• Fenix disrupts the funeral industry – with an innovative system

    Fenix begravningar i mobilen

    Fenix begravning wants to disrupt a million euro industry – and predicts that undertakers will go through a digital transformation. Recently, the funeral start-up raised around 700,00 euro in venture capital, money that’s being invested in an innovative platform and an international launch.

    “In 20 years, I think 80 per cent of all people will plan funerals online. It’s a natural development. If you consider how quickly other sectors have been digitalized I find it hard to believe that we wouldn’t see the same thing happening in the funeral industry.”

    The words are Johannes Ekblad’s, entrepreneur and co-founder of Fenix begravning. The company was founded in 2014 and has grown steadily, reaching a revenue of 2.3 million euro in 2019. And there is plenty of room to grow more: the funeral industry is worth over 200 million euro in Sweden alone. On top of that Fenix is now entering the business of family law, helping clients write their wills and other legal services.

    “Death is the core of our business, and that includes everything that needs to be done before and after someone passes away”, Johannes says.

    Makes planning smoother

    Fenix begravningar was founded in 2014 by three management consultants. All three founders had come up with the same idea and had mulled it over for several years. They saw that the funeral industry was lagging behind in digitalization. Prices were high, and companies lacked in both transparency and customer focus.

    As an answer, they launched a digital undertaker where customers can book everything online, either on their or in a phone call with an advisor.

    The funeral itself is done the traditional way, it’s only the preparations that set Fenix apart.  A traditional undertaker wants to meet clients in a physical meeting, while Fenix allows clients to make selections online in the peace of their own homes. 

    Approximately 10 percent of the clients want to meet someone before the funeral. This group is introduced to one of the funeral advisors that Fenix works with on a freelance basis.

    “We don’t consider ourselves to be an online undertaker. What we offer is a smoother and simpler way of planning a funeral, with better service”, Johannes says.

    “Like the travel industry 20 years ago”

    Six years after Fenix was founded, the digital maturity is still low in the funeral industry. Johannes compares the current level of digitalization with where the travel industry was at 20 years ago. 

    “We are in an early stage of digitalization, my guess is that we have done around 15 percent of the journey. The product needs to evolve before the majority will opt for planning funerals online”, he says.

    Because of this, a good technical platform with a user-friendly interface is business critical to Fenix. Two years ago they started to develop their own platform from scratch together with their IT partner Indpro. After one year of work the platform was launched.

    In the new system the clients interact with a web based interface where they can book and plan a funeral. The information is sent through the system to Fenix’ advisors, who access the data in the internal part of the platform. The work flow is easy to overview, and accessible to employees as well as external advisors.

    The platform functions as a project management tool, CRM and e-commerce solution in one. It’s built with microservice architecture and is integrated with Fenix’ ERP Microsoft Business Central.

    Success factor to get everyone onboard

    Johannes is very satisfied with the result as well as the process of building the new platform. What, then, have been the success factors?

    “An important factor is that everyone in the team understands the long-term perspective of what we are trying to do. Another is that we created the design ourselves, including the CSS. The actual development was then done by our partner Indpro.”

    How come did you do the design yourselves?

    “It helps us communicate the requirements more clearly. In creating the design we are forced to think through how we want things to work.”

    So far, only Johannes and a designer have been involved in developing the platform from Fenix’ side. Now, Fenix is growing their team internally while still keeping their team of developers at Indpro.

    “I believe that a mix of consultants and employees is best in the long run. Being able to scale up and down quickly using external resources is an advantage.”

    Speed of innovation is crucial

    Fenix is not the only company on a mission to digitalize the funeral industry. There are other start-ups, and Johannes expects the traditional industry giants to start modernizing as well. 

    To be able to compete, Fenix has raised an additional 700,000 euro in venture capital. The money will be invested in an international launch, as well as in improving the platform. 

    Johannes is convinced that the technical platform will be vital for Fenix’ continued growth.

    “The ability to maintain a high speed of innovation and improvements is what will differentiate us on the market. The speed of innovation decides who wins.”

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