Sage & Grace: Michigan Business Challenge – Impact Track Finalist Team

Who are the team members?

Holly Price (MBA ’17) @sageandgrace

How did you decide your team name?

With an industry like the funeral industry, I felt it was important to have a name that did not directly trigger the negative feelings of death and dying. I have found that many of the people who plan funerals are strong women in the family and so I was comfortable with a name that sounded a little bit feminine. Sage is an herb that has traditionally represented healing and purification. Grace is for the Christian ideal of redemption being extended to all.

Tell us briefly about your business idea.

The idea of Sage & Grace was born from my own personal research about the death and dying process. When I have lost people close to me, I grieved hard. I set out to tackle my fear of death like I tackle other challenges in my life: by reading. The more I read about the funeral industry, the more I questioned the standard, predatory practices. I also read about niche businesses that address pain points, but are not reaching a broad audience, especially those that reduce the negative environmental impact of traditional funerals.

Sage & Grace is a website and concierge service that seeks to educate consumers who need to quickly understand their options for funeral planning. Hopefully, in the process, we can save them time, money, and help them focus on grieving more effectively.

How has the MBC experience helped transform your approach to business strategy?

My approach to business strategy is bolder and more tactical because of MBC. The entrepreneurs-in-residence at ZLI and the judges from MBC have pushed me to consider a bolder vision and not sell myself short. This has been easily one of the best learning experiences of my MBA program.

What do you think will be the long-term impact of the implementation of this idea?

Western culture needs to do a much better job preparing for the inevitability of death. Avoiding it until it is staring us in the face leads to all sorts of other problems. I believe Sage & Grace has the ability to help expand an emerging movement of “Death Positivity” and help people across the country honor their loved ones in a way that more effectively uses limited resources.

What been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

My least favorite part of the competition is pitching in Round 1 when you have three minutes to tell you story and no slides to back you up. But, I learned so much from the teams who did really well during Round 1 in terms of how they pitched and how much preparation they put into pitching. It changed how I think about telling my story. My favorite part of MBC is getting questions from the judges–their questions and reactions are quite valuable, even though they usually start with a long pause and say, “Well….I don’t know much about the funeral industry, but have you thought about…”

If you win, what will you do immediately following the competition?

Hire a developer! I need outside help, especially for front end development, and any prize money will go directly to hiring someone to moving closer to launch!

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

The biggest part of the mission of Sage & Grace is to help people who need to plan a funeral and who are most likely grieving heavily understand their options and the process. The best way to avoid getting taken advantage of is to do your homework ahead of time. There is never an easy time to sit down and talk to a loved one about death but it is invaluable to do so before it is too late. I am a huge proponent of organ donations and green funerals, happy to chat with anyone who wants to learn more.

Join us on Feb. 17 to watch this team compete for the $15K grand prize in the Impact Track Finals!

Read more about the other finalist teams: AIM Tech | Find Your Ditto | Kladder