The Fund Founder Spotlight Interview: Cara McCarty of Betterleave Bereavement
The Fund is a founder community and early stage fund, by founders for founders.
Welcome to The Founder Spotlight where we highlight the incredible people behind the companies we’ve backed at The Fund. This week the spotlight is on Cara McCarty, co-founder and CEO of Betterleave Bereavement, a bereavement benefits provider for employers, delivering bereavement care through personalized funeral, memorial and estate coordination, financial planning, and integrated grief and mental health support.
The death of a family member, friend, colleague, pet or a pregnancy loss is a transformational life event that turns our world upside down. It’s already difficult enough dealing with the emotional and mental health impacts from grief, but many of us are also expected to hold down a full-time job with no bereavement benefits or assistance with the coordnation and logisticals of bereavement. Co-founders Cara McCarty and Albert Swantner are simplifying the complex world of bereavement with Betterleave Bereavement. Companies use Betterleave to help employees navigate the complex bereavement landscape with the help of care coordinators and top death care experts, products & services together in one place, saving time and money.
Cara and Albert met as Partners of The Fund Austin and have come together to collaborate on this new tech venture. They founded the company at the beginning of the year and are launching this week. Betterleave helps employees balance work and family life after the loss of a loved one by providing support during one of the most challenging moments in their lives. Cara has an extensive background in Human Resources and has truly created Betterleave “by HR, for HR.”
How did you come up with the idea for Betterleave and why now?
Betterleave is an idea that I have been thinking about since my mom passed away. She died a few years ago from a sudden and rare form of cancer. Throughout my career as an HR partner, I have supported employees going through pretty challenging and monumental life events, but I had never been on the other side of something so life changing. When my mom was diagnosed, I was the chosen sibling to very quickly figure all of it out. I knew nothing about the death care industry. I became an expert within a matter of weeks, from sourcing the experts to help create her end of life wishes to planning the funeral and all of the 101 other things you have to do. It’s incredibly difficult when you combine that responsibility with being a working professional.
In terms of timing and why now, the pandemic has reshaped what we [as employees] prioritize and what we expect from our employers in terms of benefits and support. We've given employers a front row seat into our lives--working from home, our kids playing under our desks, our dogs interrupting meetings and this real blending of work and life. And we now expect employers to embrace that our lives and our families are a priority for us. And employers are listening. Employers are starting to roll out more care benefits than ever before, like babysitter and caregiver stipends and family forming offerings. Now is the time while employers are in that buying pattern to launch bereavement care to support employees as they navigate the complex bereavement landscape.
What makes Betterleave a “must-have” vs a “nice-to-have”?
We’re solving for a fact of life. Everyone is going to die and we’re all going to experience bereavement at different times and in different ways throughout our lives. For us, especially the generations X, Y, and Z, we expect technology to make our lives easier, faster, more automated and more connected, and why shouldn’t we have that same experience while experiencing a loss? Death is hard enough, you shouldn't have to spend countless hours surfing the web to find out which funeral home is top rated or how to write an obituary.
Are there many competitors in the bereavement space? What sets you apart?
There are tech-endable death care competitors, but more in the consumer focused space. We are the first to market tackling this problem B2B2C, for the workplace as an employee benefit. The death care industry is a very fragmented, old and antiquated space. It's ripe for disruption. I'm excited about all of the new entrants into this market, because there are many different areas people can tackle from ecological death care with Recompose to turning ashes into diamonds with Eterneva.
What do you consider some of your greatest personal/professional accomplishments?
Personally, being able to help my mom at the end of her life was an incredible journey and something I hold very dear. Professionally, one of my greatest accomplishments was the first HR tech company that I co-founded--Code Pilot. We built technical and behavioral assessments enabling software developers to be matched more intelligently with companies that were hiring. It was both a learning & development platform and recruitment platform combined. We were acquired by AngelList on the talent side. I believe they are still using those assessments in their paid version.
What makes you a non-obvious founder?
I think it’s my background as an HR operator and leader, which I also consider my superpower. I have a lens of how to grow and scale teams and motivate people to be the best that they can be and love what they're doing. My entire career as a HR business partner has been working with leaders and listening to employees to build high-growth people programs across all centers of excellence-- from recruiting to total rewards and benefits.