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Octopus Group moves into ‘death tech’ with Guardian Angel acquisition

Guardian Angel's Sam Grice

Octopus Group is moving into the ‘death tech’ market, with the acquisition of Manchester and London-based digital bereavement support startup Guardian Angel.

Guardian Angel founder Sam Grice, a former equity analyst, started the platform after losing his own mother in 2016, an event that led him to the conclusion that technology must be able to help make the ordeal of coping with the grief – and logistics – of losing a loved one more manageable.

Grice said of the experience: “Those events, sad as they are, inspired me to create Guardian Angel. Since then me and my formidable team have been on a mission to use technology and real-life experience to make sure death isn’t any tougher than it needs to be. Helping over 220,000 people, and their families in some of the toughest times of their lives.”

He added: “The death market is one of technology’s last frontiers. Losing a loved one is among the hardest things anyone goes through, and it should be spent processing grief – not buried in paperwork and admin.”

The app aims to take the “unnecessary stress” out of losing a loved one by offering “the first online consolidated death-planning tool,” covering everything from wills and life insurance to funeral planning and post-death support. It is supported by insurance and tech player Berkshire Hathaway’s GenRe and Covea Insurance.

Octopus Group, the tech unicorn which established its new Energy Technology Hub in Manchester in 2020 following the acquisition of Upside Energy, has not revealed the financial details of the acquisition. Guardian Angel has, however, previously raised £1.5m+ in funding, including almost half a million in a 2017 seed funding round and a further £1.1m in a 2021 round, as well as offering Grice’s stated 220,000 existing customer base.

Simon Rogerson, co-founder and CEO of Octopus Group, said: “Death is a taboo topic. Hardly anyone talks about, let alone tackles, how to make death more human. At Octopus, we believe that the most successful companies will not only solve society’s biggest problems but also behave in a way that is reassuringly human.

“Guardian Angel is a perfect example of this driving belief. In backing Sam and his team, we hope that Octopus can be a catalyst for further positive and meaningful change in supporting people through death.”

Octopus said the majority stake acquisition of Guardian Angel will allow the business to scale further. Grice will stay on as CEO, with the rest of the 11 staff members also retaining their positions.

Announcing the deal on LinkedIn, Grice said: “The journey here hasn’t always been easy, but I am so proud of what we’ve achieved, and I know Mum would be too.”

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