Death is grim business, but Shruthi Reddy Sethi, a young, enthusiastic software engineer in Kolkata has made it as her profession as Funeral service Undertaker to make it easier for those left behind. With her uniquely focused Funeral service Undertaker, in just over a year, her company Anthyesti has notched up a turnover of Rs 16 lakh. Yes, that’s right, Shruthi Reddy Sethi, 32, is a funeral services planner and Funeral service Undertaker – officially the first such company in this sector in Kolkata.
Her company – Anthyesti -Funeral service Undertaker offers well-organized and efficient post-demise packages such as VIP hearse services, mobile freezer or embalming, repatriation of remains, and Shraadhs (a ritual to pay homage to the deceased in the family) for communities such as the Arya Samaj, Gujaratis, Marwaris, and Bengalis. Funeral service Undertaker range from Rs 2,500 to Rs one lakh.
Shruthi had moved to Kolkata in 2015 to be with her husband who had shifted there with his job. Originally from Hyderabad, where she completed all her education, she was the older of the two siblings, with a brother.
Her father worked as an electrical engineer in Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), while her mother sold saris from the home to supplement the family’s income. Shruthi studied in Sai Public School till Class 10, after which she joined Little Flower Junior College in 2002.
By 2006 she had completed a degree in engineering from Bhoj Reddy Engineering College and she left her hometown. “I joined an IT company in Bengaluru as a junior programmer,” she says, “and moved back to Hyderabad with another IT job in 2011.”
In 2009, she got married to Gurvinder Singh Sethi who worked in Tata Motors in Hyderabad. “Life was moving smoothly till my husband was transferred to Kolkata in 2011,” says Shruthi. Her employers let her work from home at first, but in 2015 when they asked her to move back to Hyderabad, she resigned.
“The concept of a funeral service start-up was subconsciously in my mind,” she recalls, “as I saw my husband facing a lot of problems at the death of his maternal grandfather in 2014 – making all the arrangements for cremation and prayers meant that he didn’t have time to grieve with his family.”
So that’s how she started setting up a company geared to efficiently and sensitively taking care of every aspect relating to the processes and ceremonies following a death, starting from embalming human remains to the conclusion of all rituals.
“I built contacts with hearse van drivers and priests to be paid on a case-to-case basis,” she explains. “We got enlisted on Justdial in April 2015, from where I started getting calls for funeral services.”
But people normally called for the hearse van and not for cremation or performance of last rites. Shruthi found a solution and purchased two freezer boxes in June 2016 and an air-conditioned hearse van with an investment of around Rs seven lakh.
Now, bookings for Anthyesti’s can be made on the phone or online. The company now has six employees, receives around 35 orders every month, and its turnover has touched Rs 16 lakh in just over a year.
Anthyesti is filling a much-felt gap. “Death is a crucial part of life and it needs to be served with professionalism, poise and dignity,” says Shruthi. “Staying calm, sensitive and empathetic is what I and my team focus on.”
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