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Ex Co-op Executives invest close to £500K in new death tech start up, Guardian Angel

(L-R) Alistair Asher, Rod Bulmer, Sam Grice and Andrew Weisz

Northern-based ‘death tech’ start up Guardian Angel, which is a free and private online platform that simplifies the bereavement process; connecting families, friends and funeral directors together, has closed its pre-seed round raising £492K and with it welcomes two former Co-op executives to its strategy team.

Thanks to this significant new investment Guardian Angel, founded by former financial professional Sam Grice, is one step closer to easing the stressful bereavement process for families following the death of a loved one.

The secure platform aims to reduce the stress in the immediate aftermath of a loved one’s death by enabling you to coordinate support from family and friends. There is a ‘Key times’ function which informs people when they can visit and when you and your family would like to be alone. Its ‘To-Do list’ allows you to manage all tasks and ask friends for help. You can share funeral information privately and it also staggers support, like flower deliveries, so they do not all arrive at once.

Guardian Angel was conceived in 2017 following the unexpected death of founder Sam Grice’s mother in a road accident.  Having been personally exposed to the end of life industry, the lack of digital efficiency became evident as he and his family struggled to coordinate the tasks and sudden influx of communications.

Sam Grice, Guardian Angel founder said: “The support we received from well-meaning family and friends after mum’s accident was amazing. However, managing that support together with organising a funeral and wake, something I had never done before, proved immensely difficult during one of the most stressful periods of my life. And I’m not alone. Most of us have or will experience the death of a loved one and face the same issues that I did.

“The funeral sector has been slow to modernise and digitise its services but we are talking to funeral directors on a daily basis about the benefits of creating a Guardian Angel support hub for their clients, as we believe technology can really help in the bereavement process.”

Guardian Angel aims to use this investment to improve its current digital platform and to develop a tool to make the process of planning for the inevitable easier.

As part of the raise, two members of the NorthInvest Angel network, Rod Bulmer and Alistair Asher, agreed to come on board as financial and as strategic advisors. Between them, they have contributed a six-figure investment.

Rod Bulmer had executive responsibility for Co-op Funeralcare and Co-op Life Planning from 2014 to 2016.  Prior to that, Rod was Deputy CEO, Coop Bank.

Alistair Asher is also a former Co-op executive, with roles including General Council, NED Co-op Insurance and Non-Executive Chairman Co-op Legal Services. 

Professor Adam Beaumont, Founder of NorthInvest commented: ‘NorthInvest has attracted investment to several scalable platforms which address challenges or opportunities on a global scale.  Guardian Angel is one of such platforms and we’ll watch with interest – I believe their empathic approach to help deal with difficult issues in an efficient way can not only be a successful start up but make a positive impact to many.’

Helen Oldham, founder, and board director at NorthInvest said: ‘NorthInvest are delighted to have supported Guardian Angel. Their larger aims are to make things like funeral plans and life insurance easier to assemble and more transparent. This has the potential to make a positive difference in an area which affects everyone.’

Guardian Angel has also attracted ex-Goldman Sachs MD Andrew Weisz who will act as Financial Director going forward.

The investment opportunity excited Bulmer for multiple reasons, he said: “Like many professional services the funeral and end-of-life planning industries are only now starting to go through significant digital change. There is a real opportunity for an independent platform to help families through this process and provide a vehicle to promote active communities discussing the subjects around death openly and honestly. To this point I don’t think there is anything in the market that is truly independent or that has been executed correctly. This is a real opportunity for Guardian Angel, which has an ethos focussed on support”

Full Circle Funerals owner and director, Sarah Jones, was impressed by the project and made the initial connection to the NorthInvest Angels.  She said, “The funeral sector has been very slow to embrace the digital age and Guardian Angel are actively trying to address this so that bereaved people can also benefit from technology”.

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Philip Ghayour
Events, PR, and Marketing Manager at The Samuel James Group, Philip has a degree in Journalism from the University of Salford and holds an MSc in Marketing from Lancaster University, Philip has also worked at BBC Radio Lancashire, Clitheroe Football Club and Accrington Stanley Football Club.