Eco-friendly coffin start-up secures £50,000 Arts Council grant
The Last Wish Company secures funding following participation in ‘Spark Up’ accelerator
A start-up that plans to produce eco-friendly designer coffins has raised £50,000 from the Arts Council England North West organisation, following its participation in Liverpool-based accelerator programme Spark Up.
Founded by Gina Czarnecki, The Last Wish Company will produce recycled and biodegradable ‘end of life pods’, representing an environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional coffins.
Czarnecki said the funding would be used to produce 10 prototype coffins, which will be exhibited as artworks before being sold.
Launched in early 2014, the four-month Spark Up programme aims to boost the growth of start-ups in the North West region by providing them with office space, support and mentoring, and the investment into The Last Wish Company represents the first major funding into an entrepreneur supported by the accelerator.
The accelerator programme is supported by a range of organisations based in the region, including Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, Natwest and PR firm The BIG Partnership.
Its stated aim is to create 500 ‘super businesses’ in the region over five years, by putting start-ups through a boot camp-style process which is modelled on the MassChallenge accelerator in Boston, USA.
The Last Wish Company founder Gina Czarnecki said: “There was a gap in the market for customisable, eco-friendly coffins and I found more and more people telling me that it was a great idea and that they wanted one too.
“I just came into Spark Up with an idea rather than a business – Spark Up has already helped me to refine the concept and be able to communicate it clearly. I’ve received sound advice on core business areas such as finance, law and marketing.
“My idea was quite complex and the programme has helped me to formulate a proper business plan – I feel totally supported and am learning all the time. I am excited to see what happens over the next few months, not just for my business but for the other start-ups on the programme too.”
Dr Nick Owen MBE, director of the Spark Up programme, added: “The first month has been a great success. All the participants are completely on board and are committed to their businesses and the process.
“The progress made by some of the entrepreneurs has been fantastic and completely well-deserved. Who knows what else we can achieve in the next four months but we’re certainly looking forward to it.”