BOUNTE is a cloud-based smartphone app that uses geolocation and AI image recognition to record, log and track lost items.
Founded in 2017, BOUNTE recently unveiled barcoded, trackable bags for improved hygiene and security amid COVID-19.
What is your 30-second pitch to investors?
The lost and found has long been a chore and a burden on multiple departments, and hotels haven’t given this guest service proper attention. Yet fumbling with lost-and-found results in low ratings, loss of loyalty and negative online reviews.
BOUNTE is a cloud-based smartphone app that uses geolocation and AI image recognition to record, log and track lost items. Each item is stored in a barcoded, trackable BOUNTE Protect bag and sealed for hygiene and security, and a return shipping wizard handles labeling. BOUNTE contributes to a greatly enhanced guest experience and provides brand distinction.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.
BOUNTE was launched to solve three key problems the travel industry has with lost and founds: poor customer experience, staff frustration and operational inefficiency. BOUNTE also addresses the need for automated processes for reduced staffing and new health and safety standards triggered by COVID-19.
Using cutting-edge technology such as AI and the cloud, BOUNTE offers a unique software as a service (SaaS) business capable of quickly scaling to address all those challenges.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.
- Strengths: BOUNTE leadership has a proven track record applying modern technologies (AI, cloud, mobile) to solve business problems. BOUNTE’s technical platform incorporates carefully selected technologies capable of leapfrogging rivals and providing inherent nimble solutions. BOUNTE’s customers become instant fans with the app’s easy-to-use technology and fast time-to-proficiency.
- Weakness: Relatively new to the hotel and travel industry, the BOUNTE brand needs more visibility and awareness. COVID-19 has introduced additional marketing challenges.
- Opportunities: Hotel guests lose a lot of things. Hotels find, on average, 10 items per occupied room each year – watches and jewelry, laptops and smartphones and sentimental items. BOUNTE’s market potential is large and goes beyond hotels. BOUNTE is a great fit for airports, airlines, casinos, convention centers, car rental companies, ride-sharing services, commuter rail or buses, stadiums, ballparks, theaters – plus hospitals or schools. Any venue can benefit from the highly scalable BOUNTE.
In addition, BOUNTE’s innovations can be leveraged to solve other back-of-the-house challenges in the travel and hospitality industry. Emerging technologies and the adoption of touchless priorities will provide BOUNTE with additional momentum.
- Threats: COVID has put a tremendous level of pressure on the industry on so many levels. A threat to BOUNTE would be the reluctance to prioritize and adopt new lost-and-found technology. We believe this is the right time to modernize and prepare for recovery; however, regaining employees and leaders will take precedence at some hotels.
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?
For guests and passengers, leaving an item behind is a frustrating and chaotic situation that leads to a poor customer experience. TSA reports 100,000 items left behind each month in United States airports. A typical hotel will collect 10 items per room per year. That’s a lot of items to be found and stored somewhere, creating three pain points: poor customer experience, staff frustration and operational inefficiency.
Add COVID-19 to the mix, and venues now need to address clean and safety procedures for collecting, storing and returning these items. BOUNTE’s AI technology, cloud-based platform and BOUNTE Protect bag work together to solve all these problems.
So you've got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?
The hospitality and travel industries heavily rely on advocacy and trust within the community. The BOUNTE platform is used by luxury, boutique and budget hotels alike, and general managers who have tried BOUNTE are excited and willing to advocate and promote our product.
Revenue sharing between BOUNTE and the hotel turns an operational cost-center into a revenue driver while also reducing operating costs. Using BOUNTE is an opportunity to modernize, reduce costs and create a revenue stream.
Tell us what process you've gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.
There are more than 54,000 U.S. hotels. More than half – 54% – of travelers say they leave items behind, creating a large a lost-and-found inventory that hotels must handle. Managing a lost and found manually with spreadsheets or using old, legacy systems adds unnecessary costs.
The industry’s push to provide positive traveler experiences and adopt new safety and cleaning initiatives with cost-effective solutions will also drive the adoption of BOUNTE among hotels and other travel-related venues.
How and when will you make money?
The BOUNTE system, launched in 2019, is provided at no charge to hotels. BOUNTE generates revenue from returned item shipping fees. The introduction of BOUNTE Protect bags will generate additional revenue as the industry adopts enhanced cleaning programs. Time-to-proficiency is quick, and the adoption rate of the technology has been encouraging.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team?
Stephen Sinclair, founder and CEO, is an experienced, high-energy executive, innovator and team-builder with significant financial and capital markets knowledge. He also is a successful software developer and entrepreneur. He honed his technology leadership and management skills while working as CTO for 15 years at Performance Trust Capital Partners, where he delivered technical and business solutions in a fast-moving, demanding financial services environment. He has a bachelor of science degree in finance and investments from Babson College. He has certifications in artificial intelligence from Stanford University and the University of Michigan.
How have you addressed diversity and inclusion within your business?
We provide an inclusive environment for team members, business partners and clients. We recognize hard work and entrepreneurial spirit and celebrate diverse backgrounds and the unique qualities of every individual.
What's been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?
Introducing transformational technology to an industry focused on daily make-or-break issues presents strategic challenges. However, we believe this is the best time to incorporate AI-based technologies to reduce workload and operational costs and position the hotel for the coming market rebound. Seeing a demonstration of BOUNTE immediately reinforces that perspective.
Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact - so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?
It’s not “business as usual” in travel and hospitality. Travel is seeing major shifts in priorities and strategy. Today’s environment presents an incredible opportunity for startups providing services to this industry. Newer and more nimble technical providers are leveraging modern technology and data ecosystems to define a digital renaissance for the entire industry. BOUNTE’s unique app, alongside its AI-based technology, is only the beginning of a line of services to address the travel industry’s challenges. The rate at which BOUNTE can innovate will be a key contributor to its success.
A year from now, what state do you think your startup will be in?
2021 sets up a high-growth trajectory for BOUNTE. With projected rebounds in travel and BOUNTE’s ability to move into many types of venues along with the transportation, education and healthcare markets, BOUNTE will develop many opportunities for expansion. Double-digit adoption growth in a tough year as hotels find this to be a opportune time to identify technologies to streamline the back-of-the-house operations.
What is your end-game? (Going public, acquisition, growing and staying private, etc.)
The industry for innovative lost-and-found technology extends to many industries. Wherever there is a guest or visitor, there is a lost-and-found problem. The total serviceable market for BOUNTE is very large and will be enough for public and acquisition opportunities.
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