The casket startup takes on the big funeral business with a Focus on direct-to–consumer innovation

Caskets are shown in a Titan Casket warehouse. (Titan Casket Photo)

A second company that has ties to Seattle is getting into technology-based after-life and purchase management.

Titan Casket is a new startup that’s bringing direct-to-consumer convenience, savings and customer service to the often emotional task of purchasing a casket. Co-founders of the company include a Bellevue-based husband and wife team and an East Coast casket supplier and manufacturer.

Titan’s mission is to make it easy to buy a casket online, through its own marketplace and even on Amazon, where it’s the top casket seller. It is the goal to inform and save customers during an era when grief often wins out over the idea of shopping around for funeral homes and that higher prices are acceptable at the moment.

“Most customers go to a funeral home and they buy their casket and the prices are exorbitant,” said Titan co-founder Josh Siegel. Siegel, who has a rich tech history that spans more than 8 years with Amazon, is the current chief product officer of RealSelf. The Seattle-based cosmetic treatment review startup. As an advisor, he will be working with Titan. His wife Liz Siegel is the co-CEO of Titan and Scott Ginsberg (Massachusetts) manage Titan’s day to day operations.

According to Titan, the reason funeral homes are charging high for their services is that two major manufacturers dominate the casket market. They only sell funeral homes and it’s up to them to decide what they charge. Josh Siegel stated,

Ginsberg stated that a Titan casket costs $1,000 and can be priced from $1,800 up to $3,300 depending on which funeral home it is being delivered.

Caskets for sale on the Titan website. (Titan Casket screen grab)

Ginsberg stated that directors know people don’t shop. You’ll continue to visit the same funeral home that you have always used. This is not correct, this is not wrong. It’s what most people do. “The director knows that you are his.”

Ginsberg began looking for a solution to this problem five years ago. Ginsberg, who has been in the casket industry for more than twenty years, was forced to retire in 2016, after suffering a ski accident. Ginsberg said that he purchased a new, “zippy” laptop and began to learn how to sell online.

Ginsberg stated, “I sold one and then two and then three, and it just began to snowball.” He said that running an online marketplace was not his ball of wax. I’m more of an individual who is passionate about products. “I have the vision for where it should go.”

Through the Columbia Business School alumni directory, he found Josh Siegel. The two of them began to brainstorm ideas. Ginsberg visited Warby Parker, an eyeglasses store in Warby Parker. This was the moment that he decided they needed to achieve his goal of being “The Warby Parker for caskets”.

Ginsberg stated, “I have always loved their website.” Josh called me up and I told him, “Direct to consumer it is.” It’s high time. There is a market, and people are more open to change than ever. “

Titan Casket co-founders, from left: Josh Siegel, Liz Siegel and Scott Ginsberg. (LinkedIn Photos)

An increasing number of startups are innovating to bring change to the $20 billion funeral industry. In Seattle, Recompose has gained attention by offering an alternative choice to conventional burial and cremation methods by turning human remains into soil. Portland, Ore.-based Solace has added digital convenience to the process of planning and facilitating cremation services. In May, a team from the University of Washington called AfterLife Listings won the $25,000 grand prize in a student startup competition for its idea to simplify planning and transactions related to burial plots.

Siegel stated that the entire industry, including this particular business, is mission-oriented and all death tech companies have a common ethos. It’s been rewarding to build this, and it has helped families.

Siegel was familiar with Amazon’s Home Entertainment Store, and so is used to handling large items such as TVs. He and his cofounders also learned from Amazon’s customer-service principles.

Siegel stated that while part of it was my presence, another part is the fact that you have seen similar principles in direct-to consumer companies. They are putting customer needs first, and working through word-of-mouth. It’s because this refrigerator is not something that can be returned late or replaced. “If there’s an industry that that matters it’s this.

Titan was fully launched in January 2020. It is now profitable, and the founders are yet to raise venture capital. If it allows them to scale up faster, or invest the money back in tech, they are open to this option. Titan’s growth has been 5x since last year. They have warehouses in Los Angeles and the Northeast to stock more inventory and meet shipping goals all across the country. Liz Siegel, Ginsburg and two additional employees handle most of the customer service and sales. This is done via online chats and phone calls to customers.

It is planned to increase customer service representatives and keep the bar high.

It’s an essential capability for the company. Siegel stated that it’s something you wouldn’t want to outsource. “A lot isn’t in technology. It’s in Scott and Liz’s product knowledge and Liz’s customer service.

With her experience in retail, Liz Siegel literally has gone from the crib to the grave. She was a lawyer before having three children with her husband. She also owned her baby products business.

RELATED: Recompose in Seattle is now raising money for human composting startups.

She said that it was a good way to get a taste of retail and to see what the process is like, especially with Amazon, building websites, and so forth. I kept the baby stuff going for awhile, but then Titan took off and Seattle was all about the babies.

Titan can ship to funeral homes and customers are able to bring in their own casket because of a federal law called “the Funeral Rule,” enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. The law states that a funeral provider can refuse to accept a casket, urn, or other item you purchased online or at a local store — and you will have to pay a fee for it.

Liz Siegel stated, “In all fairness a lot funeral homes are wonderful and to work with.” We are open to working closely with funeral homes, even though there may be some bad actors.

Publiated at Tue 10 August 2021, 14:38:18 (+0000).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.