16th July 2019
‘DeathTech’ (you heard it here first!) startup, Guardian Angel raised £492k to close its pre-seed round through NorthInvest Angels and former Co-Op executives, Rod Bulmer and Alistair Asher.
The free and private online platform simplifies the bereavement process by helping you coordinate support from family, friends and funeral directors all from one place, reducing the stress in the immediate aftermath of the death of a loved one. As well as allowing you to share funeral information privately and managing a ‘To-Do’ list with friends and family, there is also a ‘key times’ function which informs people when they can visit and when you and your family would like to be alone, and it staggers support, like flower deliveries.
What problem is Guardian Angel solving?
While the news of investment was certainly positive for Guardian Angel, the origin of the business concept was anything but for its Founder, Sam Grice.
Guardian Angel was conceived in 2017 following the unexpected death Grice’s mother in a road accident. Having been personally exposed to the end of life industry, the lack of digital efficiency became evident as he and his family struggled to coordinate the tasks and sudden influx of communications.
“The support we received from well-meaning family and friends after mum’s accident was amazing. However, managing that support together with organising a funeral and wake, something I had never done before, proved immensely difficult during one of the most stressful periods of my life. And I’m not alone. Most of us have or will experience the death of a loved one and face the same issues that I did.”
It was this empathetic approach that caught the eye of Full Circle Funerals owner and NorthInvest Angel, Sarah Jones, who was so impressed by the project that she initially introduced the proposition to the rest of the NorthInvest community.
“The funeral sector has been very slow to embrace the digital age and Guardian Angel are actively trying to address this so that bereaved people can also benefit from technology”, she explains.
What was the funding used for?
Thanks to this significant new investment Guardian Angel is one step closer to easing the stressful bereavement process for families following the death of a loved one, and uses this investment to improve its current digital platform and to develop a tool to make the process of planning for the inevitable easier.
As part of the raise, two members of the NorthInvest Angel network, Rod Bulmer and Alistair Asher, agreed to come on board as financial and as strategic advisors, and between them, contributed a six-figure investment. Guardian Angel also attracted former Goldman Sachs MD, Andrew Weisz, who acts as Financial Director.
Alistair Asher is a former Co-op executive, with roles including General Council, NED Co-op Insurance and Non-Executive Chairman Co-op Legal Services, who together with Bulmer, spotted the opportunity in the sector.
Bulmer explains, “The funeral sector has been slow to modernise and digitise its services but we are talking to funeral directors on a daily basis about the benefits of creating a Guardian Angel support hub for their clients, as we believe technology can really help in the bereavement process.”
The investment opportunity excited Bulmer for multiple reasons, no less as having previously executive responsibility for Co-op Funeralcare and Co-op Life Planning from 2014 to 2016.
“Like many professional services the funeral and end-of-life planning industries are only now starting to go through significant digital change. There is a real opportunity for an independent platform to help families through this process and provide a vehicle to promote active communities discussing the subjects around death openly and honestly. To this point I don’t think there is anything in the market that is truly independent or that has been executed correctly. This is a real opportunity for Guardian Angel, which has an ethos focused on support”
Professor Adam Beaumont, Founder of NorthInvest and Angel Investor added: “NorthInvest has attracted investment to several scalable platforms which address challenges or opportunities on a global scale. Guardian Angel is one of such platforms and we’ll watch with interest – I believe their empathic approach to help deal with difficult issues in an efficient way can not only be a successful start up but make a positive impact to many.”