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Human composting startup Recompose launches crowdfunding campaign to raise $5M

Geekwire 3/22/2023 Kurt Schlosser
A dummy is shown in a cradle with plant material in front of a Recompose vessel. (Recompose Photo) © Provided by Geekwire A dummy is shown in a cradle with plant material in front of a Recompose vessel. (Recompose Photo)

Recompose, the Seattle-based funeral services startup that specializes in human composting, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $5 million.

The regulation crowdfunding round is being facilitated by Wefunder and is available to unaccredited investors at a $1,000 minimum. The campaign has raised $343,000 as of Wednesday morning.

Founded by CEO Katrina Spade in 2017 as a greener alternative to conventional burial and cremation methods, Recompose is among a wave of “death tech” startups using innovative practices to upend the $20 billion funeral industry.

Recompose previously raised $17 million without using venture capital. Investors have included supporters of the company, investment groups, donor-advised funds, family foundations, and clients of financial advisors.

Katrina Spade, founder and CEO of Recompose. (Recompose Photo) © Provided by Geekwire Katrina Spade, founder and CEO of Recompose. (Recompose Photo)

“All of our investors are impact driven and appreciate being invested for the long term,” Spade told GeekWire. “Our team is growing Recompose with intention, care, and ambition.”

She said that the plan has always been to offer the opportunity to invest in the company at a low minimum.

Recompose’s process involves placing a human body in a receptacle with organic matter that includes straw, wood chips and alfalfa. Microbes naturally break everything down into soil in about eight to 12 weeks, and the soil is returned to loved ones, similar to ashes after cremation, for use in a garden or elsewhere.

Funding rounds of $6.75 million in September 2020 and $10 million in December 2022 allowed Recompose to open and operate its first small facility in Kent, Wash. The company now has a full-service facility just south of downtown Seattle.

Recompose generated $1.6 million in revenue in its first two years of operations and is projecting $1.48 million this year, according to financial details shared on Wefunder.

Spade said Recompose has helped more than 250 families transform their loved ones into soil, saving over 200 metric tons of carbon. Another 1,300 “Precompose” members are paying in advance for future human composting services.

The process costs $7,000, with additional fees for add-on services.

Washington was the first state in the U.S. to legalize human composting when Gov. Jay Inslee signed it into law in May 2019, and others have followed, including Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, California and New York.

“The legalization of human composting in six states speaks to the real momentum that’s happening across the country,” Spade said.

Recompose employs 18 people. Cash from the crowdfunding campaign will support the development, operations, and expansion of the company.

An increasing number of Pacific Northwest startups are using technology and innovation to bring change to the funeral industry:

  • Portland-based Solace is bringing digital convenience to the process of planning and facilitating cremation services.
  • A team from the University of Washington called AfterLife Listings recently won the $25,000 grand prize in a student startup competition for its idea to simplify planning and transactions related to burial plots.
  • Direct-to-consumer casket startup Titan Casket raised $3.5 million last year to boost its product line and shipping speeds.
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