I’m happy to present this blog about an amazing and challenging journey -Circle of life concept development. It was developed for my Master’s thesis: How can a disruptive be developed better during its early stages, but as a concept it goes beyond the Program.

It started in November 2014 at Hyper Island, Manchester within our Startup module. Our random team of five (Hannah, Izzy, James, Francesco and me) called “Why Not?” brainstormed about different industries that should be disrupted. Our choice stopped on the funeral industry.


  • few digital startups are launched in this industry;
  • challenging a delicate topic;
  • we are all clients in the 21st century even though we don’t always think of ourselves as such;
  • the mindset of the people known as “millennials” disrupts main industries. So what about the funeral industry?

Following the mission How to bring the funeral industry into the 21st century our team created the Circle of life concept. It combines both the physical and digital experience — a Memorium and a Digital platform — which inspires people to celebrate their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

A Memorium

Helps to experience all the memories in a beautiful respectful way and increase awareness of death. Memories will be display in public and private spaces with digital medium. They will be downloaded from a Digital platform Circle.

A Memorium’s prototype

A Memorium is surrounded by nature with spaces for cremated. We planned to attract designers, creative peoples to rethink graves using nature elements — trees, stones, different plants — and to present different innovative views at the special Exhibition to inspire people.

A Digital platform

Helps to create a profile and decide how people want to be remembered in a Memorium. Also it presents different designer’s vision of natural graves around the Memorium.

A Digital platform’s prototype

Circle brand

Our Logo is a circle. It is dynamic, so the background will change because this should underline the idea of change & individuality. Our Tagline is “celebrate your life” because this is what we want to achieve — we want to challenge the approach towards the subject of death.

As a brand there is a whole mood we want to transfer. We feel it pure, minimalistic, modern, inspirational, open and bright. We speak to our target group in a personal, open and inspirational way.

Circle Logo’s prototype

I’m proud to say that Circle won the prize Hyper Island Startup of the Year.

Why Nots: Natalia, Hannah, Francesco, Izzy, James.

By the end of Startup module the concept included Idea & Concept Development: market research, trend analysis and insights, value proposition, branding & communication strategy, business model canvas. The prototype testing showed the positive feedback and mostly characterized Circle as a disruptive concept and socially valuable project.

On December 19th we finished our full-time program and moved to an individual thesis — an Industry Based Research Project.

I decided to take our concept and develop it within my thesis: “How can a disruptive startup be developed successfully during its early stage. Circle of Life Case Study”.

We didn’t have time to explore how to create a life story for the Circle Digital Platform and how to engage people to share their stories; in other words how to be remembered in the 21st century. Therefore I started developing an idea with focus on remembrance in order to gain insights and define a problem.

Circle of Life

This concept on how to bring funerals into the 21st century was developed within my thesis on How can a disruptive startup be developed better during its early stages. Hyper Island, UK, 2015.

Natalia Shipilova

Written by

Life and Innovation driven. Digital Strategist / Concept Developer. E: nvshipilova@gmail.com

Circle of Life

This concept on how to bring funerals into the 21st century was developed within my thesis on How can a disruptive startup be developed better during its early stages. Hyper Island, UK, 2015.

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