Sometimes it's better to go after a niche market. In honor of Halloween, we identified 7 spooky startups, from on-demand astrology to robots for reviving dead fish.
In the spirit of Halloween, we used the CB Insights platform to surface 7 creepy companies offering products and services from the spookier end of the spectrum — ranging from professional ash-scattering to demonic small-batch booze and beyond. Way beyond.
And if you want some sweeter Halloween content, check out our market map of investor-backed candy brands disrupting trick-or-treat.
Type: Medical equipment & supplies
Hospitals and medical schools have traditionally relied on human cadavers or live animals for training and surgical simulations. Syndaver, however, offers bleeding, breathing “synthetic humans” composed of artificial muscles, bones, organs, veins, and arteries to serve as highly realistic training tools.
SynDaver raised a $3M round in 2015 from angel investor and Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec.
Designed for commercial or recreational fisherman, Zombait promises to “bring dead bait back to life.” The company produces an electronic lure that can be stuffed into a dead bait fish’s mouth, where it then makes the dead fish waggle back and forth. This creates the illusion of a live, injured fish struggling in the water — attracting larger fish to catch.
Each Zombait boasts a 3+ hour battery life and durable, corrosion-resistant construction.
Based in Salem, Massachusetts (of witch trials fame), Deacon Giles is a micro-distillery offering a variety of spirits. The startup takes its name from a local 19th century businessman who allegedly employed demons as a surrogate workforce after all his human employees quit.
In line with the recent surge of consumer and investor interest in craft spirits, Deacon Giles produces a range of artisanal, small-batch “damn righteous spirits,” including its Original Gin and Liquid Damnation Rum.
Founded by entrepreneur Jack Davis and horror auteur Eli Roth in 2015, Crypt Holdings (dba CryptTV) spreads the message #WeirdisGood through its mobile-friendly, short-form original content featuring monsters, horror stories, and more. The message seems to be getting across, as Crypt Holdings raised a $6.2M Series A in March 2018 from Blumhouse Productions and NBC Universal, bringing its total funding to $11M.
Type: Mobile app
A lifestyle brand for the “cosmically curious,” Sanctuary Ventures texts subscribers daily horoscopes written by professional astrologers (and “not some algorithm”). Sanctuary investors include Greycroft Partners, which participated in a $1.55M seed round in 2017.
Type: Funerary services
With the help of a patented “automated Scattering Urn,” AngelAire offers a controlled, professional approach to scattering human cremains by releasing the ash “over a 3-minute duration in an elegant cloud.” Available in 4 wooden veneers, consumers and funerary homes can acquire an AngelAire Release Urn through a 1-week rental, 1-year lease, or a one-time $2,999 purchase.
Type: Mobile app
Headquartered in the tech mecca of Shenzhen, China, Soul Reader provides a platform for real-time tarot readings, as well as access to private consultations with emotional experts and astrologers. The startup raised a $1.5M Series A last year.
While we’re yet to see the rise of astrology-as-a-service, some enterprising startups have been scouring the stars to help connect potential lovers, while Cambridge Analytica infamously pulled data on astrological beliefs to help gauge people’s susceptibility to psychological manipulation.