It’s never easy to lose a loved one. Add in the complicated process of planning a funeral, and the exorbitant costs that can climb into the thousands, and a difficult time can quickly become overwhelming.

After more than 16 years in the funeral industry, Nathan Romagnoli knew that there had to be a better way. His own experiences with family loss showed him that the way we observe the passing of loved ones can have a lasting impact on those who go on living, and that there was a need for a more “life-centred” approach to funeral services.

With this philosophy in mind, Nathan started eco Cremation & Burial Services, a company that offers one-of-a-kind funeral services that are affordable and environmentally friendly. In fact, eco is Ontario’s only fully licensed funeral provider with a focus on ecologically sustainable funeral options.

Their company motto is “Life celebrations. Done differently,” and that ethos is clear in everything that they do. They have revamped the standard funeral home business model by renting venues as needed and using technology to increase efficiency and reduce costs. They also offer a variety of facility options for a truly custom experience, from churches and community halls to parks, beaches, and even museums.

Lastly, the company works closely with local, independent vendors to support its community and lessen their impact on the environment. For example, its eco Reforestation Program plants a tree on a client’s behalf when they purchase a casket that was harvested from Ontario woodlands and made by an independent Ontario manufacturer.

From their simple three-step planning process to the wide range of services they offer, eco is a game changer in its industry and a top choice for families who are looking for a more socially responsible approach. However, starting a company with such a unique mandate in a field with long-established customs and traditions was a challenge.

“The funeral industry is notoriously stale,” says Nathan, and as a result, he says the company encountered resistance from many suppliers who didn’t want to work with them. “Without Futurpreneur’s assistance, financial assistance may also have not been possible,” says Nathan. “We are very grateful for the assistance provided during our start-up.”

In addition to financial support, Nathan cites Futurpreneur’s mentorship program as a key factor in helping his company get off the ground. “Futurpreneur has provided the key to open the doors to an actual start-up for eco, and the reason that we’ve been able to thrive,” says Nathan.

Now in its second year, eco has more than tripled in growth and looks forward to continuing to expand. And for those who might see his success and wish to start a business of their own, Nathan’s first piece of advice is to surround yourself with positive and like-minded people.

“Tough days can be very lonely for a single entrepreneur so support is key. Ensuring that friends, families, and relationship partners understand your commitment is also key to success,” he shares.

His second piece of advice? Find an amazing mentor.

“Entrepreneurs don’t have all the answers, so learning and growing is a constant and Futurpreneur’s support is invaluable to me,” say Nathan. “Knowing I can reach out to them at any time for even the strangest of questions is a wonderful feeling.”

Written by: Jasmine Williams, Social Media and Content Specialist, Futurpreneur Canada