North firm brings digital revolution to death industry

Plotbox provides cloud-based service described as ‘Google Maps for graves’

Seán and Leona McAllister: “we’ve had inquiries from places such as Australia, Sweden and Italy for our services”

Seán and Leona McAllister: “we’ve had inquiries from places such as Australia, Sweden and Italy for our services”

 

Plotbox, a Co Antrim-based start-up that has developed software which has been described as “Google Maps for graves”, has raised $1.2 million (€923,200) in seed funding to expand in the UK and US.

The company, which was established by husband-and-wife team Seán and Leona McAllister in 2011, provides a cloud-based software service that enables cemeteries and crematoriums to easily pinpoint burial plots.

Investors in the funding round include Techstart NI and 7 Percent Ventures.

“We received the funding from a nice mix of angel investors and venture capitalists based in Northern Ireland, London, San Francisco and New York,” said Leona McAllister.

“Most of the investment will be put into staff as we build out our team, which includes taking on more sales and marketing people and more tech staff to help us with our technology roadmap.”

The McAllisters, who have a background in engineering and surveying, came up with the idea for their business when they were asked to do a mapping project for a local cemetery. The firm initially mapped over 200 graveyards in Ireland before expanding to the UK and the US.

Plotbox, which employs 18, is shortlisted in the emerging category in the 2016 EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards.

Key contracts

“Our focus is firmly on North America at the moment, which we feel has a lot of potential for us. We want to get things right first there and then we can replicate the model elsewhere,” said Sean McAllister.

“We’ve had inquiries from places such as Australia, Sweden and Italy for our services, and Plotbox is essentially a global product because across the world people are being buried and cremated. While there are different rules and regulations at play in other markets, ultimately its the same processes involved so we can easily see ourselves expanding further afield at some point.”

Plotbox said while there are a number of competitors, few if any have mapping systems that were fit for purpose.

“We can confidently say that we can map cemeteries faster than anyone else in the world, and our solution is the most accurate product available,” said Ms McAllister.