After losing several family members, entrepreneur Daniel Shaw decided to devote his life to building an enduring business that would effectively address the needs of bereaved people. Daniel will be leading a lunchtime conversation at End Well 2023 on November 16th in Los Angeles.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m the co-founder and CEO of Autumn (autumn.co), an end-of-life marketplace that connects bereaved communities with local service providers to help manage life after loss. We offer free guides, tools, and trusted experts to help surviving families navigate the legal, financial, emotional and logistical challenges that accompany death. We make loss more livable.
Was there a defining moment in your life that ignited your passion to address end-of-life experiences openly?
Over the last 10 years I lost many of my closest family members. Each time, I watched smart, capable people spring into action in the most disorganized way possible. Coming from the world of tech, I looked to the web for something that could help manage the process, but was surprised to find very little. The few businesses I found were pandering, unhelpfully verbose, and difficult to action. I didn’t understand why a trusted consumer brand that offered empathetic technology to manage loss didn’t exist. So I decided to do something about it: since 2021 I’ve devoted my life to building an enduring business that would effectively address the needs of bereaved people.
Given your unique background, how does your work intersect with end-of-life and/or grief?
Prior to Autumn, I spent 15 years building digital products, experiences, and campaigns for Fortune 500 companies in the creative marketing and advertising industry. It may seem like a far departure from end-of-life, but as the child of two psychoanalysts, and the beneficiary of 15 years of analysis, my passion for mental health has made me keenly aware of the consumer psyche. It’s no coincidence that my career path would intersect with personal loss to focus my attention on building a startup that helps bereaved people in a holistic, multi-disciplinary way.
In your experience, what is the most significant societal norm or belief about death and dying that needs to be challenged or redefined?
I often equate the deathcare industry with the diamond industry. 80 years ago an advertising campaign for De Beers convinced America that the only way to show love was to buy an excessively expensive diamond ring. The same goes for the deathcare industry: over the last 100 years, Americans have been conditioned to think there’s only one way to die. I’m passionate about reducing information asymmetry to change this belief, and help bereaved consumers make more varied, healthy and equitable purchase decisions. We should all be able to manage death the same way we manage life.
Why are you attending End Well 2023?
I’m always looking to learn from end-of-life professionals and there’s no better place to meet like-minded, mission-driven community members than at End Well. In order to improve the end-of-life experience, I strongly believe that progressive thought leaders need to share their ideas publicly and band together. End Well’s symposiums are the perfect place to do just that: I’m looking forward to getting feedback on Autumn, sharing more about my vision, and learning from others, so we can chart ever better paths forward together.
Who do you hope to meet there?
Hospice workers, deathcare professionals, mental health providers, estate/probate attorneys, death doulas, public policy advisors, and anyone else who works hard to help bereaved communities.
Daniel Shaw is the co-founder and CEO of Autumn (autumn.co), an end-of-life marketplace that connects bereaved communities with local service providers to help manage life after loss. By supporting consumers with free guides and tools, and helping end-of-life providers find new customers to grow their business, Autumn is changing the way the world deals with death. A medical school dropout, Daniel started his career as a technology producer in the creative marketing and advertising industry, notably at Wieden+Kennedy, where he oversaw the digital business as Director of Digital Accounts. Daniel’s background in consumer technology, brand marketing, and personal loss fuels his passion to build a modern end-of-life company to effectively address the needs of bereaved people.