When you die, there are two traditional options for your remains.
But what if you had a third possibility, and it was to have your remains turned into a tree?
Yes, essentially you still have to be cremated for this option but your ashes are then placed in a biodegradable urn which is used to grow new life in the form of a tree.
The business behind this idea is Bios Urn.
We recently spoke to co-founder Roger Moline about the business and what it does.
The following transcript has been slightly edited for clarity and length.
Sarah Kimmorley: When did you found the company?
Roger Moline: The idea behind the Bios Urn came to my brother Gerard when he was a young child. He was planting vegetables and flowers in our garden with my grandmother, and she found a dead bird nearby. Instinctively, she picked up the bird, dug a small hole, and buried it with flower seeds on top.
This small act had a meaningful effect on Gerard, and it represented life coming full circle, and the cycle of life continuing through nature. He began thinking about this at that age, and in 1997 when he was finishing his studies many years later, devoted his final project to creating the Bios Urn he had envisioned for so many years.
In 2002 he produced the first functional and working Bios Urns, and in 2012 we put all other projects away and focused fully on the Bios Urn.
SK: Did you have funding to get the business started?
RM: We funded the entire project ourselves. We had a small loan from the bank, but for the most part it was completely funded by us. We worked almost 16 hours a day to create this company and bring this project and product to light. It wasn’t work for us, because we loved it.
For a while, it was a two-man team, we did everything from emails, to customer assistance, to packaging and shipping by ourselves. Luckily, we have grown and now we have six full time employees and two part time employees. We are feeling very lucky about this, and we only hope to expand, as our dreams of the future are big!
SK: Have you receive further investment?
RM: We have not received further investment. We have received some inquiries from investors, especially since we launched our new product, the Bios Incube. We are interested in pursuing further investment in the next year, so we can take the Bios Urn where we want to and truly make a difference.
SK: What is your revenue and sales to date? What is your biggest market?
RM: We have sold over 80,000 Bios Urns worldwide.
Our biggest market is the US, mainly due to its sheer size and population, followed by Mexico, Australia, and Canada.
SK: What is business like in Australia for you?
RM: We have a lot of requests from individuals in Australia. It has been wonderful! We recently established distribution in Australia, so we are now present in the country. We offer the Bios Urn in Australia and New Zealand.
SK: Do you have a typical customer?
RM: I don’t know if there is a specific type. I think the people who choose a Bios Urn tend to have similar views or beliefs about things. I think most people who are interested in Bios Urn are also interested in nature, the environment, ecology, life, animals, and who we are as humans in this world.
Everyone who wants to use a Bios Urn believes in leaving this world a little better than when we entered it, and that is something we resonate with as well.
I think age may not play as big of a role, as we meet people who are much older and love the idea of the Bios Urn, and plan to use one. I think it depends on whether you tend to be more traditional in your beliefs, or whether you are open to new innovation and products. Openness can be present at any age.
What I think is fascinating, is that we have young individuals, some as young as 14-18, who message us and tell us they want to use this, and how they can put it in their will! That to me is amazing, that young adults and teenagers are thinking consciously and positively about their own death, and realising they have a choice in the matter.
It´s great to present people with a choice, and allow them the freedom to choose what they want to do.
SK: Do you expect your product to have an impact on the business of death?
RM: I think that the current funeral industry can be very off-putting and provides a sterile experience for many individuals who desire a deeper connection to death, and something that provides more closure, understanding, and tolerance. Current funeral practices have not changed or evolved much, and as we grow and change as a society, it is natural that our customs and traditions must evolve as well.
We have over 60k likes on Facebook as well, and we have people telling us that want to use the Bios Urn and how excited they are. It’s incredible that an Urn, something that generally carries such a negative and often somber connotation, is being looked at in a positive and enthusiastic light. This makes us happy, and drives us forward.
SK: What is next for Bio Urns?
RM: Right now we are focusing on producing our latest product, the Bios Incube. We will be taking pre-orders on our website in the next month or so. After that, we will be focusing on opening up tree incubation centers in different areas of the world. We already have one in the works!
A lot of exciting changes and things are happening, and we can´t wait to see where it goes.
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