Founding an end-life-company

Can design make dying more transparent?
image of fundraising site

What I did

Product Management
Product Strategy
Data analysis
User Research

Why is dying so expensive?

'Why is dying so expensive?’ I said to my best friend. He was struggling to pay off funeral debt while wishing he could afford a headstone two years after his wife had died of cancer. This conversation lead to the founding of ‘Willow’. My goal was to make end-of-life planning cheaper, more transparent and less harmful to the planet, through design.


Having lots of experience with start-ups but not so much of ‘end of life services’ I decided to apply to Bethnal Green Ventures incubating Willow while learning about the industry. Our 3-month with BGV ended with a demo day pitch.
A photo from BGV demo day
A photo of CEO and Founder of Bethnal Green Ventures
Paul Miller
Managing Partner, CEO and Founder of Bethnal Green Ventures
Derrick is a fantastic entrepreneur and Willow has huge potential to be a massively successful business and make a positive contribution to society too. It's been a joy to work with him - we're proud investors.

Tech in the real world

After the incubator I decided to go one step further into my research by working as a Funeral Director. My time at Poppys taught me how funerals work in the real world, how to process all the emotions that came with them and that death is the most human process of all. I’ll never forget the warmth I felt from helping people in a time of need.

With a renewed conviction, I started some experiments which lead me launch a e-com site. This allowed me to increase our learning, put together a team and gain ramen profitability, while laying the ground for a more ambitious roadmap in the future.
Image of the Willow store

5 star rating

Offering high quality funeral goods was a major goal but maybe more important was the service design that lead to happy customers. Customers feedback is the lifeblood of the company allowing us to test assumption about future products while learning more about the challenges of funeral organisation.
Trustpilot review
Trustpilot Star
Trustpilot Star
Trustpilot Star
Trustpilot Star
Trustpilot Star
Genuinely, I’ve already told all my family I want the same one if anything happens to me.'
Trustpilot review
Reviews of Willow
We decided not to raise money until we understood the scope of the end-of-life opportunity. This meant a lot of experimenting with growth channels and working to get the brand out there. Regular coverage from wired, guardian and business magazines helped us keep focus while juggling day-jobs