The deathtech sector is currently valued at over £100 billion – death being inevitable means that the market is massive, and still growing. There are services available targeted at the post death era in addition to those which help people to prepare for the worst. Just 5 years ago, the death space was hardly untouched as other sectors such as health were progressing rapidly, however this situation now appears to be flipped on its head.
Many startups are now looking to disrupt the sector entirely, providing solutions to problems regarding end of life planning, funerals and asset management. Solutions offered by these companies are both functional and emotional, and help ease the end of life stage for many. These solutions help to make difficult times that little bit less stressful, more affordable, and less daunting.
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Founder(s): Sean & Leona McAllister
PlotBox is a cloud-based deathcare management solution designed for cemeteries, crematories, and funeral homes, enabling them to operate to world-class standards. PlotBox is unique and significantly superior because it is the world’s first solution to fully integrate two previously separate functions – software and mapping – to create game-changing scalable tech for the deathcare sector. The number and scope of problems this innovation solves revolutionises the way deathcare facilities both operate and grow, changing the landscape of deathcare forever.
Headquartered in Northern Ireland, with offices throughout the United States and Australia, the growing team of over 80 across the globe collaborated on a journey to make PlotBox the solution of choice for the death care industry worldwide. The unique innovation has helped hundreds of businesses find unknown inventory, identify risk and increase operational efficiencies up to 80%.
The company mission at PlotBox is to help take away some of the pain around the process of dealing with death for the bereaved and those that serve them. The partnerships with PlotBox have been particularly crucial during the pandemic which has seen the company double its growth in 2021. As well as customer centricity, Founders Sean & Leona McAllister have a strong focus on company culture, which has been validated by PlotBox being awarded Great Place To Work certification for the second year in a row.
The startup also peaked investors interest, receiving investment from the ex-founder led early stage fund, 7percent Ventures.
Founder(s): Nick & Krista Baum
Storyworth was founded in the autumn of 2012 by Nick and Krista Baum. The duo wanted to make it really easy for Nick’s father to record his own memories, and that is where the premise for the business came from. They launched their business in the April of 2013, and Storyworth is now used by families all around the country and the world.
The aim of Storyworth is to help its users feel more connected to their loved ones, allowing them to record and then share stories with one another on a weekly basis. In addition to this, the stories being recorded means that memories made and shared are preserved, and can therefore be passed onto future generations. Future generations can then learn more about their ancestors, grow closer and bond over their pasts.
There is a library full of questions which can be used as samples, for families to ask one another and read their responses. They can be shared via email, and there is the option to create a book of memories which can be kept, passed on and cherished.
8. Tomorrow Biostasis
Founder(s): Emil Kendziorra & Fernando Azevedo Pinheiro
Tomorrow Biostasis is a deathtech company which was founded in 2019 in Berlin by Dr. Emil Kendziorra. Tomorrow Biostasis is currently very active within the digital health sector and is focusing on advancement and education in the biostasis space. This German company offers cryopreservation to people who have died.
Anyone is able to sign up for a fee to be cryogenically frozen, with the possibility that one day they may be able to be resuscitated. Through increasing knowledge surrounding the concept of biostasis with cryopreservation, this deathtech startup is hoping that science will one day be able to extend life, allowing people to return to life after death.
The Tomorrow Biostasis team are aiming to continually invest within their research and development projects, prioritising the optimisation of cryoprotectant solutions, improving in field cryoprotection procedures, and finally securely cryopreserving and rewarming entire complex organisms.
The team also want to reduce the cost of cryopreservation which is currently considered to be rather costly due to the lack of benefit from scaling effects – only a couple of hundred people have ever been cryopreserved globally. By making this process more mainstream and raising awareness, the team hope this should bring down the cost and therefore increase the accessibility.
Founder(s): Vicky Wilson
Settld launched its pioneering, free nationwide bereavement notification service to the public last year.
Settld allows bereaved families and individuals to notify multiple companies of a death in one go, including leading banks, building societies, credit card and insurance companies, utility, mobile phone, social media, subscription services and many more.
In addition to notifying service providers, Settld’s online B2C service also enables customers to close, transfer or amend their loved one’s accounts and, uniquely, obtain date of death balances for probate.
The business, with headquarters in Sunderland, was founded by CEO Vicky Wilson following the death of her grandmother in 2019, when Vicky and her mother Julie spent more than six hours on the phone to individual service providers notifying them of her death, over and over again.
All communication with service providers is streamlined through a single channel and tracked on a secure online dashboard which can be accessed by users at any time. Settld’s growing B2B service improves operational efficiency for enterprise customers, who benefit from Settld’s bespoke online portal.
The business consistently gets 5-star reviews from customers, who appreciate the one-stop shop nature of Settld’s automated service, and who receive regular updates on progress from the customer service team who handle cases through to account closure.
CEO Vicky Wilson said: “We have made incredible progress over the last year with a small and dedicated team. We are proud to be making a substantial, positive difference to the lives of our bereaved customers.”
Settld has won high profile recognition in recent months. It was selected for Techstars21 and Barclays EagleLabs accelerator programmes, is one of Tech Nation’s Rising Stars, was named a Rising Star at the Northern Tech Awards and featured at Lisbon Web Summit. Settld is expected to seek Series A funding this year.
Founder(s): Stephen Moses
Zenplans is a software company designed to help accountants, financial advisers and solicitors create digital estate plans for their clients. Our aim is to help solve the growing challenges that our paperless society – and growing digital footprints – are presenting for estate planning and probate.
Stephen came up with the idea for Zenplans when he was helping his father get his affairs in order. Trying to consolidate all the information when he was there with him was hard enough, which made him realise what an impossible task it must be for those who have lost a loved one and are left trying to piece everything together, with no real way of knowing exactly what the person had, let alone how to find it all.
The whole experience made him realise that without proper planning, there is now a real risk that when someone loses capacity or passes away, that details of their assets and other vital information will become invisible or inaccessible to their executors, attorneys and beneficiaries.
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Founder(s): Nick Cousins & Aleks Tomczyk
Exizent, a ‘tech for good’ business, was founded by Nick Cousins and Aleks Tomczyk in 2019. Impacted by their own experiences with bereavement, their mission was to help people at the most difficult time in their lives, by improving the bereavement experience for everyone involved.
Cousins and Tomczyk were inspired to found the business after being impacted by their own experiences with bereavement, convinced there must be a better way in this era of digitised services and increased access to data.
The estate administration experience can be lengthy, repetitive and overly complicated, made all the more challenging by the emotional turmoil of the loss itself. The process is admin-heavy for all parties, including professionals within law firms helping the bereaved, as well as financial institutions, which leads to a knock-on effect for their clients.
To overcome these challenges, Exizent’s cloud-based technology digitises the estate administration and probate process. Exizent enables professional users to capture all estate information in easy-to-navigate cases, add relevant personal details, assets and liabilities, upload supporting documents, and use a range of data searches to populate missing information that helps produce key outputs like court and IHT forms to ultimately settle an estate.
Exizent is also making the process easier for institutions like banks to provide a better experience for the notifiers of a death. Connecting the data and services used by legal services firms, institutions and executors to sort out what’s required to make the journey for the bereaved an easier one.
Just two years since launch, the Exizent platform is becoming an integral part of the bereavement landscape – helping to reduce uncertainty and the time taken to resolve a case, while making the process more straightforward to reduce the burden on those grieving.
Founder(s): Dan Garrett & Tom Rogers
Farewill is an online will writing service, making it both easier and faster for people to write up their legal testament.
Launched in 2015, Farewill offers its clients an easy-to-use platform to write up their will. The business has a superb legal team of will specialists and solicitors, who have now written over 30,000 wills. Farewill’s goal is to change the way people deal with and manage the issues surrounding death, offering straightforward wills at affordable prices that can be both easily accessed and updated.
Farewill was created out of co-founder Dan Garrett’s frustration in how people “deal with death”. Whilst working on a building project for nursing homes in Tokyo, death soon became a part of Garrett’s working-day life. Although death became somewhat of a norm for the co-founder, he soon realised that whilst people were dying, no one was talking about it.
Farewill has impressive backing from some of the biggest investors in Europe; including Wonga’s Errol Damelin and Zoopla’s Alex Chesterman, and has become the largest UK will writer, predicted to be writing 1 in every 10 wills throughout the country by the end of the year (2019).
3. Capsula Mundi
Founder(s): Anna Citelli & Raoul Bretzel
Capsula Mundi is a cultural and broad-based project which is envisioning a new approach to how death is considered. The company has created an egg-shaped pod which is completely biodegradable, which loved ones can be paced inside after they have died. The pods are available in various sizes, meaning that ashes can be held in the smaller urns and bodies can be lain in larger pods.
After this has taken place, each Capsula can be planted in the earth as a seed.A tree chosen by the deceased can then be planted directly above the pod. This tree will then grow to serve as a memory of the deceased and will simultaneously benefit the planet. Cemeteries will also no longer appear grey, as they will have vibrant trees planted throughout in place of gravestones. This innovative approach to death allows loved ones to cherish memories of the deceased through caring for the tree which has been planted in their memory.
Whilst many people worldwide are interested in this idea, the company have currently had to create a petition to legalise the Capsula in countries such as Italy. Some countries prohibit the use of the Capsula for religious reasons, however this is not the case in Canada or the US where the concept of reducing carbon footprints even after death is appealing to many.
Website: https://asset-vault.com/en/, https://aasaanwill.com/
Founder(s): Vishnu Teja
AssetVault is a Techstars backed London HQ Fintech. Five years ago, the founder’s uncle passed away without a will and testament and Vishnu (Founder and CEO) saw the trouble that his family had to go through to figure out where all the assets were. Subsequently, it led to an ugly and avoidable family dispute. Their mission is to protect your assets today and tomorrow.
Everyone works very hard to acquire assets-home, car, bank accounts, gold, insurance policies etc. However, many fail to take the time to protect and grow them. Did you know that $30T of wealth is transferring between baby boomers and millennials in the next 3 decades in just the US alone? The instrument of that transfer is a will and testament. In the UK, 60% of consumers do not have a will and over 90% of those with Wills have not updated them. This is an even bigger opportunity in India.
Covid has given us all a new perspective on our priorities. Death has been brought into our collective consciousness. We have witnessed a 70% increase in demand for wills driven by millennials. AssetVault have successfully identified moments in people’s lives where they list all their assets, and help them write these assets to the blockchain.
They tokenise the assets to help customers transact assets via a blockchain marketplace. All the data is encrypted at rest and in motion. They are the only will provider that went through the UK’s FCA sandbox, and have a strong IP position with patent-pending technology on digital witnessing and blockchain wills.
AssetVault have catalogued over $1.5 B worth of insurable assets in the UK. Projects are delivered with UBS, and other leading banks. In 2022, they expanded their consumer wills product to India under the brand of AasaanWill.
1. Guardian Angel
Founder(s): Sam Grice
Guardian Angel was founded in order to help people plan for death, and make the processes which follow easier for loved ones.
In December, Guardian Angel’s founder Sam sadly lost his mother Whilst he had great support from those around him, he found it difficult to manage events such as the funeral and wake. This experience gave him the inspiration to create his own business: Guardian Angel. Guardian Angel is an online service which is both private and secure, designed to help those who have just suffered a loss through the toughest parts.
DeathTech Guardian Angel exists to ease the process after death. Many people have not planned for their own death, meaning it can be difficult for loved ones to make arrangements whilst grieving. The company has created the first online consolidated death planning tool, and helps ease every aspect including life insurance, wills and post-death support.
Based in both London and Manchester, the company has now successfully closed £1.1 million in an early seed funding round, meaning that the company’s total funding is now up to £1.6million. Guardian Angel currently has around 100 different partners responsible for the distribution of their services, including some of the country’s largest charities, funeral directors and employers.