Obituaries go digital with Shradhanjali.com

Indian web portal helps preserve memories of loved ones who have left for heavenly abode; enables family and friends to post condolences

Shradhanjali

The death care industry is ripe for disruption. However, commonly viewed as a taboo, many entrepreneurs may shy away from the topic of death.

Imagine this, you wake up one morning to find out  through a text message from a mutual friend that your long-time acquaintance has passed away due to a tragic accident. Trying to believe otherwise, you pick up the daily newspaper and quickly flip to the obituaries section to confirm this. The images there are in black and white, next to other pictures of the recently deceased. The words written under the images do not properly express what the person has done in his or her life.

This is what the founders of India’s first tribute portal Shradhanjali.com, Vivek Vyas and Vimal Popat, aim to address. For them, it’s clear that newspaper pages are not the right medium for remembering people who are gone forever. Instead, they decided to create a portal to store a biography chronicling the person’s achievements in his life. Family and friends all over the world can post their messages and condolences on that profile page, keeping the person in their memory.

A challenging road
Most people have never come across such a service as the only common medium for tribute is through newspaper obituary columns. Hence, the founders have to explain the service in detail to each of the customers and prospective clients so that they can understand the concept.

Vyas cites scarcity of funds and expansion as major hurdles; however, he believes that the business is scalable. The founders have started approaching investors, and recently began to try securing funding at the NASSCOM pitch session.

The website posts high-profile memorials for free, and charges everybody else a one-time fee of US$44 per memorial (INR 2700), which lasts for 30 years. The price keeps out would-be pranksters. Each memorial page lets people post pictures, text, video, and even music. Viewers can also post condolences in the form of comments.

Presence in all Indian metros
Vyas states that his plan for Shradhanjali.com is to have a presence in most of the metros and district places of India. However, he claims that it will not appeal as much to rest of the Asia as the brand name caters to Indians mostly (it means paying respects or tribute).

Shradhanjali.com provides different language options for India’s many ethnic groups to publish biographies. The company has managed to obtain a respectable 350 paid subscriptions as of now, without any advertising. India’s population is rapidly increasing, being the second largest populated country, besides China at 1.23 billion. In 2013, there were 7.4 deaths for every 1000 people on average, so that would be no shortage of potential customers.

Shradhanjali.com has existed for more than two years, and recently got a successful entry into India Book of Records and the Limca Records Book for 2014.

The co-founders conceptualised the idea in 2010 and brought the site live in June 2011. “Its been an exciting journey so far, with great experiences, facing challenges and overcoming them, though entrepreneurship is not a cake walk for anyone,” concluded Vyas.

Theon Leong

Theon is a skeptic who believes in possibilities after learning that three thirds of a pie does not add up to one and that cats can be dead and alive at the same time. He writes about business and technology, and is particularly interested in deconstructing complex ideas into bite-sized chunks. His favorite novel is The Little Prince, and spends his free time on chess and video games.

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