Sports fans know Mark Cuban as the brash, aggressive owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. Television aficionados recognize him as the innovative entrepreneur who oversees ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
But before too long, many more may come to know Cuban as something else, entirely:
The man who helped turn their loved one’s ashes into diamonds. Yes, you read that right.
Those of you familiar with the Zillion blog know that we never turn down an opportunity to celebrate the all-around brilliance of diamonds. But even we have to admit we’ve never heard of something involving the world’s most beloved gemstones and…the remains of the dearly departed (though we are familiar with the practice of wearing a locket or other piece of jewelry with a sprinkling of a loved one’s ashes inside).
There’s a first time for everything, we suppose. We’re definitely curious to see how this all plays out in the years to come.
The progenitor and pioneer of this unique “end-of-life space” movement, the one backed by Cuban and overseen by co-founder and CEO Adelle Archer, is Austin, TX-based Eterneva, which claims to have realized triple-digit sales growth since its inception just four years ago. In 2020, Eterneva managed to more than double its revenue, and the company recently closed out a $10-million series A funding round led by Cuban, Tiger Management, Goodwater Capital, Capstar Ventures and NextCoast Ventures.
Prior to the Series A funding success, Eterneva had reportedly raised around $5.7 million overall, including $3 million in seed-round financing led by Austin-based Springdale Ventures. Cuban himself had become an initial investor in the company after Archer and co-founder Garrett Ozar appeared on “Shark Tank” in 2019 — taking a 9% stake in Eterneva in exchange for a $600,000 investment.
From the Ashes of Grief…
A recent story from TechCrunch regarding the funding round also shed some light on the moving origins of Eterneva. Early in 2017, Archer and Garrett Ozar, who were previously colleagues at BigCommerce, officially launched the company in Austin. Archer’s close friend and mentor, Tracey Kaufman, had passed away from pancreatic cancer at the young age of 47. Kaufman had requested that her cremated ashes be divided up between her aunt, her best friend, and Archer.
Archer just so happened to also be working closely with a lab-grown diamond startup, and one of the diamond scientists told her there’s carbon in ashes — meaning the carbon could be extracted from Kaufman’s ashes and made into a synthetic diamond. Archer said she knew right away that this was the perfect way to honor, memorialize and preserve the ashes of Kaufman, who she called “remarkable,” “amazing,” and “a vibrant person.”
Providing “Brightness and Healing”
Since first working to transform Kaufman’s ashes into something more brilliant, Eterneva has created close to 1,500 diamonds for more than 1,000 grieving customers, allowing them to experience what Archer calls “brightness and healing and a beautiful way to honor their loved ones.”
The ashes-to-diamonds process starts at $2,999, and rises based on the specified size and color. In addition to colorless diamonds, other shades such as black, yellow, blue, orange, and green can also be selected. The TechCrunch story states that nearly 40% of Eterneva’s business so far has involved the ashes of…beloved and departed pets. In addition to ashes, Eterneva can also convert strands of hair into synthetic diamonds.
The process also takes from seven to nine months, and Eterneva makes sure to serve as a trusted partner with the customer along the way, sharing videos and pictures documenting the detailed and painstaking process at various steps of the journey. Much of the newly raised capital will be used to scale the company’s funeral home channel program, as well as enable even deeper customer participation in the process — including more personalized, custom design options. Archer told TechCrunch:
“People want personalization and meaning. We plan to evolve the platform with different products and services down the road.”
Mark Cuban himself added:
“Eterneva takes a very emotional and difficult [time] and helps people walk through their journey in a trusted way that I don’t think anyone else can come close to.”
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