I was shocked last week when I asked a friend what I should do with a set of keys I’d found just outside the front door of my building, and I watched him take the keys from my hands and throw them in the garbage. “What can you do?” he said. “You don’t know whose they are, what building they belong to…” And he was right, I didn’t have an easy way to track down the unfortunate owner. If only RocketTags had been used.
RocketTags (found at www.rockettags.com) are small QR code stickers that make it easy to return lost and found items. They fit on anything, supplying a unique identification to all our valuables. If someone comes across a lost item, a quick smartphone scan or entry of the number online reveals the necessary contact info to return goods to their proper place. A subscription service keeps inventory of your tags. They can even be printed from home.
RocketTags provide a measure of personal security, not to mention, have enormous potential for businesses – the travel industry leaps to mind. No telling how much unclaimed stuff we’ve all dropped along the way and never seen again simply because there wasn’t an easy way to identify whom things belonged to or a convenient means to return lost items. Smart. Effective. And (forgive me) taking off. Founder and Director Tim Stephens tells us more:
When did the idea of RocketTags first come to you, and how did you go about getting started?
Terry (my business partner and co-founder of RocketTags) and I were on a holiday in the States, riding dirt bikes on the Trans America Trail from Denver to Seattle (a hobby we both enjoy outside of RocketTags).
My father was on the trip also, and the catalyst for the idea behind RocketTags was that fact that he misplaced not only his laptop computer on that trip but also his digital camera. These events sowed the seeds for what is now RocketTags.
We were very keen to develop a system that enabled people to increase the chances of being reunited with their valuables should they misplace or lose them. However, we wanted it to be a fast and efficient process for the finder. The last thing we wanted was to make it too onerous for them and for them to lose interest and not bother returning the item.
The other issue was that of aesthetics. We wanted a device or product that would sit in harmony with your valuables – it had to be small, look good, and attract attention but for the right reasons.
We researched a number of current and emerging technologies, and found that QR Code technology allowed us to achieve our objectives. So we have incorporated the technology into our system at a fundamental level.
QR Code technology allows the process of returning someone’s valuables to be nothing more than a quick scan of the RocketTag with your smart phone, and the inputting of your email address so they can contact you. It’s that simple, and it’s for this reason that it is very successful.
We will be the first to acknowledge we have competitors out there who are offering lost and found solutions, but none of them to date are harnessing the power of QR Code technology like we are, and making it work for our customers. We are very excited to have the world’s first QR Code-based, lost and found system.
When do your best ideas come to you? Lounging by the pool? During dinner? After working for 16 hours? While shooting hoops?
All the time really, I have a hard time switching off. When I have a project on the go like this one, I find it really absorbs me. I often have to remind myself that I have a day job that I also need to focus on.
We want to know about where you spend your day! What’s on your desk right now?
My day job is as an architect, working for a large multi disciplinary design firm. At the moment, I am working on a large infrastructure project as a design architect, but more importantly, we are focussing on some very exciting leads obtained from the recent INPEX Innovations trade show in Pittsburgh, USA.
Other than that, we are about to release a new version of our website as well as working on multi-language capability for it.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
There is just the two of us founding directors, but we also have a programming genius on board who has proven integral in developing the back end system that makes RocketTags tick.
Maybe you can share one anecdote that describes the joy or frustration you’ve felt while starting your company?
There’s nothing more exciting for me than considering where a project could go and what it could become. It’s such a fluid process, full of exploration, testing ideas and leveraging other peoples’ skills and abilities. Seeing it come to life is truly rewarding
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Particular entrepreneurs? Music? Video games? Food?
No one person in particular. I tend to draw inspiration from the people immediately around me -being in the design industry, there is no shortage of inspiration.
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowd-funded?
We are self-funded.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Believe in your idea, then test it to make sure other (relevant) people support it – that there’s a market for it. Do your due diligence, try and find objective opinion, and if it still stacks up, then go for it. Following through is the biggest hurdle. There’s plenty of people out there that have wonderful ideas, but very few that follow through with them.
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually put your life on hold and realize yours?
Life has never been on hold. RocketTags has been something we have been working on, on the side, for the last two years. I think this is the only way for a project like this to be sustainable; it needs to bend to you, not the other way around.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
Global domination! A RocketTag in every household… In all seriousness, we are talking with some of the big telecommunications companies about becoming partners, since we have a very relevant product and service to offer them – one which can add value to the customer, that also introduces an additional revenue stream opportunity for the business (the RocketTags system is a subscription model).
In 5 years (and much sooner!), we would hope to have established some meaningful long-term relationships with corporate partners throughout the world.
What’s your largest satisfaction in business life?
Seeing something you’ve worked so hard on for the last two years receive the attention and support that we experienced at the recent INPEX Innovations trade show in Pittsburgh, USA. The highlight of that was being awarded a gold award in the international category.
Where can our readers get a hold of you?