Remember the USB flash drive? With all the different storage accounts available, with so many different mobile applications clamoring for attention, the handy little file-storage device doesn’t grab headlines very often these days. Gigmark Interactive Media may give everyone reason to pause before writing the flash drive off as a museum curiosity.
Based out of Knoxville, Tennessee, Gigmark gave the old flash drive another life by giving it a new brain. Their Interactive Flash Drive connects online to a system capable of analytic reports and content management. Instead of a staid, digital filing cabinet, their flash drive functions as a smart, two-way tool that enables businesses to alter content regardless of the drives location or who is using it. Since 2008, Gigmark’s product (patent pending) has seen sales climb to over $10 million in 2011.
Marketers might appreciate the genius of Gigmark’s drive best. They now have the means to deliver information quickly to customers without adding any real costs. Whether or not a user is online, companies can send out the latest news as well as retrieve data. Co-founder Rob Balchunas credits the drives appeal to an even more old school concept–the satisfaction of a product you can hold in your hand. “It can be branded,” he notes. “It can be manufactured to look like anything, so it can deliver a marketing concept.”
Another Knoxville company, Dura-Line, exemplifies the potential of Gigmark’s interactive drives. Dura-Line makes plastic pipes that protect cables, both fiber-optic and electrical. They wanted to eliminate their bulky and expensive paper catalogs but still have a physical product to put into clients hands, something that would deliver information and still carry the company’s brand. Gigmark designed a drive that resembled Dura-Line’s colorful piping. Using an app installed on the drive, Dura-Line customers can construct and send orders directly from the drive. 7,500 pipe-like flash drives helped put Gigmark on the map.
To build an intelligent flash drive, Balchunas first had to build a smart team. His idea came to him when he was working with a Los Angeles company that distributed USBs containing live concert recordings along with other promotional material. Despite losing an acceptance in a car accident, Blachunas eventually met with the owner of a marketing company, Parker Frost. The two flushed out the concept of the interactive drive and took their vision to Digital Media Graphix.
DMG, a Knoxville web and software development firm, had the technical wherewithal the duo lacked. DMG had experience crafting DVDs somewhat interactive as well as web browsing apps, but had never applied their technology to removable media. The collaboration between visionary salesmen, marketing, and design, resulted in the interactive flash drive.
Gigmark now has part ownership in Digital Media Graphix. In addition to helping dozens of organizations with the drive, they’re planning to release a platform that allows customers to create and customize an interactive flash drive on their own. Perhaps the USB renaissance is underway.