Meet Shruti Reddy, 31-year-old software engineer-turned- ‘funeral planner’.
Shruthi is the founder of ANTHYESTI a professional funeral services startup.
The only woman in Kolkata (probably in the country too) to operate a one-point service provider for all your funeral needs.
A tagline that hasn’t gone down well with her parents who remind her on a daily basis that it’s still not too late to return to her old career.
But Shruti remains unflappable. She sees before her an untapped market!
Through Anthyesti, Shruti promises to make funeral planning hassle-free, convenient, affordable and very professional.
It provides a single point booking facility for all kinds of funeral related services such as providing certified community-specific priest (Bengali, Marwari, Hindustani, Punjabi, AryaSamaji, Bihari, Gujarati, and Sindhi), who can perform Shraadh pujas; booking hearse vans and mobile freezer boxes; booking mortuary space and “funeral helpers” who will coordinate the cremation ceremony at crematoriums, keep customers informed about the queue, and assist them with other arrangements and even organise catering for “special funeral food”.
“Instead of mourning the loss of their loved one, I have seen family members running around trying to make all the funeral arrangements themselves,” says Shruti. “On top of this, some vendors quote exorbitant rates which are often not negotiated by the grieving parties.” She should know. She experienced it first -hand when her husband’s grandfather passed away 3 years ago. The idea for a professional funeral service also germinated in her back then.
But it was soon forgotten because her life was going on an even keel. However, things changed when she was transferred to Hyderabad. She quit her job. Picked up the long forgotten business idea, dusted it and began giving shape to it .
As a novice, Shruti began her entrepreurial journey by calling up Just Dial.
She got a list of various people or agencies providing funeral services and cold-called them. They perceived her as a threat to their business and refused to help.
So she did the next best thing to get started – she waited outside crematoriums, for hours together, to meet the hearse drivers and urge them to come work for her – “organised employment,” she said. And they did. Soon things began to fall in place and she opened shop with an initial investment of 2 lakhs.
The 3-week old company has already conducted 27 services. Including inter-city and international repatriations.
She plans to begin operations in other cities by the end of this year. She will also be expanding the services provided to include pinddhan ceremonies in Varanasi etc.
Future plans include “pre-planning funeral services” wherein a client can book in advance for their funeral to be organised by Anthyesti when the time comes.
Shruthi is the only woman in this male-dominated sector. And it hasn’t been easy till now.
The first reaction of most people is one of shock when they hear about the nature of her business, she says. Though her husband is supportive her parents and the rest of her family are not happy with her choice of career. “This will bring bad luck to the family,” they often tell her.
It is also more challenging for her as a woman entrepreneur who’s not a local resident to venture into this space.
Her biggest challenge has been to deal with goons in the business. She often gets threatening calls asking her to quit the business. But she’s learnt to handle them too.
“I believe I am doing something good and this is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” she says.
She ain’t quitting anytime soon. After all ‘death’ is an undying market!
ANTHYESTI services can currently be booked via 98333-18181and on their website www.anthyesti.com