Why We Invested - Betterleave
Updated: Nov 2
Founders: Cara McCarty Abbott
Women’s Health Vertical: Mental Health
Industry: Digital Health
Meet Betterleave: bereavement care technology to help organizations support their members through grief and loss
Betterleave aims to transform the bereavement care space with a differentiated, integrated approach to grief and mental health. Bereavement care is a growing category of employee benefits that enables modern employers to connect with and support their employees through the difficult and complex grieving process. Betterleave’s platform brings together industry-leading partners from death care, insurance, health systems and hospices, and mental health networks to provide grieving individuals with personalized administrative and counseling services. It is the first comprehensive digital and clinical care platform to deliver a full spectrum of bereavement care support, including end-of-life planning, access to licensed therapists and community groups, and post-loss programs.
About 3.4 million Americans pass away each year (CDC), each leaving on average 9 grieving people behind (PNAS). Yet, for many of these people, there is a critical gap in support and resources to navigate the professional, financial, and emotional challenges of grief and loss. About 90% of employers have some form of a bereavement leave policy, with most offering 3-4 days of paid leave. With recent national legislative changes and the devastating impact of Covid-19 taking more than 1.1 million lives, grief and the management of it have become even more relevant in the workplace. Over $60 billion of costs are incurred annually due to grief-related productivity loss. Betterleave’s CEO, Cara McCarty Abbott, experienced this herself as both an HR leader for many years and when her mother suddenly passed away after a terminal cancer diagnosis. She was motivated to build Betterleave “for HR, by HR” and take away the tremendous logistical and mental burden that falls upon grieving individuals pre- and post-loss.
What differentiates them in the market relative to competitors?
Betterleave provides a comprehensive subscription-based clinical care platform that spans across the entire bereavement process, from pre-need (estate planning), immediate need (hospice selection), loss navigation (claiming benefits), to continuous grief support (therapy). Their value applies to any kind of grief experienced, whether that be the passing of a loved one, to pregnancy loss, pet loss, or anticipatory grief (non-terminal breast cancer diagnosis). Betterleave provides support to both patients themselves and/or their caregivers and facilitates a seamless hand-off of critical information stored in the digital platform via programmatically sent messages and “family collaboration” features. The programmatic message triggered at the time of loss also benefits hospices who are then required from that point to provide bereavement support for 13 months.
This comprehensive set of services differentiates Betterleave from other competitors in the bereavement space who primarily provide loss logistics services (drafting wills, funeral planning) and do not have a clinical focus to address grief. Seventy five percent of people engaging with the Betterleave platform are looking for grief support. Betterleave recruits licensed therapists who are trained in grief and loss counseling. Individuals also have access to local, grief support groups, family and couples counseling, and wellness and spiritual services.
About the founding team
Cara was Co-Founder and Chief People Officer of Code Pilot, a training and recruitment platform for developers, which was acquired by AngelList. Just prior to Betterleave, she was VP of People for Cognite, a global dataops company and has over a decade of experience in HR & Organizational Psychology.
She teamed up with Sam Leung, Head of Product to scale product capabilities. They previously worked together at REthink CRM, a commercial real estate Salesforce application. Prior to Betterleave, she was the Director of Product at Zilliant, a cloud-native pricing and sales software.
Betterleave’s team also consists of a global network of coaches and therapists with significant experience in grief and loss.
The rest of their executive suite and board is composed of professionals with experience in employee benefits, grief and loss, and the funeral network.
Coyote Ventures Investment
Coyote Ventures was first introduced to Betterleave through Transact Global, a group of female general partners. We were excited to see participation from many female-lead funds - led by Chingona Ventures and funds participating include Bread and Butter Ventures, VITALIZE, and AARP.
How the company is advancing the conversation around Mental Health?
Betterleave is shining a light on the mental health gap long overlooked in the death tech industry. For any individual losing a loved one, suffering a miscarriage, or receiving a terminal diagnosis, they deserve the proper time and support to grieve. Grief can range in complexity and severity, and be difficult to accurately diagnose. For some, the sense of loss is debilitating, prolonged, and interferes with work and other aspects of life. Betterleave recognizes that with all the logistical tasks associated with a loss, caregivers may not even have the time to grieve. The company has created the first digital loss-navigation platform that also combines with a comprehensive approach, and they want employers to play their part. The Covid-19 pandemic and shifts in workplace culture driven by the Millenial and Gen Z generations have pushed broader themes of employee wellness and mental health to the forefront of conversations. Work and life are becoming increasingly integrated as employers embrace remote work arrangements, and employees are expecting priorities around health and family to be reflected in their benefits. Betterleave’s technology solution will encourage employers to re-examine their benefits packages more holistically and invest in bereavement care with a mental health priority.
Going forward: vision of the company
Betterleave is partnering with hospices, insurers, and hospital systems to gain strong referral networks and establish bereavement care as a new category of employee benefits. By building out in-bound acquisition channels and targeting high-intent customers, Betterleave has already acquired several large national health plans and next, is positioning itself as the recommended grief expert. In order to keep up with demand, Betterleave will further expand its clinical care model and refine its grief training curriculum to ensure its licensed professionals can continue to deliver high quality, personalized, and specialized expert care that they have become known for. Coyote’s investment will help drive Betterleave forward in its mission to reinvent the bereavement care landscape and make understanding and navigating bereavement care effortless.