Commemoration can take many forms. What once started as a statue for the rich and famous has become obituaries in local newspapers — and now a hashtag on social media. As time has passed and our world is increasingly lived online, Israeli company Eternity has found a way to respectfully and easily commemorate our loved ones once they have passed, with a home-built website full of memories for loved ones to submit.
“Basically, our mission and vision was to make sure that it wasn’t just the rich that got credit,” said Shahar Peled, CEO of Eternity. “Not those who have the special stories, not just the heroes, but everyone should be commemorated. Every life story is deserved and important to someone. For the time being, until we started, there was no solution to ensure that every life story is commemorated. We decided to change it.”
Peled joined co-founders Eran Tor and Rani Cohen, both of whom had suffered a personal loss, to help build the product that would eventually become Eternity. The platform offers easy-to-use tools for people with a variety of computer skills to create a website dedicated to their loved ones. This may include the option to upload photos, videos or texts from friends and family, which will be published once approved by the site’s moderators. According to Peled, this is the new way future generations will honor their ancestors.
“The next generation, my nieces, nephews and future children, will not want to open the photo albums,” he continued. “It’s not your generation. I doubt they’ll read her books and I figured my memory, even my parents’, wasn’t good enough to tell a full life story.”
Speaking at his grandparents’ memorial service, Peled realized that a tool like Eternity can gently and respectfully honor older generations. As he spoke about their Holocaust survival stories, he knew he didn’t know every detail of their lives and couldn’t share anecdotes from different periods of life like high school friends or colleagues of the deceased could. Eternity gives younger people the opportunity to learn about their deceased loved ones not just from family members, but from a whole network of people who used to know them.
Eternity has already commemorated 2,000 people at its sites, most of whom were built by the “children” of the deceased – thankfully in middle age. Users can pay a monthly fee of 19 NIS ($5.90) or a lifetime one-time fee of 1,000 NIS ($310). According to Peled, no one has ever canceled an account: they either paid the lifetime fee right away or eventually upgraded their monthly plans. The company promises never to host ads on the platform to honor the memories and stories shared.
Many familiar with construction sites may be wondering why Eternity feels like it’s filling a gap in the market. There are many websites like Wix that can help users create websites, and social media networking sites like Facebook can commemorate user accounts once they are notified that a user has died. Even so, Peled argues that memorials should only feature certain aspects of life: not every status update or photo revealing high school debauchery. “With Facebook, you can log in even if the site commemorates and still see an ad for a bikini on the right or a washing machine on the left because that’s how Facebook works,” Peled said.
He even argues that Wix, which aims to help people with no web experience build websites, is too geared towards B2B needs and hasn’t yet addressed the needs of commemoration. “The option of creating a website isn’t new… but the option of creating a memorial website and making it as easy as possible for each person is. We have an 82-year-old grandma who made a website for her spouse,” he said, also citing the financial benefit of using Eternity over Wix, whose service can reach hundreds of dollars a year.
The sites can be accessed via a QR code that Eternity helps place on tombstones, benches, and locations around the world. While the majority of loved ones memorialized are “non-tragic,” the company works with organizations for more sensitive deaths, such as fallen soldiers, or with places like educational institutions, museums, or places of worship that wish to host their own memorial centers. Peled is dubbed “Wikipedia of commemoration”.
Eternity was fully boosted by its founders until it received a $300,000 pre-seed round once its sales reached $1 million. A few months ago, the company secured a $5 million seed round from RT Capital and private investors and looks forward to a Series A next year.
“Right now we are exploring life stories and using technology to transform the way people celebrate the life stories of their loved ones for eternity,” concluded Peled. “We don’t want her memory to be lost and once it’s on her headstone it will never be lost… I want to be remembered even if I don’t become a millionaire or famous.” My life story will be meaningful to some people and I want them to remember me the way I want them to remember me,” he said.