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Return Home Shark Tank: Innovative Solutions for End-of-Life Care

Return Home is the largest termination facility in the world and pitched their business to the Sharks during Season 15 Episode 2. The company provides eco-friendly alternatives to traditional burial methods. The concept of human composting presented by Return Home offers a unique and potentially sustainable solution amidst potential environmental concerns.

Shark Tank Facts

Shark: None

Investment: None

Valuation: None

Season, Episode: 15,2

The Concept of Human Composting

The innovative process of human composting, also known as Natural Organic Reduction, presents an alternative approach to traditional burial and cremation, offering environmentally friendly benefits through a transformative cycle returning human remains to the earth.

Understanding Terramation

Terramation, a term that has become synonymous with human composting, involves a controlled process where human remains are converted into nutrient-rich compost. The composting mixture typically includes materials like alfalfa, straw, and sawdust. This method facilitates the natural breakdown of organic matter, resulting in soil that can be returned to nature or families for memorial purposes. Companies like Return Home have pioneered this service, emphasizing the gentle transformation and respectful treatment of the departed.

Legislative Background in Washington State

Washington was the first state to legalize human composting, officially known as Natural Organic Reduction, with the law taking effect in May 2020. The state’s legislation opened the door for facilities such as Return Home to offer human composting services.

Human composting is a sustainable option, turning human remains into compost that can enrich soil, promote plant growth, and restore natural ecosystems. The environmental benefits make Terramation a progressive choice, supporting the awareness and concern for eco-friendly practices in all aspects of life, even death.

Return Home’s Journey on Shark Tank

Return Home, founded by Micha Truman and Katey Houston, presented its eco-friendly after-life service on Shark Tank, seeking a $2 million investment for 5% equity to scale their operations. As reference, that puts the valuation at $40,000,000…probably one of the highest ever seen in the Tank.

Investors’ Reaction

The Sharks, including Mark Cuban and Lori, reacted skeptically to the high valuation. Cuban explicitly voiced his concerns over the company’s ambitious numbers, eventually leading him to bow out of any potential deal. Daniel Lubetzky, guest Shark, engaged with the entrepreneurs but also hesitated due to the valuation. Despite the innovative concept and its alignment with environmental sustainability, no investment was secured from the Sharks.

Business and Financial Aspects

Market Valuation

The pre-investment valuation at $40 million was met with skepticism due to the current size and revenues of the business. The ambitious valuation was driven by the confidence the founders have in their business model and the perceived potential of eco-friendly alternatives in the funeral industry.

The company reported generating around $350,000 in revenue in 2022, indicating a early stage in its sales trajectory, especially for a $40M valuation. Return Home’s growth strategy is built around the need for environmentally friendly options in the funeral services market. With a compelling offer on the platform StartEngine, the company has made strategic efforts to attract more resources and fuel its business growth.

Composting Process

The composting process at Return Home involves the careful placement of the body in a vessel with natural materials like straw, alfalfa, and sawdust. These ingredients are chosen because they can support the necessary microbes that break down organic matter.

Soil Enrichment

After the composting cycle, the resulting material is fertile soil, rich in nutrients. This soil can be returned to the environment, contributing to woodland health and growth. Soil scientists validate the enrichment process, ensuring the soil’s contribution to the ecosystem is beneficial and supports sustainability.

Eco-Friendly Practices

Return Home employs several eco-friendly practices to lessen their environmental footprint. From using biodegradable materials to creating a life-sustaining product at the end of their service, the company resonates with the values of environmental stewardship. Their human composting service provides an alternative that aligns with the principles of environmental conservation and sustainability.

Company Operations

Return Home is a fully licensed funeral home. It has changed the funeral service industry in Washington State by introducing a sustainable alternative to traditional burial and cremation practices.

Services Offered

Return Home offers terramation services, which is a full-service, human composting funeral option. Clients can choose between in-person or online laying-in services, ensuring the process is accessible and accommodating to various needs. The business caters to both individual and family preferences, with the end result being the transformation of human remains into fertile soil that can be returned to families for remembrance.

Facility Overview

Tour of the Return Home facility

The company runs a state-of-the-art facility in Washington State, overseen by its experienced CEO. This facility is the core of Return Home’s operations, boasting efficient technology for the composting process and fostering a respectful environment for the delicate services they provide.

Terramation Center Features

Return Home’s Terramation Center is the operational heart where human composting takes place. It is equipped with specialized areas designed for each step of the process, ensuring that the transformation of remains to soil is handled with care and respect. The brand’s unique approach to funeral service has set a new standard, with the Center encapsulating their commitment to a full-service human composting and memorial experience.

Public Perception and Adoption

In scrutinizing the response to Return Home following its appearance on Shark Tank, it becomes evident that the public’s attention was captured by their alternative method to traditional end-of-life options. This attention stems from both the cultural and social perspectives entwining sustainability with death care and the burgeoning consumer interest and demand for such eco-friendly options.

Cultural and Social Perspectives

Human composting, as advocated by Return Home, challenges traditional burial and cremation methods. This novel concept blends a growing cultural shift towards environmental consciousness with the death care industry. It is not just a disposal method but embodies a philosophy of returning to nature, echoing the practices of green funeral homes. Such practices signal a departure from conventional norms and open dialogue on life, death, and legacy in a sustainable environment.

Consumer Interest and Demand

The demand for green burial options like those offered by Return Home reflects an alignment with the values of a segment of consumers. These individuals prioritize the environment in their life choices and are extending these values to their own deathcare plans. Tracking the market’s pulse, funeral directors are observing a significant incline in inquiries and preferences for eco-friendly funeral services. Consumer interest in alternatives like human composting has spiked, indicating a shift in the funeral industry that could lead to wider acceptance and demand for such deathcare options.

Industry and Competitive Landscape

The death care industry is undergoing a transformation as it faces environmental challenges and a shift in consumer preferences toward sustainability. Amidst this change, innovative companies are emerging to offer green alternatives to traditional end-of-life services.

Death Care Industry Challenges

The traditional funeral industry is often characterized by practices with significant environmental impact, notably in the usage of energy, resources, and the carbon footprint related to producing caskets and the embalming process. Funeral homes and funeral directors are at a crossroads, as they balance providing respectful services with the growing need for eco-friendly options. Consumers are now more aware of the environmental implications of their choices, even after death, and this is putting pressure on the industry to adapt.

Competing Green Funeral Services

In response to the environmental challenges and changing consumer attitudes, services like Green Funeral Service and Full-Service Green Funeral Homes are gaining traction. They distinguish themselves from traditional funerals by utilizing methods such as bio-degradable vessels instead of caskets and opting for natural preservation techniques over standard embalming. In line with this trend, the company Return Home, featured on ABC‘s show Shark Tank, has introduced an innovative process that caters to the deathcare market with a focus on composting, asserting itself as a green alternative within the funeral industry. This service reduces the energy footprint associated with traditional practices and proposes a sustainable way of handling the remains of the dying.

Return Home’s Future Vision

Return Home envisions transforming the funeral industry with sustainable practices that challenge the status quo. With plans to expand and diversify services, they are strategically positioning themselves as a leader in green funeral services.

Expansion Plans

Business Model: Return Home seeks to extend their reach geographically with a robust expansion strategy. Their business model is built on the premise of offering an eco-friendly alternative to traditional burial methods, which often involve embalming—a practice that dates back to the Civil War and uses chemicals inconsistent with natural decomposition.

Research and Financial Viability: The company invests in continuous research to ensure the financial viability of their expansion. They focus on markets showing openness to green services, thus increasing the potential for widespread acceptance of natural composting as a standard practice.

Vital Conversation: Return Home is keen on elevating the public discourse about green burial practices, fostering a vital conversation that encourages more individuals to plan ahead for environmentally conscious end-of-life services.

Service Diversification

Plan Ahead: They are not just content with providing an alternative to embalming; Return Home plans to diversify their service offerings to include pre-planning options. This initiative assists individuals in arranging their green funeral service ahead of time, ensuring that their final wishes are respected and reducing stress on surviving family members.

Green Funeral Service: The diversification also implicates exploring more innovative green funeral services, like reinforcing the soil with nutrients derived from the natural composting process. Research supports that such practices are not only viable but essential for the sustainable development of the funeral industry.

Return Home is strategically poised to revolutionize end-of-life services, with a commitment to environmental stewardship and changing perceptions about life’s final chapter.


Return Home appeared on Shark Tank to present their innovative end-of-life service. They showcased a composting process as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional burial and cremation methods. This concept aligns with growing environmental concerns and the push toward sustainability in various sectors.

Despite the ingenuity and potential market impact, the company left the tank without securing an investment. It highlighted a competitive entrepreneurial environment where not only the idea matters but also the valuation and the investment pitch itself.

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