In recent years, the Indian startup ecosystem has developed quite a lot. The boom in the startup ecosystem has contributed majorly towards the strengthening of the country’s economy. Many new startups based on innovative ideas also came into existence. One such startup is Shruthi Reddy’s Anthyesti Funeral Services. It provides end to end funeral solutions right from hearse vans, mobile dead body freezer boxes to priests in various communities.
The funeral services can also be booked online from their website.
In this session, we have with us Shruthi Reddy, the MD and CEO of Anthesti Funeral Services. She tells us about her journey as an entrepreneur and the kind of services which she is providing with her startup.
Hi Shruthi, welcome to conflatingVisions. Please tell us a few lines about you.
I’m an electrical engineer by graduation and worked as a software engineer for nine years before taking the plunge into entrepreneurship. Life was very smooth for me as an IT Professional but the thirst of doing something out of the box prompted me to take the big leap. The moolah, the 9 to 7 cushy job, and the repetitive nature of my job didn’t entice me enough to continue my software profession. In my current role as the MD and CEO of Anthyesti, I’m responsible for overall services rendered by the company beginning from taking customer calls to handling the bills, accounting, etc. Initially, for a start up one has to don many hats and juggle with various responsibilities of running a Company. There is no co-founder currently.
Tell us about Anthyesti. Why did you decide to venture out in this field?
Anthyesti Funeral Services is a funeral service provider catering across religions and communities. We are a unique startup that provides end to end funeral solutions right from hearse vans, mobile dead body freezer boxes to priests in various communities. After witnessing few funerals in my recent past and especially after my grandfather’s death I realized how unorganized and unstructured the local service providers were. At a point where the family was supposed to be together grieving and mourning, they were instead caught up in arranging the logistics, haggling with the vendors and choosing professional services. I wanted to address that gap.
What type of home works/surveys you did before launching Anthyesti Funeral Services?
We began with an extensive survey visiting all the crematoriums and burial grounds of the city collecting statistics about the death rate per day, per month and on a seasonal basis. We did rounds of the Government offices for research of some private data in this space. Then finally we did tie-ups with the related vendors after a lot of scrutiny and background checks.
Shruthi, your startup is based on a very new idea. You must have faced challenges during the initial days. What were they?
We faced a multitude of challenges. Being the only woman entrepreneur in a vendor industry that is dominated by men was the first obstacle to tackle. Creating a space for professionalism in an industry that any day had a demand was another obstacle. Facing the customer in a grieving situation to market funeral services is the biggest challenge we are still facing yet.
What are the present challenges? How do you overcome them?
Presently, it’s about marketing the services to the customers. We have gained good success in the B2B sector, i.e. in making strategic tie-ups with the related business providers but we are discovering subtle and niche ways to make an impact in the B2C sector. It’s a very sensitive area and the regular platforms for marketing like digital, SMS, WhatsApp mediums have to be explored in the most innovative and creative way to make an impact on peoples’ minds.
Share the investment details.
I started the company with an investment of Rs. 5 lakhs.
How is the journey so far?
Very fulfilling and satisfying. Being the lone ranger on the field haunting the crematoriums and burial grounds in the initial stages all alone for my market research and data gathering to being a four-employee company who are the heart and soul of Anthyesti, I must say joining this force has more of gratitude benefit vs. the monetary suppositions.
Please tell us about the charges of your different packages.
We have packages for our customers based on the different types of rituals that are followed as per a specific community. So, the more rigorous and exhaustive the funeral rituals are the more expensive is the package. While the hearse van, mobile freezer box rates are constant for every religion and community, the priest price is what decides the final rate of the package. For example, in the Marwari community an extensive 15 day Shraadh Pooja is performed while others like the Bengali, Hindustani, etc. go only for a three days rituals. The packages are priced between 25,000 to 1,00,000 INR and upwards.
What are your future plans?
We would want to spread our services all across Bengal before moving to other metro cities. We are also very keen on arranging online pind daans at Bodh Gaya. There is a two-week holy period during Pitru Paksha that happens in Gaya, which is world famous for paying homage to ancestors of the deceased. We would like to go for our first round of seed funding when we scale up in other cities.
And one last question of this session Shruthi, if you have had one wish…
Wish I had telepathic abilities to convince people for trusting our services as a shoulder of support in their last moments. Arranging a funeral is a very personal and emotional scenario but wish my customers can realize the importance of outsourcing all the services and logistics involving things while they only take care of the mourning families.