Eugene Tan, Founder of Empathy FS, Embodies the True Meaning of Empathy

“Hey Eugene, we have a patient who has just passed on…but we’re not able to contact their next-of-kin. Are you able to take on this case pro bono?”, a nurse from Orange Valley Nursing Home asked during a phone call. 

28-year-old Eugene Tan, the founder of Empathy FS, readily agreed to conduct the wake free of charge. 

Such pro-bono funeral services are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Eugene’s expertise and experience as a visionary entrepreneur in the funeral industry. 

Providing Comfort and Dignity Pro Bono 

20-year-old Eugene at a client’s funeral procession

With over 8 years of experience in the sector, Eugene understands the importance of providing comfort and dignity to individuals and their families during the often difficult process of saying goodbye. 

“The way I was brought up, if we are able to do something for others, why not do it? In fact, my father actually runs a temple in Singapore where a lot of things are done pro bono,” confided Eugene. “That’s where I got the inspiration to do things the same way at Empathy to help the less fortunate.” 

The kind-hearted founder also explained that it was easier for them to do so because of the operational set-up in his company. 

“At Empathy FS, I’m not just the funeral director with a team of full-time staff. I also own a casket company and perform undertaking duties alongside my employees. Because we carry out all aspects of a funeral service in-house, it’s easier for us to manage the costs in the event of a pro-bono funeral.” 

In this way, Eugene and his team not only eases the financial burden but also ensures that every deceased person receives a proper farewell, regardless of their circumstances. 

He regularly provides pro bono services to institutions that care for the elderly and the sick, like Orange Valley Nursing Home and St. Luke’s Hospital. Many residents and patients in these facilities may have limited financial resources or support systems, making end-of-life preparations a daunting challenge. 

Humble Beginnings 

A monk overseeing the rites for an infant loss funeral service 

Eugene’s unconventional journey as a funeral director began when he joined the industry at the tender age of 20. 

Starting in a small, one-man company, he was tasked with handling everything from sales and funeral arrangements to maintaining crucial supplier relationships. 

Little did he know that these early experiences would lay the foundation for his future success. 

At 23, with a vision in mind and support from his father’s friend, Eugene founded Entrust FS Pte Ltd, aimed at providing comprehensive funeral solutions. 

This bold move marked the beginning of his journey as a funeral entrepreneur. 

In just a year, he transformed the business into a formidable force, handling an impressive average of 15 cases per month and outperforming his former employer. 

“I constantly try to come up with innovative ideas that will benefit the bereaved families because I understand that there are certain things that can be done better,” explained the experienced founder. 

“For example, I kickstarted the trend of bringing things in-house to keep costs low for my clients. This also allowed me the financial flexibility to give greater incentives to my workers while making a small profit.” 

According to Eugene, other industry players soon followed suit to reap the win-win benefits for clients, employees, and employers. 

His dedication and passion were already evident, setting the stage for what would come next. 

But it was not without its share of challenges, as Eugene experienced financial setbacks and partnership disputes. Nevertheless, his unwavering determination and resilience shone through. 

Empathy FS Pte Ltd: A New Beginning 

Undeterred by the hurdles he had encountered at Entrust FS, Eugene rebounded with the new company he founded at Empathy FS Pte Ltd, garnering support from former Entrust employees. 

As Empathy FS became synonymous with handling various types of funerals, the company emerged as a top funeral service provider in Singapore within a mere two years. 

After garnering a foothold in the B2B sector, Eugene expanded his focus to the B2C market in recent years. 

“I speak English, yes, but I also speak Hokkien well,” quipped the affable founder. “At Empathy FS, we are professional but also relatable to our customers. Think of us as your neighbourhood funeral brand for the everyday Singaporean.” 

His vision is clear: Provide modern, affordable funeral services for the masses while respecting local customs. And he does this really well, by catering his services to different kinds of religions, from Buddhism and Taoism to Christianity and Roman Catholicism. 

The Heart-Wrenching Reality About Stillbirths 

An empty infant casket filled with baby clothes and soft toys

Every funeral is hard enough on the bereaved. But perhaps one of the most heart-wrenching of all is a baby memorial service. 

“We do get calls for infant loss ceremonies in the event of a stillbirth or a miscarriage,” Eugene shared quietly. “Oftentimes, it’s equally hard on both the mother, who is usually still hospitalised and recovering from surgery, and the father, who has to plan and carry out the logistics for the funeral.” 

Being a parent himself, Eugene deeply empathises with clients like this and goes out of his way to show compassion for them. 

Eugene buys baby clothes from Kiddy Palace for a baby funeral

“Usually, the service encompasses the usual stuff like providing an empty casket and casket transport. But I’ll choose to do more than that,” the 28-year-old explained. “In cases like this, I’ll go to Kiddy Palace to buy some baby stuff, such as soft toys and bottles. If I know the gender of the child, I’ll customise the gifts accordingly.” 

Not Just Hustling, It’s Also Having a Heart for Empathy 

In a world often characterised by hustle and ambition, Eugene’s story reminds us of the profound impact that simple acts of generosity and compassion can have on the human spirit. 

Through his acts of kindness, Eugene inspires change in the local funeral industry and has left an indelible mark on the community he serves. His empathetic nature not only helps the less fortunate, but is also ingrained in the very fabric of Empathy FS. 

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