Death, being as unavoidable as taxes, is big business. The death care industry in the US alone is estimated at $20bn. But as with many traditional industries, there is a general lack of tech savvy and resourcing that could offer opportunities for innovation. One of the competitors in the INVENT Top 12 this year has developed a tech upgrade for cemeteries and crematoria everywhere.
Plotbox provides software-as-a-service to make life easier for the death industry. All the disparate data points in the process of managing a business like a cemetery can be connected in one place, accessed through an intuitive interface. The key strength of the product is geolocation. Each individual burial plot can be placed on an interactive map, and linked to all its associated information, such as family names, appointments and financial transactions. Pulling all this information into one system should benefit a wider audience than just those in the death care industry, providing services for genealogy researchers, and softening the process of managing a family bereavement.
The Plotbox team is built on experience in engineering and surveying, which took them into working with local cemeteries. Witnessing the disconnected, mostly paper-based systems used by the smaller parishes, the administrative problem started to emerge. The team developed a service that took all the disparate paper files, photos, Excel spreadsheets and other data sources, and combined them in a cloud-based service. Then, as they worked with ever-larger cemetery sites, where burials happen several times a day, it became clear that the complexity of management just got worse. Their research suggests that this problem is global and there isn’t yet a comprehensive solution.
Adoption of the service has partly been driven by the flexibility offered by Plotbox. A small parish with very limited resources can still get started simply by sending its paper files to the team for ingestion into the online system. Over time, they can add further services, such as hiring the team to conduct an aerial survey of the site, typically by remote-controlled drone.
Recent months have seen a lot of activity for Plotbox. Racing through different startup support programmes has already won them a lot of attention and a week in San Francisco. They’re in the process of expanding the team, particularly on the tech side, including a hunt for a CTO. They have been building-out the board and getting involved in investment discussions. By expanding through the UK and ROI, and into the biggest market in the US, Plotbox hopes to take its specialism in the field to becoming the industry-leading solution.