Meet the 30X30: Eirene’s Mallory Greene is Destigmatizing the Business of Death
Our sixth annual Bay Street Bull 30X30 guide showcases a group of incredible individuals who are redefining the way we do business, championing their communities, and cultivating entirely new industries. From tech and environmental pioneers to cryptocurrency entrepreneurs and media trailblazers, each of this year’s inductees is challenging Canadians to think (and work) differently for a brighter future.
In our series of one-on-one interviews, get to know each honouree a little better: their values, mission, lessons learned, and best advice.
CEO and co-founder, Eirene
What is your elevator pitch to the world?
Mallory Greene: I’m the co-founder and CEO of Eirene, an innovative online cremation service based in Toronto. Eirene was founded to provide Canadians with a simple, compassionate, and modern approach to funeral services.
Previously, I worked at Wealthsimple as part of their founding team. I spent five years shaping the inner workings of the organization, growing the team, and marketing the complex topic of personal finances to the masses.
What excites you most about the work that you are doing?
Mallory Greene: Societal transformation originates from difficult conversations. The next decade is crucial to shaping end-of-life care for the better, and I’m excited to be a part of shifting how people approach conversations around dying. There are so many ways we can improve the end-of-life experience for everyone, and the first step is to provide people with the tools to have those conversations.
Where do you think you have made the most impact in your community?
Mallory Greene: I recently received a private message from a peer who used our services, and they said: “I can’t express how grateful we are for making the process of grief a little easier for us.” That’s exactly why Eirene exists. There’s something really special about building a business with the impact you want to have in mind, and that directly translates to the feedback families have on our services.
What kind of problems are you trying to solve? What’s wrong with the current status quo that you’ve taken on as your mission to change?
Mallory Greene: Many families have no idea what is involved in the funeral arrangement process until they are tasked with making arrangements for a loved one. To make matters more complicated, the funeral industry is predominantly offline meaning that much of the information required to make funeral arrangements requires a lengthy in-person appointment. The financial, logistical, and emotional burden that often falls on a grieving family is impractical.
Eirene’s goal is to make this information accessible to help families understand the options available to them while changing the conversation around death and dying overall. I’d love to create a sense of curiosity when it comes to having conversations about end-of-life, instead of fear and avoidance.
How do you think the pandemic created a dialogue around death that forced the industry to innovate and improve?
Mallory Greene: The pandemic brought to light how inefficient and inaccessible the funeral industry is. At a time when we couldn’t leave our homes, government services and funeral homes struggled to service consumers because everything had traditionally been in-person and paper-based. It essentially catapulted the industry and its surrounding operations into the 21st century. It also demonstrated how ill-prepared we are to manage an increasingly aging population.
Now more than ever, we are seeing many end-of-life startups appear around the world. I’ve noticed that personal experiences with healthcare and death during the pandemic has been a huge driver for entrepreneurs who recognize that how we’re currently operating is not sustainable and it’s time to bring new ideas to the table.
How has the word “impact” manifested in your work?
Mallory Greene: Impact manifests in my work by serving as a reminder of why I’m building Eirene. It guides my daily decisions on how we build our product, what experience we provide and how we communicate what we do to the world. If I can remember why we started and the impact that can have on Canadians, I can approach each day with a clear picture of what I need to accomplish. Impact also serves as a cushion to the hard days, because I know there’s a greater purpose for what I’m doing.
What is one lesson that you hope people will learn or walk away from your work?
Mallory Greene: That having conversations around death and dying teaches you how to live. As cliché as it is, facing the reality of life and death will help you understand what matters most and you’ll spend your time doing the things you love, with people you love. People who have been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness are true reflections of this idea. They start to focus more on living once they know how they’re going to die. We shouldn’t have to wait until a diagnosis to live our life.
What has been your proudest moment as an entrepreneur? Your biggest milestone?
Mallory Greene: Receiving our license in Ontario after a 10-month regulatory battle was a major milestone. Most recently, being featured in the New York Times—not bad for an Ontario-based business founded by a woman. My proudest moments are small moments with families, when they provide feedback about how our services impacted them or how we helped them, even if just in a small way. Running a business is difficult, but feeling like you’ve left someone better than you found them is what keeps me pushing forward.
Why does your work matter?
Mallory Greene: Someone’s life is forever altered after a loss, and in funeral services, we are often the first interaction a family has in this next phase of their life. Death is isolating, overwhelming, and confusing. I’ve always felt honoured not only to serve families and take care of their loved one but also to be a guiding light during a challenging time.
What have you learned about yourself as you’ve built your company and raised your voice?
Mallory Greene: That I’m a master problem solver, and I can tackle anything that comes my way. In fact, I thrive off of challenges. I’ve also learned to be more patient and trust the process, as there are many pieces outside of my control as I grow the business. As we used to say at Wealthsimple, focus on what you can control and think long term. I’ve kept that tunnel vision while building Eirene.
What is a major career goal that you have set your sights on and hope to accomplish in 2022?
Mallory Greene: Launching across Canada will be a massive milestone for Eirene, mostly because of the complex regulatory processes and outdated legislation that exists in each province. Now that we’ve solidified our product and experience, we’re hyperfocused on bringing our services to all Canadians in 2022.
What is your ultimate north star?
Mallory Greene: My personal mission is to continue to push the boundaries on traditionally taboo topics and provide people with the tools to have difficult conversations. My ultimate north star for Eirene is to reshape how we think about and view death. I’d like to believe that by building the first household name in death care, we’ll be able to help people unpack their thoughts, fears and personal stories around end-of-life.