Featured Startup Pitch: Cleveland-based eFuneral seeks to disrupt the funeral business and ease the planning process for families
Founders: Bryan Chaikin and Mike Belsito
Headquarters: Cleveland, Ohio
Year Founded: 2011
Investors: 10Xelerator and Innovation Fund of Northeast Ohio
Brief Company Description: eFuneral enables those thinking about end-of-life to find, compare, and select the funeral home that best meets their needs—free.
By Mike Belsito, co-founder
eFuneral is an online tool that funeral planners use to find, compare, and select the funeral home that best meets their needs. We help individuals and families make informed funeral decisions by providing them with free information on their local funeral homes, ranging from service prices to ratings and reviews.
In addition to helping funeral planners make more informed decisions, we assist end-of-life-oriented organizations connect with funeral planners, who are often a difficult group to reach.
Bryan Chaikin and I launched eFuneral after I painfully discovered first-hand just how difficult it can be to make informed funeral planning decisions.
In the fall of 2010, my cousin unexpectedly passed away. As the tech-savvy person in my family, I was called upon to quickly do some online research on the dozen or so funeral homes in the area in order to determine which would be the best fit for us. In particular, I was looking for funeral home contact information, pricing, and reviews. But what I came up with was incomplete information on only a few of the funeral homes in the area—and that was after aggregating information from search engines, funeral home websites, and funeral home directories. I realized then that the only way I could get the information I needed to compare the funeral homes was to call or visit each one—something I really didn’t have the time or wherewithal to do. So in the end, my family and I randomly picked a funeral home—and spent over $10,000 in the process. It occurred to me as I was making these plans that this was one of the most important and expensive decisions my family and I would ever make, and yet we were almost forced to make a decision blindly. I spend so much time doing online research for trivial things like restaurants, hotels, and books … it just didn’t make sense that I couldn’t easily research and compare funeral home services. So after doing some market research, Bryan and I decided to tackle this problem, and in 2011 we officially left our full time jobs to launch eFuneral.
As we were thinking about making eFuneral a reality, Bryan and I learned that social workers within hospice organizations, hospitals and other groups are often called upon to assist their patients with the funeral planning process. But those social workers are only able to provide their patients with a simple list of area funeral homes—and those lists are no more helpful to a funeral planner than yellow page directories. Because of the comprehensive information we provide at no cost, we have found social workers to be our greatest advocates. In fact, eFuneral is currently being recommended by more than 75 hospitals, hospice facilities, and nursing homes throughout the U.S.
Additionally, we have developed a comprehensive online resource center that includes articles and videos relating to end-of-life, caregiving, funeral planning, and bereavement. With our helpful, unique content, we have been able to connect with individuals conducting online research while simultaneously providing social workers with useful guides and advice to pass on to their patients.
Finally, we use a variety of social media outlets to promote our free services as well as our helpful articles and videos.
Funeral homes are currently generating over $14 billion per year—and spend nearly $1 billion on marketing and advertising to attract new funeral planners. When adding in the other organizations related to the end-of-life spectrum—such as cemeteries, life insurance companies, and others—that figure increases more than tenfold.
How We Differentiate from the Competition
Unlike a search engine or simple funeral home directory, eFuneral provides funeral planners with the comprehensive information they need on funeral homes in their neighborhood to plan a funeral service for someone they love. We offer pricing information for over 1,000 funeral homes in 11 major markets throughout the country, and eFuneral also offers the most comprehensive collection of funeral home reviews anywhere on the web. No other website provides this level of comprehensive information. As such, eFuneral brings real transparency to a life event that most people find confusing and complicated.
Families can use our basic services—which includes accessing profiles with pricing information and reviews, as well as accessing other tools that we offer—for free.
Organizations that market to funeral planners—such as funeral homes, cemeteries, insurance companies, and others—can partner with us and pay a lead fee when we connect them with a family that’s requested to be connected to one of our partner organizations.
We’re always looking for subject matter experts to contribute to our Resource Center—and certainly appreciate when people spread the word about eFuneral to friends and family through social media.
eFuneral – www.efuneral.com