From the August 2000 issue of Startups

You're all familiar with the figure of Death- eternal, faceless hunter garbed in black, clutching his ancient sickle. Known as the media generation, Gen X has been drilled with countless images of death. Is it any wonder, then, that young entrepreneurs have grown comfortable surrounding themselves with the nature of death, revealing a progressive openness not seen with past generations?

Todd Michael Krim, for instance, ventured into the macabre when he founded his West Hollywood, California, company, FinalThoughts.com Inc., in 1999. The world's first free posthumous e-mail service, FinalThoughts.com allows you to leave personal messages of all kinds: sentimental thoughts for loved ones, instructions on how you want your funeral arranged, who gets to adopt your pet python...you get the idea. "When people hear about [my company], they immediately assume it's morbid, scary and dark," the 31-year-old Krim explains. "But death isn't scary; it isn't dark. It's natural."

With the majority of members' ages falling below 37, Krim believes his company has assisted in raising awareness of death in his generation. "Gen Xers are generally fascinated with death," he explains. "They want to learn and talk about everything- is taboo." In the future, Krim intends to create additional services, including online funeral broadcasts. "[FinalThoughts.com] is a resource for people," he says, "but it's also a reminder that we're all 'doing time.' "

And once your time has passed, hopefully you'll be fortunate enough to rest in the capable hands of Tom

Robinson, founder of the Eternal Flame Crematorium in Brattleboro, Vermont. Robinson, 27, originally worked at a cemetery. After realizing that he was able to deal with the morbid nature of the job, Robinson decided to channel his abilities into his own business.

If you can handle it and want to know exactly when you're going to kick the bucket, check out the Death Clock. The site estimates the date of your imminent demise. Just type in the requested information, then wait for Death's sickle.

Contact Source

Eternal Flame Crematorium, (802) 254-3508, www.eternalflame-cremation.com.