We are excited to announce our recent investment in After, an online cremation planning and fulfillment service. Traditional burials currently consume over 60,000 tons of steel and nearly two million tons of concrete. They release more than four million gallons of toxic embalming fluid into the environment each year. Cremation offers a more environmentally friendly option than traditional burials (with innovations like water cremation making the process even more green). Cremation is legal in all 50 states and is typically one-third of the cost of a traditional burial. In addition to doing something that feels more sustainable, we believe After is in the right space at the right time with a tech-forward, seamless customer journey. Cremation rates have increased from 10% to 50% since 1980 and are expected to climb to 80% within the next ten years. After achieved 2x year-over-year growth. Matchstick Ventures and Revolution also participated in this round.
It is fitting that this investment in the end of life will be MergeLane’s last.
We started MergeLane in 2014 to prove that investing in women drives superior investment returns. Over the past eight years, we’ve invested in 54 female-led companies. Our portfolio is valued at 2.5x our investment. The investments we made in the early days, which have had the most time to mature, are valued at 8.2x our investment. In July, idaciti, one of our first accelerator portfolio companies, was acquired by FactSet (NYSE: FDS | NASDAQ: FDS), yielding a 4.3x DPI (distributions to paid capital) for our first fund.
We are incredibly proud of our portfolio companies. On top of the walking-through-fire feat of defying the 90% startup failure rate, our companies have weathered pandemics, staffing shortages, and supply chain nightmares. Eighty-one percent of our active companies are thriving, achieving double-digit growth.
We’ve learned so much from this journey and from the thousands of extraordinary leaders, mentors, and investors we have met along the way. We plan to share some of our most resonant takeaways more broadly. To that end, Sue has completed a manuscript on selling (yourself, a product, a startup vision) called YOUmanship, expected out in late 2024. She also continues to work with tech companies and their leaders as an executive coach, with a focus on Conscious Leadership. Elizabeth is writing a book and starting a podcast. She is also going to share some of the lessons she’s learned and more about our future vision for MergeLane on our MergeLane blog. Subscribe to stay in the loop.
Thank you for reading and for your support, as always.
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