9 Tech Startups That Help People Plan for, and Manage, Death – Business Insider

  • Startups are increasingly pursuing the estimated $128.8 billion end-of-life and funeral market.
  • These companies make chatbots of your loved ones and turn you into diamonds through cremation.
  • Here are nine startups working to change the funeral and end-of-life industries.

Though many people prefer not to think about dying, founders in the world of “deathtech” are challenging prospective customers to do just that.

For an industry that will reach all of us at some point, the business of death has been largely stagnant when it comes to innovation, these founders say.

“This is the biggest consumer industry that’s been untouched — not just by technology but by any kind of customer centricity,” said Dan Garrett, the founder of the UK estate-planning startup Farewill. “It isn’t because it’s technologically unfeasible. It’s because there is this kind of found human aversion to talking about and dealing with death.”

Justin Crowe, the founder of Parting Stone, puts it more bluntly. “Introducing a new idea to someone on what is one of the worst days of their life is not an easy thing to do,” he said. 

But the mass tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic combined with the rise of venture-capital investment across the startup ecosystem has led to a new wave of interest in the space. A report from the market-research firm Global Industry Analysts estimates that the global “death care services” market will reach $128.8 billion this year and is steadily growing in the US and elsewhere.

Over the past two years, dozens of companies have popped up in the US and Europe seeking to help people cope with the loss of a loved one or manage their own future death. Some of the startups focus on administrative tasks of planning like writing a will. Others are a bit more out of the ordinary. For instance, the startup Parting Stone compresses cremated ashes into kiln-fired “memory stones,” and human-composting startups like Recompose seek to turn the body of customers’ loved one into nutrient-rich soil that can be used for a memory garden.

Many founders of deathtech companies thought of their startup ideas after experiencing loss. HereAfter AI’s James Vlahos was slowly losing his father to cancer, so he built “Dadbot,” an interactive chatbot designed to learn from hours of recordings of his dad’s memories and stories. Building Dadbot inspired his startup, which makes chatbots of people who have died based on their texts, letters, and voice recordings. 

Adelle Archer of Eterneva lost a close friend to pancreatic cancer and wanted to find a new way to carry her friend’s memory that wasn’t just a traditional urn or plaque. “For a big, beautiful, amazing life to be reduced to a trinket just didn’t feel meaningful,” Archer said. She developed a way to compress cremated ashes into custom-colored lab diamonds that can become jewelry pieces — and ended up building a startup that has raised millions.

Insider rounded up nine deathtech startups worth watching in 2022 from different sectors across the industry. Read on for the full list.

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