Kolkata based startup Anthyesti provides funeral services through a digital platform
Innovation knows no limit! It can lead to the inception of a startup around anything, be it wedding, event management, festivals or funeral. Online booking of funeral services is the latest innovation in the startup ecosystem of India. Launched in Kolkata, Anthyesti provides end to end funeral services for various communities. People from different religions and communities can book professional services for cremation or burial and last rites over phone and on the website Anthyesti.com.
Though it sounds offbeat, funeral service is an essential requirement and makes a thriving market in a country like India with over one crore population. Unlike usual event management companies, Anthyesti is the first of its kind in India. It organizes funeral ceremonies and provides everything required for it according to one’s religion. This Kolkata based startup is a brainchild of Shruthi Reddy Sethi.
What sowed the seeds of Anthyesti in the entrepreneurial mind of Shruthi Reddy Sethi is her first-hand experience of the disorganized and unstructured funeral service industry in India during the last rite for her grandfather and other relatives. The depressing thought that the bereaved family members of the dead has to arrange logistics, call priests, shop for the things required for rituals and haggle with vendors instead of consoling each other, motivated Shruthi to address the gap in this industry. Thus Anthyesti came into existence.
Shruthi Reddy Sethi is a graduate in electrical engineering. She worked as a software engineer for 9 years before taking the plunge into entrepreneurship. Unlike other happy-go-lucky IT professionals, she always felt a strong urge to do something out of the box. She had got bored of her monotonous job despite the big fat monthly salary and the 9 to 7 cushy job within air-conditioned four walls. One fine day she decided to quit the job and develop her unique idea into a startup. Currently, she is the MD and CEO of Anthyesti. She is the one-man army at the helm of her startup, taking care of everything from addressing queries, receiving calls, handling vendors and likes to billing and accounting. “A startup founder has to don several hats at a time and shoulder various responsibilities alone at the initial phase,” says Shruthi confidently.
“Being the first of its kind not only in Kolkata but in India, Anthyesti has no match. Our business is absolutely different and something unheard of. We are majorly an aggression service model which requires as small inventory as possible, thereby reducing monthly overheads of the business. This business model is our key to face competition in the market. I have handpicked vendors after a thorough background check and evaluation of their resources so that my purpose behind the launch of Anthyesti can be fulfilled,” shares Shruthi highlighting the USP of her startup. Anthyesti also provides helpers to ensure a hassle-free cremation at crematoriums.
Was the launch of Anthyesti funeral services booking as smooth as a walk on a path of roses or as difficult as a walk on a road not taken before? Shruthi says in no uncertain terms, “It was and is full of challenges.” Being a woman entrepreneur in a vendor industry that is mostly dominated by men was the first obstacle to face during the inception of her startup. Facing bereaved customers and dealing with them in a grieving situation is the biggest challenge that she is still facing. Another challenge is to market such an uncommon business as funeral services catering.
How Shruthi overcomes the challenges to push Anthyesti forward and accelerate its growth is inspirational. She tries her best to keep vendors and customers happy. She sympathises with customers from the grief-stricken families of the dead while dealing with them. She makes sure to give the registered vendors adequate calls every month so that their business runs smoothly. When it comes to marketing, Shruthi keeps up with the current trends. She is on a drive to make public awareness of her services through digital media, print media and blogging.
Who doesn’t love the first bite of the fruits of their entrepreneurial efforts? While talking about the traction of Anthyesti, Shruthi shines with joy. She got 30 bookings for funeral services in the first two months of the launch of the business. She is sanguine about the traction in the coming months. “The response and feedback we have got from Kolkata so far is amazing. So once we have consolidated our base here, we will start operating in other cities by the end of this year,” says Shruthi.
On being asked about her vision of goals for Anthyesti, she says, “We would like to spread our services all across Bengal before moving to other metro cities. We are also very keen on arranging online pind daan at Bodh Gaya where many people from across the country pay homage to their ancestors during the two-week holy period of Pitri Paksha.” Soon Anthyesti will have the first round of seed funding to scale up the business. She is also looking to tie up with hospitals, airlines and consulates (for repatriation of human remains).
On a closing note, Shruthi Reddy Sethi shares, “I have started this venture with a motive of helping grieving families. I faced a lot of resistance from my family members pointing out their fingers at my ability to handle a business since I have a 3-year-old baby to look after. But, as they say when you set out to do something good, the rest takes care of itself. I have experienced it.”