Garrett Ozar, a 2009 graduate with a degree in entrepreneurship, took managerial skills and confidence gained from the Innovation Leadership and Entrepreneurship Program in the College of Business, to start a success story.
"Our mission is to change our culture's perspective on death, grief and remembering remarkable loved ones..."
He is the cofounder of Eterneva, an Austin, Texas, based company started in 2017 that takes ashes from cremated remains, isolates the carbon and, with heat and pressure, creates diamonds as an everlasting keepsake.
“Western was integral for me to have the proper foundation to be a good entrepreneur,” he says. “Looking back, I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to nurture my two passions, baseball and entrepreneurship, while at WCU. Without a doubt, if you ever are looking to own or start your own business, and you are debating on a major, there is only one choice: Entrepreneurship.”
Garrett explains the business began after research into synthetic diamonds and a serendipitous meeting with a scientist who provided key information on extracting carbon from ashes or hair.
“My business partner Adelle Archer had just lost her friend and mentor to cancer, and was looking to do something special with her remains,” he says. “Adelle looked into starting the process with another company, but didn't feel comfortable. We decided that we could do this on our own, ensuring that our goal was to provide our customer with an experience they have never had with any company before.”
With permission, each person memorialized in an Eterneva diamond also has a photo added to a commemorative wall and their story shared with others.
“Our mission is to change our culture's perspective on death, grief and remembering remarkable loved ones,” Garrett says. “It’s an audacious mission, but we have the team and the strategy to make it happen. We are really looking forward to the next few years.”
Garrett also has a Shark Tank appearance to his credit. The TV show where savvy business investors take pitches from potential clients needing investment capital was an interesting experience for him and partner Archer, with billionaire Mark Cuban providing $600,000 for a nine percent stake of the company.
“Since the beginning, using principles learned at Western, we built our brand identity and mission to provide us a compass as we built out initiatives to scale out our business,” Garrett says. “I was so blessed to have the opportunity to have such influential business leaders as mentors and professors through WCU,” he says. “I’m grateful they are still there to this day and the program has blossomed even further than when I was there.”