SLO High grad turns ashes into diamonds. Now she’s in the spotlight on ‘Shark Tank’

A San Luis Obispo High School graduate swam with the sharks Sunday on “Shark Tank” — and survived with an amazing business deal.

Adelle Archer went on the popular ABC reality competition in hopes of securing an investment for the company she co-founded —Eterneva, an Austin, Texas-based business that honors deceased loved ones by turning their ashes into diamonds.

“It was definitely one of the crazier life experiences that I’ve ever had,” said Archer, who appeared on Sunday’s episode of “Shark Tank” with Eterneva co-founder Garrett Ozar.

Founded in 2016, Eterneva creates lab-grown diamonds out of the carbon from cremated human or animal remains, also known as cremains, as well as hair from pets and people. The process take 10 months and results in gems ranging in price from $3,000 to $20,000, Archer told the “Shark Tank” investors.

Eterneva, which employs 14 people, is looking to end 2019 with $2.5 million in sales, Archer said.

The company’s success “really reinforces a big culture shift we’re seeing right now,” Archer said, noting the Global Wellness Institute identified “dying well” as a major wellness trend for 2019. “We’re seeing a death-positive movement, and Eterneva is at the front of that.”

“We’re trying to open a conversation about death and remembrance,” she explained.

That’s one of the reasons she and Ozar headed to Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City a few months ago to film an episode of “Shark Tank.”

Archer said she and Ozar went on “Shark Tank” to call attention to Eterneva and its philosophy. But they were also hoping to hook some high-profile backers.

“Seriously, guys, our investors are wonderful,” Archer told the “Shark Tank” investors. “(But) they’re tech investors. They aren’t the people who can help. This is a household branded experience and we need partners that can get us in front of consumers. …”

Eterneva co-founders Adelle Archer, center, and Garrett Ozar, right, shake hands with investor Mark Cuban on an episode of “Shark Tank” on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. Eric McCandless ABC

Although they fielded offers from three sharks, Archer and Ozar ultimately brokered a deal with a fellow Texan, billionaire businessman Mark Cuban.

The Dallas Mavericks owner agreed to invest $600,000 for a 9% stake, which values the company at $8 million. That puts Eterneva in the top 5% of all valuations in “Shark Tank” history, Archer said.

In addition to 6% stakes, “We gifted Mark a 2% founder grant and 1% advisory shares,” Archer said, adding that Eterneva is also bringing Cuban aboard as a formal adviser.

“This was definitely a huge win-win,” she said.

Ash diamonds
Cremated ash contains carbon, which Eterneva turns into diamonds. Courtesy photo

“Mark is somebody who really invests in the future,” Archer said. “He really thinks about what are the consumer technologies that are going to be changing the world as we know it — and Eterneva really fits with that (philosophy).”

Archer, who was named part of Inc. magazine’s 30 Under 30 list of Rising Star entrepreneurs in 2018, said Eterneva is already enjoying a surge of interest thanks to Sunday’s “Shark Tank” appearance.

“A lot of people don’t know about (turning ashes into diamonds), so it’s really special for them to learn about this for the first time,” she said. “So much of our business is word-of-mouth. We’re looking forward to seeing that continuing lasting impact (from the show).”

Asked if she’s a fan of “Shark Tank,” Archer laughed.

“Yeah, of course. What entrepreneur isn’t?” she asked. “Anyone (who’s gone) on ‘Shark Tank’ has grown up watching a lot of ‘Shark Tank.’“

Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune

Entertainment editor Sarah Linn writes about all things fun, including movies, television, the performing arts, the visual arts and the best places to eat and drink in San Luis Obispo County. A graduate of Oregon State University, she has worked for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo for more than a decade and has earned multiple California journalism awards.