Like it or not, death is a fact of life. And as such, it’s also the inspiration for a lot of successful (albeit unusual) business ventures. Whether it’s launching human remains into space or finding new ways to get rid of all those pesky human corpses, these businesses have a unique take on life’s final journey.
Here are seven businesses that cater to the uncommon needs of the dead:
Murder scene maids
You’ve heard there’s no use crying over spilled milk, but what’s the consensus on spilled blood? If the idea of mopping up gore makes your eyes water (or worse), don’t worry: There’s a business you can call to tidy up even the bloodiest of messes.
Baxter Restoration, a cleaning and reconstruction company in Orlando, Fla., does something your average maid won’t: It cleans up after the Grim Reaper. Whether it’s a crime scene, the aftermath of a suicide or the remains of an exploded meth lab, Baxter will disinfect, decontaminate and leave things looking less macabre.
Industry insiders refer to such sluicing down of blood and brains as “biohazard” cleanup. And while this unusual service makes some people squirm, it’s reassuring to know that there’s someone you can call to perform this most unpleasant of chores.
Leaving behind a hefty inheritance for family members to squabble over is a nice gesture. But what if you want to bequeath something more meaningful than money? There’s an app for that.
Your Last Will is an iPhone app developed by former video game publisher and entrepreneur, Wolfgang Gabler. The app lets users prepare for the hereafter by recording a short video with a final message for those they’ll one day leave behind.
Have some words of wisdom for your children? Want to specify that your big sister is still not allowed to borrow your favorite sweater? Whatever your final words, the app lets you record them in a five-minute video, which is then uploaded to the company’s servers.
Your Last Will then generates a QR code for you to share with a trusted confidant who can sign into your account after your demise and distribute your video to friends, family, archenemies, old flings and whomever else you choose to haunt. You can even make your will public and inspire (or sadden) the entire Internet. [10 Odd But Successful Business Ideas]
A company that lets you send messages from beyond the grave is one thing, but a business that facilitates the sending of messages directly from your grave is quite another.
Invented and patented by Robert Barrows, the president of an advertising and public relations firm in California, the “video-enhanced grave marker” is a tombstone for the modern age. Embedded with a remote-controlled video screen, this high-tech memorial caters to those unwilling to go quietly into the hereafter.
As Barrows explains on his website, the invention allows people to record messages for family, friends and even complete strangers before dying. Once the person is six feet under, these messages are broadcast right in the cemetery. Mourners can just sit back, relax and enjoy the show!
Barrows envisions a future in which graveyard visitors will pay a fee (headset included) to wander from grave to grave, listening to the dark secrets and final advice of lost love ones, as well as dead strangers.
Sure, you eat organic apples and have sworn off plastic shopping bags, but will your green lifestyle die when you do? That’s the question this next business wants you to consider before it’s too late.
The Natural Burial Company is an online retail and consulting business that sells biodegradable coffins, caskets, urns and other funeral goodies for eco-conscious mortals. The business aims to facilitate the natural burial process for those who take the whole “dust to dust” thing literally.
To that end, the company sells goods such as the “Everybody” Coffin Kit, a biodegradable cork coffin that you can put together in your living room. Talk about a fun do-it-yourself project! The company’s online retail store also features a line of products for pets, including a biodegradable urn in the shape of a yarn ball for the eco-minded (but aging) feline in your life.
If you want to be cremated but aren’t sold on the idea of being hoisted onto a conveyor belt and pushed into a giant oven, then this next business is for you. Anderson McQueen Funeral Home in St. Petersburg, Fla., specializes in a new kind of cremation that utilizes water, not fire, to dispose of human bodies.
The process is known as alkali hydrolysis, or “flameless cremation,” and while it sounds less scary than its fiery cousin, the end result is much the same. In this process, the body is soaked in a tub of water and alkali for a few hours. Resulting in 75 percent lower carbon emissions than traditional cremation, flameless cremation is marketed to those looking for a greener way to go.
This eco-friendly process is still in the early adoption phase and is only legal in a few states. But legislation is pending in many states that could bring this bizarre alternative into the mainstream.