On the 21st of November, PastBook travelled to Paris, for the three-day “Funeral Paris Exhibition 2013” (Funeraire Paris 2013), as part of the exhibitor conglomerate. It was the first Fair in the sector that PastBook had taken part in and the experience was amazing and extremely informative. During our stay the main players of the industry expressed their interest in our idea and supplied us with lots of great feedback. Here’s what happened and why we were there.
It’s not the place where you would expect us to attend, but it was the ideal space and a great opportunity to launch and propose to the main companies in this business our new project, the “In Memoriam” books, a vertical proposition of our collaborative book platform. The project is structured upon the idea of how to honor the remembrance of a beloved lost one, through a photo tribute that will unite friends and relatives. It becomes the ideal way to collect all the great moments they had had with their lost one in a noble and respectful way, on-line as a never ending story and printed as a keepsake memoriam photo album.
After two intense weeks of preparations, Stefano and Valentina, arrived in the city of Paris, with their backpacks carrying two heavy pieces of luggage containing all the necessary equipment for the presentation of the “In Memoriam” books.
After arriving at the Exhibition, Stefano and Valentina, settled down at the stand A43. “It only took some minutes before people started visiting our stand and chatting with us about our project. We had the chance to engage in conversation with some of the best funeral directors of the field from across the globe; USA, England, Italy, Russia, and Australia are only some of the countries where the visitors were coming from. The most fascinating part for us, was the fact that we could see directly the reactions of the people and receive some great and positive feedback. People got our uniqueness value immediately!”, Valentina exclaimed.
Innovating the funeral business
“We are glad to have been picked by journalist as the most innovative company of the Fair” Stefano adds excitedly. “Innovation!” that was the word we got to hear by most of the people that visited us during those three days. Some of them said: “Finally we found a really innovative idea! The funeral business field is really conservative – especially in some countries. It’s not always easy to enter the market. You don’t need to be a visionary to understand that this is the future: now!”
“Everyday was a different day for us. As a lean startup, we used A/B testing even off-line, trying different layouts of our stand so that we could convey our idea to visitors with different cultural backgrounds. Our stand was entirely branded in an English copy: the roll-ups, our website and the mock-ups, everything! On day 1 almost all of our visitors were coming from abroad. To attract more French visitors we worked at night to prepare a French version of our landing page to show on our monitors. It worked: from day 2 we managed to increase our conversion on French companies and visitors!”
Much to our surprise, after visiting the rest of the stands, we noticed that amongst the traditional products, that mainly consisted of urns, tombs, coffins and analog guest books, there were only a few other tech companies offering either ERP software (desktop programs that handle the administration and paperwork for a company) or QR code that links a grave to an on-line, 90s style, fixed home page.
In short, the general feeling we got from our conversations with the funeral directors and the journalists is that the funeral industry is one closely intertwined with the notion of tradition. Nevertheless, professionalism, gravity and respect for the grieving family, are the main factors that will allow a service for a fruitful contribution to the process of bereavement.
Digital memories, finite treasure
Our proposition is highly inspired by the way we are nowadays connected through the various social networking platforms. The rate at which we capture photos with our smartphones and post them on our social media channels is such that it is hard to catch up with, or store, every photo we’ve taken.
Stefano explains his idea behind the development of the “In Memoriam” books: “If I got hit by a truck today, everything about me will get lost: my iPhoto library and my Mac will be inaccessible, the photos stored on my iphone, and all the ones in the cloud will just disappear; neither my family nor anyone else will be able to look back to them to remember me.”
And he continues: “All my friends that have taken photos with me and with whom I have shared mine will now more have the possibility to see them again, by simply contributing to my memoriam story. And I can also arrange my own story now, in life, before it’s too late.”
One of our users told us: “We don’t really treasure these things so much until they suddenly become very finite!“. This sentence pretty much says it all.
Generations keep changing and new behaviors in terms of how people cope with the grieving process appear. If you look at the Facebook profile page of someone deceased, you’ll notice that it’s flooded by heart-warming notes and farewell messages from friends and relatives. These accounts can be memorialized by Facebook, which means that the entire Facebook profile cannot be modified anymore. Hence the parents (or whoever reported the death certificate to Facebook) are the only ones who have access to the profile without however being able to add any content or edit it. In most of the occasions a friend creates a Facebook page as an online tribute for the loved lost one. Nevertheless even in this case all this content remains in the Facebook servers, and in order for someone to be able to see or interact with it, he or she needs to be registered in Facebook. What is more, after a while it gets even harder to “scroll down” to relive all these shared moments.
PastBook understands the tradition with which the funeral homes operate and shows respect to the deceased and their families. Our mission is to offer an online platform that will allow the friends and family to create a meaningful tribute to cherish the one they lost, in a way that will allow for easy access everywhere, with full control and ownership of the content by the user as well as provide the possibility to transfer all this content offline, in a PDF or in a printed “In Memoriam” book, to save forever.
Try it here: http://memoriam.pastbook.com
Partnership opportunities for funeral companies
Our proposition to the funeral companies is to partner up with them in the form of a win-to-win collaboration thanks to their expertise of the market and our deep know-how in tech and new media.
We can provide our platform in white label allowing funeral companies to provide the same service from their domain, in their language and with their corporate identity to their existing and new customers. It’s an easy and smart way for them to engage with their customers, let them come back more often to their website and virally spread their brand around.
The Exhibition definitely validated our new direction and proposition and gave us the chance to expand in Europe and US.