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Return Home

return homeMicha Truman and Katey Houstonno pitch Return Home, their human composting company, in Shark Tank episode 1503. Return Home offers a “green” alternative to burial or cremation, both of which have adverse effects on the environment. Simply put, the company’s process turns a human body into soil. Families can then use the soil to create a memorial garden.

It works like this: the body is prepared and placed in a biodegradable gown. It’s placed in a vessel with straw and alfalfa and sawdust. Familes can add notes or flowerss to the vessel if they wish. The body is left in the vessel to compost. The process, known as terramation, takes about two months and turns the body into usable soil that can be placed virtually anywhere. Family members may visit the “body” during the process at any time.

Terramation is only legal in a few states as of October, 2023. They are Washington, California, Oregon, Colorado, and Vermont. At a cost of  $5500, it’s half the cost of a traditional burial and about twice the cost of cremation. The business got started in 2021 and the company raised $675,911.30 on StartEngine to help build out their facility. They likely want a Shark’s cash for legislative initiatives and expandiing their facility.

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ReturnHome Human Composting

Return Home Shark Tank Recap

Micha and Katey enter the Shark Tank and Katey says the families of the 3.4 million Americans who die each year have to choose between 2 unsustainable options: cremation or burial. Every year, the cremation industry burns enough fuel to send a rocket to the moon and back 1300 times. We could build a Golden Gate Bridge each year from the steel used in caskets. Katey says she knows the way we deal with death is toxic. Micah says “the way we are dying is killing us.”

Micah explains that their process turns human remain into soil in 60-90 days. He says that rather than pollute the earth when we die, our last act can be to give back to it. The soil remains can be returned to the family or placed in their 8 acre woodland. They’re seeking $2 million for 5%.  Then they explain the process. People are placed in a vessel with straw, alafalfa and sawdust. In 30-40 days, the dead body’s microbes break the body down into soil which then has to rest for another 30-40 days.

The Particulars

They have 74 vessels at their 12,ooo square foot warehouse. Families can come visit their vessel if they wish.  Roughly 2 million people are getting cremated every year at a cost of about $7000. Burial is about $8000 which does not include plot. Their service costs just $5500. There are two other companies doing this, but Return Home is the only one that allows family visits.

Katey became a funeral director at age 16 in England and moved to the USA at age 18. When she went to her grandfather’s funeral, she felt she could do a better job. Micah spent 20 years in China after college where he worked in the wedding industry. When he returned to the USA, he wanted to build something that would make the world a better place and this is where that journey brought him.

Kevin likes it, but wants to know why the company is worth $40 million. Sales for 2022 were $350,000. By the end of May, 2023, they have $350,000 in sales. The company is losing money. They raised $5 million so far at a $20.6 million valuation in 2022.

Sieze the Moment

Mark tells Micah that this is his moment and Micah asks how many funeral homes are amazing, he then says “this isn’t a land grab, it’s a brand grab.” Mark says “you blew it, I’m out.” The company makes $3800 on each body. They are break even at 23 bodies per month and they can handle 74. Kevin thinks they should charge more but Micah wants it too be “reachable.”

Kevin likes the idea, but he doesn’t have a clear definition of the business model; he’s out. Daniel says their valuation makes no sense; he’s out. Daymond has a lot of respect for what they’re doing but he’s not passionate about it; he’s out. Lori thinks the valuation is too much; she’s out.

Return Home Shark Tank Update

The Shark Tank Blog constantly provides updates and follow-ups about entrepreneurs who have appeared on the Shark Tank TV show. After the original air date, Micah told Make It “our method isn’t just another drop in the death care industry ocean — it’s more like a tidal wave. We are the first major disposition method the funeral industry has seen since the civil war. By setting our price where we did, we are asking everyone: ‘What’s the true worth of supporting a loved one in their toughest hour?’ Our stint on ‘Shark Tank’ was all about sparking this vital conversation. In today’s world, a higher price often turns heads and raises eyebrows.”

In February, 2024, Katey spoke at Terracon, a conference with a focus on the human composting industry.

The Shark Tank Blog will follow-up on Return Home & Micha Truman and Katey Houstonno as more details become available.