TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based TurlyTag, a luggage tagging technology and tracking service.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
I am serial entrepreneur that started in the service industry with perishable, physical goods, and evolved to focus more and more on technology.
During the dot-com boom I was a restaurant consultant and restaurateur catering to many of the now-defunct tech startups in NYC. My Tribeca restaurant, Bubby’s, is still humming along and run by my ex-partner, Ron Silver.
I left NYC after 9/11 and started a mobile tech support company when I couldn’t find someone to work on my mac. This was pre genius bar. It was a small success, scaling was a challenge.
TurlyTag is the culmination of my work delivering Identity Theft and Data breach services to the Insurance marketplace. I saw a real need to address the human side of Identity Theft and solve the problem of lost and found.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
This project started as a side project that I worked on nights and weekends. Completely self funded for the first 12 months until I decided to leave my position at IDT911.com. I raised a small friends and family round. Total investment so far is about 75,000.
What problem are you trying to solve?
TurlyTag is looking to solve the problem of lost and found. We lose a massive amount of personal items every day. One out of every seven gadgets sold will be lost.
This is a huge challenge on many fronts, from the financial impact of replacement, the aggravation of the inconvenience and the exposure from a PII (Personal Identifying Information), PCI (Personal Credit Information) and PHI (Personal Health Information) perspective.
At this point in time a pure technological solution is impractical. Size, range, cost and energy requirements make RFID, GPS and wireless an incomplete solution. The Internet of things is coming but not here yet. TurlyTag wants to be there to solve this problem with the right tool at the right time, evolving with technology as it advances.
Describe the business, core products and services?
The TurlyTag system is expert service that handles the identification and logistics required to get back personal valuables and valued possessions when they are lost and found, maintaining the owner’s privacy throughout the process.
TurlyTag’s ID system provides secure ID tags for technical devices such as PDAs, laptops, mobile phones, cameras, headphones, e-readers, and other valuables such as keys, luggage, purses, sports equipment, backpacks and the like.
TurlyTag also provides proactive support when a user loses one of their possessions.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Our first customers came from our beta signup list and from a small group of our Facebook’s likes. So far we have had no cancellations.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Yes, but I think this is something we could have done a better job at. If I could do it again, I would build custom landing pages and run ppc ads to track conversion.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
TurlyTag is primarily a B2C service that is utilizing a recurring revenue model. While PPA and PPC advertising is one of the tactics we will continue to use, our main focus is on co-branding and partner relationships to grow to profitability.
Truthfully there is a lot of data that we will only be able to see after 6-12 months. For example:
- Conversion rates for the different marketing channels.
- Lifetime customer value.
- Rate of growth,
- Key customer, etc.
Much of this is still speculation until we have enough traction to fully assess.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Large market, growing problem, customer service and privacy expertise, simple delivery.
- No IP to protect, existing competition. Customers don’t know they need this. Hard to advertise.
- Untapped aging boomer market. Clothing tags for children.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- New technology that doesn’t exist yet. A competitor with more funding.
I would have to say there was no one person that tried to talk me out of this. Which could mean that I needed more exposure earlier. Half the challenge of being an entrepreneur is knowing when to stick to your guns and defend your idea and when to listen to advice.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
Our success metric is 1,000 paying customers buy June of 2012. We want to be able to nurture each and every one of our customers over the next year. Their feedback will be critical to our long-term success.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.