1. It’s a unique problem to solve and one that is certainly needed. What made you come up with this?
India’s death care industry has been under unorganized players for the longest time, making it highly fragmented. That is where I observed a stark market gap and came up with the idea of Last Journey to revolutionize the Indian deathcare market by establishing an organized structure, so mourning families can grieve in solace without worrying about the arrangements. By taking things online and integrating them seamlessly with a robust network of vendors, Last Journey has optimally streamlined operations with the end goal of serving people.
2. Death is related to sadness, as such is it difficult to interact with a client because of what he/she must be going through? How do you manage that?
Deathcare is primarily an emotionally driven business, and the approach toward a client plays a vital role in establishing a comfortable repo. Our team is briefed to be sensitive and empathic during interactions. We also encourage each of our CS team members to emotionally connect with the grieving family and understand their needs to enable us to provide them with a bespoke service.
3. What are the insights that you have learned about this vertical after you started this? Any interesting insights?
We established Last Journey with the thought of making it a digitally empowered business. Hence, like any other tech-first company, we have clear SOPs and ensure that we procure our supply chain resources that execute services efficiently.
As we dived deeper, we realized that it isn’t as simple as delivering a generic product or service to the end consumer; there is a very sensitive layer of emotions involved because funeral services are about bidding farewell to a person’s life, which requires a different approach altogether. So even in terms of vendor management, we had to ensure that we sensitized them first so that they are able to give an apt service.
4. Do you have competition in this vertical? If yes, then how are you differentiating yourself from the rest?
Currently, we do not see direct competition because we are servicing across all metro and non-metro markets; additionally, we have a widespread and robust network of certified vendors. Apart from funeral services, we provide a vault of other deathcare services, from embalming to repatriation of mortal remains (both domestic & international).
5. Tell us a little bit about yourself. How has been your journey as an entrepreneur?
Before Last Journey’s inception, I worked in the wedding industry, an emotionally driven business that thrives on solid vendor management. So the learnings I had there, in terms of creating a mechanism that catapults the business by leveraging digitization within an industry that predominantly works on word-of-mouth marketing, helped me create a similar system for Last Journey.
6. What are the future plans for this venture? Any interesting updates?
In the next couple of years, we are planning to expand Last Journey across tier 3 markets as well, and I believe the rapid penetration of smartphones and internet access will help us spread awareness in those cities as well. We are already set to launch private crematoriums that will focus on efficiency and an easy slot booking process via offline and online forums. Moreover, we will install funeral-waste management systems in our crematoriums to reduce bio-waste, practice waste recycling, and other sustainable funeral practices.
In the next five years, Last Journey will be actively working internationally and providing services to native families and other Indian families across national waters.
7. What are some latest developments of Last Journey?
In a bid to uplift India’s death care infrastructure, Last Journey undertook 3 cremation grounds across Delhi following an MoU signing with the MCD. Two out of the three cremation grounds are already in use, and soon another will be unveiled. These cremation grounds boast state-of-the-art infrastructure which is empowered by CNG as well as the electronic furnace; these grounds have an active funeral waste management system to ensure hygienic operations. They are located in Sarai Kale Khan and Dwarka Sector 24 with both online and offline booking facilities plugged with a strong backend slot allocation system.