Santa Fe startup secures deal on ABC’s Shark Tank

Parting Stone logo. Parting Stone offers a clean alternative to ashes.
By Jacob Maranda – New Mexico Inno Reporter, April 13, 2023

Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary was one of the investors who bought into Santa Fe-based Parting Stone during an episode of the show that aired April 7, 2023. mehmet demirci

Few founders who step onto the Shark Tank stage leave with deals — especially good ones. That wasn’t so for Justin Crowe.

Crowe, the founder and CEO of Santa Fe-based startup Parting Stone, walked up to the five sharks — including guest Gwyneth Paltrow — and, after sharing the story behind his company’s founding, asked for $400,000 in return for a 5% stake.

Paltrow commended the idea but walked away. Mark Cuban dropped out because he had already invested in a competitor.

And while the three remaining sharks — Barbara Corcoran, Lori Greiner and Kevin O’Leary — initially balked at Parting Stone’s revenue losses since launching in 2019, Greiner and O’Leary came in with a counter of $400,000 for a 20% stake, split evenly between the two.

Parting Stone offers a human remain solidification service. Courtesy Parting Stone

That piqued the interest of Corcoroan, who had stepped away from the deal moments before. She re-entered, but with a stipulation — royalties on direct-to-consumer and business-to-business sales.

After a bit of back-and-forth, during which Greiner threatened to drop out, Crowe accepted her and O’Leary’s modified joint offer — $400,000 for a split 10% equity stake in Parting Stone, plus a $20 royalty on direct-to-consumer sales and a $12.50 royalty on business-to-business sales until $400,000 is paid to the two investors.

Crowe told Albuquerque Business First on Wednesday that he liked Greiner and O’Leary’s deal because they seemed to understand the service his startup offers.

Parting Stone was a 2022 New Mexico Inno Fire Award honoree. Pictured is the company’s founder Justin Crowe. Liz Lopez Photography

“Lori, in particular, seemed to understand it and be moved by it, and that’s important for us to have partners that understand it,” he said. “Kevin has connections to the pet loss space, and Lori has an incredible track record of launching new products and communicating new ideas.”

Besides landing a deal, appearing on Shark Tank gave Crowe the chance to spread the word about his company — something that he said has been a challenge.

“This was a big experiment,” he said. “We educated more than 10 million people on a single night that when you choose cremation you don’t have to receive ashes, there’s another comfortable form of remains.

“We’re now gathering the data, looking at the results, figuring out where the interest is, where the traction is,” he continued. “We’re going to put energy and resources into that.”

Since appearing on the Shark Tank episode on April 7, Crowe said Parting Stone has been tracking data such as sales team outreach, number of partner corporations, funeral home sales, direct-to-consumer sales and traffic to the website.

On that last data point, Crowe said Parting Stone has seen a 900% increase over the past week. Social media traffic has been up too, he added. “We’re like blowing up on Tik-Tok right now.”

Parting Stone is using that data to constantly update its revenue and growth projections, Crowe said. The startup had its highest sales ever and its highest level of efficiency in March, he told Business First last week before the episode aired, and the new money gained from Greiner and O’Leary’s deal could help Parting Stone streamline its manufacturing through automation, Crowe said on the show.

And landing the deal with Greiner and O’Leary could help boost the company’s direct-to-consumer sales — a fact O’Leary used when imploring Crowe to take him and Greiner’s offer. Crowe told the investors that selling directly to customers currently accounts for about a quarter of Parting Stone’s business.

For the founder, standing there in front of the five lauded investors and the millions of live viewers showed him that he likes the pressure.

“I enjoyed that experience,” Crowe said. “I want to do more of it.”

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