Turning Ashes Into Diamonds with Eterneva CEO Adelle Archer
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Before launching major products with partners like Amazon, Ebay, Square, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, Adelle Archer graduated #1 in her MBA class at the Acton School of Business, considered the ‘navy seal’ program for entrepreneurs. Then, her friend and mentor, Tracey, died. Grief-stricken, Adelle needed a mission-driven way to honor loved ones. When one did not exist, she used her skills to transform an industry, becoming the Co-Founder and CEO of Eterneva, a company that creates diamonds from the ashes of loved ones and pets. Hear her incredible story by clicking here and read below for full show notes, including regarding Eterneva’s complimentary gift for the Spread Your Sunshine community.
The MBA “Navy Seal” Program for Entrepreneurs
After working in politics for a few years upon graduating college, Adelle realized that her passion lay in a more meaningful career. Upon meeting the Founder of the MBA Program for Entrepreneurship at the Acton School of Business, she knew the Program was the perfect building block.
Although many entrepreneurs and podcasters question whether an MBA is helpful when launching a business, Adelle found immense value in Acton’s program, as from day one, students learned by doing. Acton’s program included deep dives into case studies, rebuilding business models from scratch, and working 100-hour weeks designed to help students understand the hard work that must be invested in building a business from the ground up. Particularly important to Adelle and the future Etervena, students also completed a class focused on defining a well-lived life to help them identify their “mission-critical” priorities and definition of success.
Having the Courage to Bet on Herself
To gain real-world business experience after graduating as the valedictorian of her MBA class, Adelle, in part, applied for a job in product marketing despite that the job was advertised as requiring years of experience that she did not have. Believing the role was the right “next step” in her journey, Adelle was ready to thoughtfully answer why she was the company’s best hire despite her minimal experience. Her tenacity paid off. The company created a special position for Adelle, showing that when you dare to dream big and invest the hard work in making your dream a reality, the bet on yourself pays off.
Through this job, and others, Adelle’s business acumen grew, boosting her self-confidence. Although there was a tremendous learning curve associated with each role she assumed, she thrived. These experiences taught her that even when she did not have all the answers, she could figure it out through hard work, dedication, and mentors, the latter being a positive force throughout her career, advocating for her and helping her advance.
Co-Founding Eterneva in Honor of Tracey
Devastatingly, one of Adelle’s dear friends and mentors, Tracey, was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and at 47-years-old, given only three months to live. As a guardian of Tracey’s ashes, Adelle researched ways to memorialize Tracey’s remarkable life and tremendous impact on her own. Disappointingly, the memorial options for ashes were underwhelming.
Around the same time, Adelle learned that diamonds could be lab-grown using the carbon in cremated remains. After significant research and additional serendipitous signs, Adelle knew that she was destined to honor Tracey by co-founding a mission-driven company that ensures the legacies of loved ones live on. Thus, in partnership with co-founder Garrett Ozar, Eterneva was born.
Building a Business While Working for a Business
When Eterneva was founded, Adelle and Garrett both worked full-time and had a real estate side hustle, making Eterneva their “third job.” Although exhausting, like many entrepreneurs, before walking away from their steady paychecks, they wanted to ensure Eterneva had a good product-market fit, evaluate the competition, and create a structured business model. As a part of this process, a website was created, supply chain established, and testing undertaken.
Adelle’s courage to invest in her dreams again paid off – the market’s positive reaction to Eterneva was immediate. It was not long until Adelle and Garrett realized Eterneva was their new full-time job.
Bootstrapping Funding & Partnering with a Shark
Initially, Eterneva was “fully bootstrapped,” meaning the business was established with Adelle’s and Garrett’s personal resources with no outside help. Through grit and determination, they exceeded a million dollars in sales.
To take Eterneva to the next level, the company next raised funds through a strategic angel round of investment, meaning Adelle and Garrett sought a capital infusion from friends, family, and other small businesses and entrepreneurs, specifically in the technology and consumer business spaces. Through such funding, Eterneva expanded to the point of needing outside investment. It then turned to Shark Tank.
Appearing on Season 11, Episode 3, Eterneva was valued at $8 million, one of the highest valuations in Shark Tank history, especially incredible given that it was the first deathcare company to appear on the program. After tough negotiations with three of the Sharks, Eterneva received a $600,000 investment from Mark Cuban in exchange for a 9% stake in the company.
Making a Diamond from Ashes
With Shark Tank’s investment, Eterneva could continue expanding its efforts to grow diamonds from ashes, an intricate process that takes seven to ten months and involves seven different stages. During the time that a loved one’s ashes are with Eterneva, the company is transparent with the customer about all stages of the process. In this way, the customer is an active part of the journey and experience, including having the option to laser a name or personal inscription on the diamond, choosing the color and shape of the diamond, selecting the diamond’s setting, and making other decisions to ensure the end-product is a meaningful keepsake of the loved one and heirloom that can be passed down for generations.
“This Too Shall Pass”
Adelle reflected on her entrepreneurial journey by noting that when she is struggling, she evaluates whether to quit and move on to something new or stick it out because things will get better, reminding herself that “this too shall pass.” Involved in this analysis is an awareness that she must not be afraid to surrender herself to grace. Sometimes you have to let go and see where the path takes you instead of fighting every inch of the way.
Adelle’s Advice for Creating Immediate Positive Change
With the forgoing thoughts in mind, Adelle offered the following advice for creating immediate positive change to build your confidence, believe in your dreams, and shine your brightest:
- Become an Expert
Learn the skills you need to succeed in your desired industry. Seek mentorship from people in the industry, listen to podcasts, enroll in classes or a program, or take the other steps necessary to become an expert in your field.
- Know Your Values
Determine your core values and what is most important to you to ensure that your personal and professional goals are aligned with your definition of success for your life.
- Always Have a Mentor
And, don’t just have one mentor, have several. Adelle’s mentors inspired her company, helped her get jobs, taught her leadership skills, and so much more. They are a big reason she is the successful businesswoman that she is today. Additionally, mentors can help you ensure you have all of the resources needed to successfully operate your business, from IT specialists, to website designers, to social media managers, and even a commercial electrician.
- Bet on Yourself
When your instinct tells you that *you* are your best bet, believe in yourself and go for it, including having the courage to ask for what you want and go for it. The worst that can happen is hearing “no,” which is far better than not pursuing your dreams. You will never get anywhere if you don’t have the courage to start.
Complimentary Gift for the Spread Your Sunshine Community
To further introduce Spread Your Sunshine listeners to Eterneva, the company is excited to offer our community a *complimentary* Welcome Kit (normally a $100 deposit). The Welcome Kit explains the diamond growing process, shows the carat sizes available, and includes a container for your loved one's ashes or hair. If you follow through with the process, Eterneva’s diamonds start around $3,000, for which financing is available. To receive your *complimentary Welcome Kit, enter the promo code SPREADYOURSUNSHINE at checkout.
Full Show Materials
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