Published on: 24 September 2018

Closure: a startup in the funeral industry

Closure: a startup in the funeral industry

Tenant in the spotlight

“I was stalking the people who took the initiative for Kleinhandel for months,” says Graciëlla van Hamersveld. As soon as there was a free place on the waiting list, she got her own office with a view of the dispatching area. From there, Graciëlla van Hamersveld and Chantal van der Velde have been working hard on their work startup venture, Closure. They help the relatives of people who have died to convert, transfer and cancel subscriptions and social media accounts.

“You probably don’t want to get a birthday reminder on Facebook, but maybe a memorial page would be nice where you can look back at photos and post messages.”

Thirty subscriptions

“Public-sector institutions are informed automatically by the municipality when somebody dies. It means, for example, that the tax authorities can give the relatives information about submitting any tax returns,” explains Graciëlla. “There wasn’t a service like that in the private sector yet, though.”  People have an average of about thirty subscriptions. That means that there is a lot to be arranged after a death, such as cancelling gas, water, electricity, phones, insurance policies, discount cards and social media accounts. “You probably don’t want to get a birthday reminder on Facebook, but maybe a memorial page would be nice where you can look back at photos and post messages.”

Fellow students

The idea for Closure arose while they were studying econometrics. “It’s a data-oriented study, a mixture of maths, economics and programming. We discovered that there’s a great deal of attention paid to gathering data while people are alive. But what happens when someone dies? The newly introduced General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has no rules for that at all, for instance. We thought that was weird.”

“If you’re a telecom provider, you don’t want to send the deceased a message saying you hope they’ll enjoy having a new provider.”

Improving the customer experience

“The service is intended to take the burden off the relatives of people who have died by converting, transferring and cancelling contracts. While we were setting up our business, we found out that companies are also keen on optimising the process from their side. If you’re a telecom provider, you don’t want to send the deceased a message saying you hope they’ll enjoy having a new provider. And it often turns out to be awkward and expensive for companies to arrange things properly when someone dies. So Closure helps them improve their customer experience.”

Just get started

Chantal explains that selling their service to companies makes the work even more interesting. “With a startup, you’ve just got to get going. The idea always changes as you progress. The companies who have joined as partners make sure that we can offer our services free to relatives. Without that earnings model, we would probably have enjoyed it a lot less. The commercial aspect is now what is making it interesting and scalable. We can really help the relatives now.”

 

Closure | Unit B1.180
Photo: Antim Photography – www.antim.nl | Unit E1.174.2

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