Crowdsourcing a Space-Age Distribution Strategy

Charles Cowling



Tom Walkinshaw,right, with Dick Gordon, Command Module Pilot of Apollo 12  Pic ©Walk with Destiny


Posted by Tom Walkinshaw

Ed’s note: Tom is an enterprising fellow who has a plan to launch ashes into Space – Space burial, he calls it. He needs your help and expertise to get it off the ground, which is why he crowdsourcing on the blog this morning at our invitation. 

Alba Orbital are now a few steps down the start-up path. We have done a lot of research both online and out in the real world with only one more presentation to go. The journey has been exciting and rewarding (last week I had dinner with Apollo 12 Command module pilot Dick Gordon) but we have reached a crossroads. How do we distribute our service to the masses?

We want to take ashes where not many ashes have before… Space. For the record I do know it sounds crazy and people often wonder why I think it makes sense to do something so left of field. My opinion is that it is being done successfully currently in the USA, so why can’t the UK do it? It is up to people’s personal choice, but it is a choice we must all make. Cremation is now being chosen by 75% of Brits with that number on the rise year-on-year. We want to offer a solution to the Ashes Dilemma.

Things have gone well and we are in talks with a few Universities around collaborating on our first satellite. We have been supported by the Princes Trust who aim to help young people start-up in Business (I am still only 22). We have done well in a National Spin-out competition the ‘Converge Challenge’ and are the first company to incorporate ourselves.

So the challenge we now face is how do we reach our customers? How do we bring an innovative product to a traditional marketplace? We don’t have the answers. We have ideas and that is why we are putting it out to the Good Funeral Guide readership for their opinions on the matter. 420,000 people get cremated each year and none of them know we even exist.

We think a pre-planning option makes a lot sense, staggering the costs and is less of a knee jerk buying decision. For point of use do we partner with Funeral Directors? Would they take us seriously? We would love to know your thoughts. Online is a key tool for all business, but should we invest in allowing our service to be purchased on the web?

There are no dates in our diary for launching our pricing option, we want to do it right rather than do it fast. Any opinion positive/negative is always welcome. Thank you for reading.

Tom Walkinshaw
MD, Alba Orbital

Website: Twitter: @albaorbital Email:

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8 years ago

I lost my husband three weeks ago today. On Friday we collected his ashes. They sit on our sideboard until we can think of a fitting way to scatter them. The question is how? We mentioned to the Funeral Directors about wanting to scatter them in the air somehow because he was a pilot and loved his job. She then mentioned fireworks. I think if you ask a FD about options they will give them to you. But my most productive port of call was the internet. Sites offer all kinds of options along with the website address or telephone… Read more »

Tom W
8 years ago

Thanks for the feedback guys! I am in total agreement with the Website idea. Direct to market has its benefits versus doing an untraditional product via traditional channels. My opinion is FD’s would only want in if they saw us being very successful and it would be more a reactive move on their part. The whole feeling comfortable thing I get too. Any niche product has to get to a critical mass before it is accepted as mainstream by society. Cremation has had a long battle to get the popularity it has today. Thanks for the Advice Jonathan. I am… Read more »

Rich Martin
8 years ago

I like it (no surprise there). I think the website idea Jonathon mentioned is right, maybe FDs need an under the counter option for ashes…

8 years ago

I suspect funeral directors would have to feel comfortable about suggesting this novel idea to people when they ask the family, ‘what would you like us to do with the cremated remains?’ ‘Shoot them into space? Are you taking our grief seriously??’ You may do well to invest in a website; I believe people are more likely to take it seriously for themselves than for someone else who’s only just died. If someone’s got instructions to sky-scatter his ashes, the family don’t need the funeral director to do anything other than collect them from the crematorium, if that – it’d… Read more »