With more possessions than ever before, we’re only more likely to lose things these days. Whether it’s your keys, wallet, bag or even suitcase – keeping a track of your valuable items is an ongoing job in itself. But as technology and location services have become more advanced, thankfully, developers are discovering ways to keep tabs on our items using apps and devices, making it much more difficult to lose them.
Enter TrackR, a startup company specialising in just that. We spoke to Christian Smith, Trackr’s President and Co-Founder, to find out more about how Trackr works and where the idea came from.
Let’s start by describing in your words what your company is and what it does?
The TrackR platform and product suite redefine personal organisation by automating the task of remembering the location of everyday items.
What do you think makes it distinct to any other companies – what’s its USP?
TrackR’s robust platform allows you to create your own network of instantly searchable and shareable items. Integration with voice search – like Amazon Alexa-enabled devices – adds value immediately. Getting back lost items is automatic and anonymous, thanks to TrackR’s crowd-sourced technology, Crowd Locate, which helps find over 2 million lost items every day.
What is your personal background?
I grew up in the midwest and then moved to California, I was able to go to UC Santa Barbara for university, and I made friends with the people who were either scientists or engineers. But it was a crew of engineers who skateboarded and surfed. That’s where I met my co-founder Chris. We lived in the same dorm. We surfed together then worked together. Surfing came first. We’d stay up late to do our physics homework then get up early to hit the beach.
What inspired you to start the company?
One weekend, Chris and I went up to Pismo Beach, and what’s special is that you can drive across the sand to park. We met up with some friends there to surf, later when we returned to the parked car we couldn’t find the keys. We realised that the car was parked below the high tide line and the car would be submerged if we couldn’t get it moved. We basically tore up the car’s seats searching and were lucky to find someone nearby with a metal detector to come help us work out where the keys were buried.
After this experience, we set out to create a device that would not only keep track of our keys, but everything we owned.
What is the story of the company from launch until now? How big is the company now?
We submitted the idea to a business plan competition. This was after the iPhone but prior to the App Store, so people with flip phones didn’t get that phones were software. We lost the competition the first year but won it when we resubmitted for the second year, coincidentally after the iPhone got big.
Then we moved into a house with a garage to work on the concept, and this was back when Blackberry Curve had 70% market share. From there we were able to launch a basic product to display at CES in 2009. As we got more and more interest from press, and corporates we launched the company after winning the Demo God award. We really began to scale in 2013 launched our own Indiegogo campaign right after the Lockitron guys, we took what the Lockitron guys had been doing and made our crowdfunding platform. We knew the risks of not delivering, but we had a final prototype ready to go.
Today, TrackR is sold in over 5,000 retail doors worldwide and we have 80 employees.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far in your company?
Scaling the company to keep up with growth has been a challenge. We have been able to overcome those challenges through open lines of communication with the team members and developing clear processes.
What’s your biggest milestone/ which are you most proud of?
Finishing off 2016 ahead of forecast.
What is your business model? How have you monetised your product?
TrackR is a very giftable product. Most of our customers buy multiple devices with the intention of gifting some of them. We have been able to monetize our product through multi-pack orders.
What’s the next step for growth – is the intention to grow the business independently, or look for an exit via acquisition or similar?
We intend to continue to grow the business independently through online and retail channels as well as through our works with TrackR and corporate sales programs
Will you be looking for more funding?
Not at this time.