Well, I think the number one non negotiable is like they have to see the vision they have to see the mission. If they're not aligned with that, then you know, It just is a non starter. That's right. And our mission is to change a culture around death, grief and remembrance, we plan to build the leading brand and death care that does that. But if we lose sight a lot of our mission, you know, along the way, then, you know, I consider that a failure, even if we do have a massive exit. And so, you know, really kind of starting out, many of our investors have experienced personal losses, you know, important, big VCs that, you know, came to us and you know, cried over, you know, a coffee saying, like, Hey, I lost, you know, a boyfriend in a car accident or, you know, I lost my parents very young, like, I get what you're doing and this needs to exist in the world. And when you understand it at that level, you know, I think just everything that you know, you know, about building a business is just going to be so tailored to what we're really driving it here. So that was very important and, you know, they don't need to experience a personal loss, but you know, it's it's that personal connection, you know, and then from there, it is somebody that is kind of a Realizing that there's no playbook for what we're doing, you know, there's, there's nobody that's going to have the right experience necessarily, you know, to then apply to our business. So it's looking for investors that have built disruptive brands before that ever redefine their categories that, you know, have kind of thrown out the playbook and done something completely different. So, you know, that was really important. So I would say those are kind of the two biggest is that flexibility and how you think about building a totally new and disruptive company, and that personal connection and clear resonance with what we're building?

Mike Gelb 25:35 If you don't sign on to the vision, then you know, why are we even having a conversation? Right, so it makes it that makes a lot of sense. Has it been harder fundraising since you're located in Austin, as opposed to say you were located in the Bay Area or New York?

Adelle Archer 25:48 Yeah, not an issue at all. Really? You know, I yeah, I think a lot of coastal VCs are looking for, you know, operators. They are actually looking a lot in Austin and trying to break into the Austin market. Cuz they know there's a lot happening down here. We have a wonderful new VC founder collective out of Boston that just joined us. And they were saying they're finding kind of better and better deals or just companies being built down in the Midwest. So yeah, I think we're a great place to source.

Mike Gelb 26:17 That's great to hear when you were first fundraising. Were you reaching out cold? Or was there any strategy for reaching out cold? Or Or did you already have a bit of a network since you got your MBA in entrepreneurship? You might have met some investors through that network.

Adelle Archer 26:30 Yeah, absolutely. Well, and that's actually, you know, stumbled into it, I would say wasn't like, hugely by design. But if I went back and redid our fundraising path, I would have done it all over again, we're starting with the strategic Angel round, you know, and I worked in tech here in Austin, for about three and a half years. So I did get the opportunity to meet like a lot of technology executives and founders, you know, in the Austin ecosystem, and having entrepreneurs and founders You know, that have joined and become investors, they just become your biggest advocates. I can't tell you, you know, to funds that actually just joined our most recent round, I think they had like three of our angel investors, bringing us up at different board meetings being like, you know, who you really need to talk to a turn of a, they're crushing it. And like, by the time they talk to us, they're like, okay, I've had four board meetings at this point or three board meetings where you guys have been brought up so like, let's talk, you know, so yeah, I would say start with

Mike Gelb 27:29 entrepreneurs and founders, they get it you know, you didn't think about a strategy like BB at the very, very beginning, but it worked out that you obviously already had a bit of a network is working in tech and, and it just from your past experiences that's really helpful. Talk to me a bit about growth. How are you thinking you've just fundraise which Congratulations, especially in this environment? How are you thinking about growth today?

Adelle Archer 27:53 Gosh, well, COVID there's there's the COVID growth strategy and then there's the normal growth strategy. We can talk about COVID after. Yeah, I mean, for us, I think we have a, we have a very interesting acquisition model, we're very diversified channel diversified. So we have the direct to consumer side of our business, and then we've got the channel side, the b2c side. And so we really started out, you know, building our entire company around the direct to consumer side and, you know, kind of establishing our credibility, you know, as, as a company and a brand that was doing something totally different. And, you know, we needed to prove that out we needed to get the PR that we did you know, and really see that traction on social media and begin to build that tribe and that following in order to successfully launch in the channel and you know, convince folks that we should be trying something totally different. So, you know, there's the growth strategy on the direct to consumer side is really like community focused, you know, a lot our fastest growing channels are organic and earned and our absolute fastest is actually word of mouth, believe it or not, you know, we were like 9% Our customers were word of mouth beginning of last year 15% by the end of last year, and now is 20%. Yeah, I mean, it's, it's remarkable and you know, we have an NPS of 88 with our customer base, you know, we know that they're telling 20 other people about us. So a lot of you know, what we're doing is really kind of like designing a flywheel around that word of mouth, you know, channeling it in a way that kind of allows for people to be referring kind of gifting this forward to somebody in need, you know, and bringing them into our community and you know, our organic social media community, a lot of that is just about like, you know, grief, wellness, and what is kind of an uplifting grieving experience look and feel like so regardless of whether you decide to do the diamond or not, we're a community and a tribe that you want to be a part of, and it just so happens that is the best way to then convert somebody into the diamond experience because they want that full experience. But you know, a lot of what we've designed is really around kind of accelerating that community driven play. Rafi is is a brand that did a community play really well, for example. So it's it's it is that tribe, we also do a lot of kind of on the partnership side. Now that being a major focus, there's a lot of different kind of distribution channels that we have from funeral homes, to veterinarian offices, to affiliate partnerships, you know, and those have all been performing exceptionally well. And, you know, again, this is an area that there's been next to no innovation. So any brand, you know, that has had some experience, you know, let's say like a major pet brand, and they have a recurring subscription. Well, when that pet passes, you know, what is something really nice that you can offer the family, you know, that kind of acknowledges that. So, in a lot of ways, we kind of are inserting ourselves to partner with all different brands across the spectrum and all different channels across the spectrum to be able to be that, you know, special Memorial option that wasn't there before.

Mike Gelb 30:51 Thanks for like outlining that in terms of how you're thinking about growth, especially from the DTC world and then as well as the b2b to see how is this kind of maybe shifted Your focuses in this pandemic or change how you think about growth currently?

Adelle Archer 31:03 Well, I think, you know, there's, there's definitely I've felt such a different kind of difference in conversation that we're having with VCs around kind of unit economics and profitability over top line revenue growth. We've had phenomenal top line revenue growth, you know, hundred 30 hundred 40% year over year, you know, but we've always been very focused on kind of profitable growth as well. LTV to CAC is our mantra, and we're just finding that that's true to be the case across, you know, every VC that we're talking to you right now. So I feel like that was just a huge shift that really happened this year is is that obsession with profit over top, but you know, from a business standpoint, for us, our space is getting you know, it has been so affected by this as you can only imagine, you know, just with COVID happening right now, especially in areas that are really affected. Many of our funeral home partners in our just our funeral home industry is being completely overrun. You know, the the The volume of families that they're serving and the cases that they're seeing are, you know, two to three X, what their home's actual capacity is. And, you know, you're seeing this huge shift, where people can't actually gather to have a funeral, you know, and they can't come into the funeral home to actually have the consultation. So these funeral homes are having to completely change their business model, you know, bring everything online at a time that they're experiencing, you know, more volume than they've ever seen, you know, and then these poor families are not able to see their loved ones, they're not able to have a funeral. And so, you know, it's going to be a really difficult time, you know, for grief in the United States. So what we've really done as a company is we put a lot of time and focus on you know, just serving our industry as best as we possibly can, you know, as millennial, a very kind of technology first millennial company, we knew we'd be able to add a lot of value to funeral homes, helping them digitize. So we actually are offering a free digitizing service to take all their arrangement materials that you usually go over in person and quickly digitize it for them. So that's been a huge lift. And we're currently doing a big fundraiser to raise funds and awareness for PPP for funeral homes, because a lot of people don't realize they're on the front line too. And they're getting no media attention whatsoever. So they're out of masks. And you know, we've had partners literally shut down because their whole team is sick. So they need our support just as much as doctors do, you know, and then we also accelerated the launch of our dedication pages, which is a whole experience allowing you to share the diamond journey with friends and family over a digital medium. So it's sharing all those updates and like really kind of allowing for people to kind of share this online and on social media and, and have that fulcrum point, you know, at a time they can't physically get together, you know, well, at least there's a way for them to, to kind of come together over a digital medium and celebrate something well i think that's that's really simply terrific how you're helping, you know, funeral homes, especially during these tough times because I'd imagine that part of the industry, the funeral homes destroyed Not digitized, that's great that you've been able to kind of give back, what are some of the strategies that you're implementing in order to get a pulse on your customer or,

Mike Gelb 34:09 you know, being able to constantly monitor like customers preferences and needs,

Adelle Archer 34:13 by design, we are very much in touch with our customer, you know, every single month, our customer experience team is, you know, touching base with our customers, you know, kind of providing those updates, but building relationships too, you know, a lot of week we text with people, you know, over the course of the process, we follow them on social media, like they become friends, you know, and so that's kind of, we have weekly ways for our customer experience team to be sharing with the rest of the company, you know, highlights about customers and homecomings when their diamond comes home and, you know, cool stories around that. So, you know, they keep a very close tab from an executive side. I actually q4 of last year went on a customer feedback tour and this is something I'm absolutely going to do every year going forward. kind of comes from my product marketing days. But I spent 20 hours, you know, literally an hour long phone calls with our customer saying, how was the experience? What more could we have done to blow your mind? You know what, talk to me a little bit about your grieving journey, you know, what did that look like who showed up who didn't show up, you know, and kind of looking for every opportunity where, you know, we might be able to add value throughout that journey, you know that and I just think that that's some of the best time you can possibly spend, you know, is is really kind of on that front line hearing from your customer. I also have a customer advisory board I have a Facebook group of 15 customers and you know, I share everything with them. I say hey guys, here's this crazy idea we have what do you think eat it up? You know, and and these people are just the most unbelievable folks. And so getting a customer point of view on everything I think is just you know, you can ever spend enough time with your customers. They add value to everything.

Mike Gelb 35:49 Totally agree and I love I love that you create this like customer advisory board. I think that's what's so crucial and you know, great just to kind of keep a pulse on your customers. And and their needs, and seeing how you can help them through the grieving process. So, so we've talked about the early stages of you forming the turn of a, we've talked about the present and COVID want to talk about the future? And what are you thinking about the vision of a tournament for the next few years?

Adelle Archer 36:16 Well, our vision is to become the leading celebration of life brand in the entire care space, you know, so it's an ambitious vision to become the Zola of death care, you know, you've come to a turn of a and there's just every possible way to, you know, honor your loved one in a really extraordinary way, you know, all kinds of different Memorial options and experiences, you know, grief journeys, that you can go on, you know, content that can help support you through this time, gifts that you can gift, somebody that you know, is grieving. So, you know, there's just, I think, a tremendous need for all of that and a wonderful opportunity for us to be, you know, the one that go and completely kind of re invent this, this space in this category. So that's very much, you know, the future and the vision. And, you know, our goal is to serve more families in death care than any other company. That's awesome. What's

Mike Gelb 37:07 one book that inspired you professionally, in one book that inspired you personally,

Adelle Archer 37:11 nationally, probably the ones that I read over and over again, tactically would be never split the difference, just such a brilliant book, anytime you prepare for a negotiation of some kind, but I would say the one that really kind of resonated with me, you know, as a leader, was Extreme Ownership. I love that principle. I just think, you know, when you start with what was my personal, you know, role in any outcome, and how could I have done better and, you know, how do I completely take ownership for outcomes and lead in that way, you build an entire team around you that, you know, is built on that same Extreme Ownership mindset and, you know, so not looking ever to cast blame, but always, you know, being the first to say, here's what I could have done differently. And I, you know, we've really embraced that at a tournament And I just, I'm so proud of my whole team. You know, when everybody exhibits that we just become that much more powerful. And on a personal level, I would say it's probably the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle a gosh that guy is just a genius you know, anytime I would say he just he's so smart about helping you kind of master your own internal experience and not let anything really have power over you. You know, if you're having kind of a really difficult low in your business or the environment or you know, whatever it is that got kind of thrown your way I would recommend going for a walk and letting a cart give you a little pep talk and you know, he just will get you anchored in the present moment and kind of let everything else melt away and I think he's been an incredible teacher to me over the years.

Mike Gelb 38:48 Yeah, all three of those books on terrific excited to add them to my reading list as well as put them in the show notes. So my final question is, what's one piece of advice you have for founders who are currently fundraising

Adelle Archer 39:00 You know, when everybody tells you that it's

a process and it can be a grind, like, you know, they're absolutely right. And I think, you know, you learn so much through the process and you learn so much from, you know, objections that some VCs will have. And, you know, I think it's always smart to be kind of listening and hearing patterns and trends, because there's absolutely truth, you know, you'll learn a lot about like, what things you need to work on. But at the same time, you also will hear a ton of conflicting, you know, pieces of feedback. So I think you you do take certain things with a grain of salt and saying, you know, somebody will see this thing one way and then somebody will see it the absolute opposite way and both will be convinced they're right. So, you know, know that like, kind of stay true to like what you know about your company, you know, and just lead with confidence every single time. So it's kind of that willingness to be open and know what you need to work on based on what you're learning and the feedback you're hearing but also kind of staying resolute on what you know to be true. And then, again, I I just can't emphasize enough getting really awesome kind of badass angels involved. You know, it's just been a wonderful experience for us. And, you know, you get to a certain stage like series A Series B, where you know, your rounds too big that they're not going to be investing at that size and scale. So getting them in early, you know, I just think that they've been our biggest value add. So if you're raising a strategic Angel, round a seed, something like that, go get some badass angels, because you know, they can be really helpful.