When Blake Sohn’s dog Emma bolted after a squirrel one afternoon and never came back, he became acutely aware of the risk every pet owner faces on a daily basis.
Thing is, Emma’s tags still reflected her old address, and Sohn was literally just moving into a new residence the day she left. While Emma was eventually recovered, the experience moved Sohn to take a closer look at an aspect of our existence that is big and broken: lost and found.
“People will always be losing things…we’re only human,” he says. “But what can we do to ease the pain and increase recovery rates using technology?” he began to wonder.
A creative thinker with a background in product marketing, Sohn pursued an approach that would ultimately apply to more than just dog tags.
18 months in the making, FinderCodes is going to market this week with a holistic lost and found antidote combining QR code ID tags and mobile applications into a ‘personal asset recovery system’. The FinderCodes system retails for $24.99 and purchasers register the unique QR tags (keychain, sticker, iron-on) online before affixing them to any item of value that could potentially be lost — pets, laptops, luggage, phones, clothing, etc.
If the item happens to be lost and found by someone, presumably a considerate person with both a smartphone and the wherewithal to scan a QR code, FinderCodes can alert the owner of recovery and approximate location. Both the owner and the finders identity are cloaked by default, while still allowing them to communicate with each other back and forth until they ultimately decide to share personal information or schedule a connection.
“It’s about maintaining current contact information on your important stuff at all times. Update in one place and all your FinderCodes are tied in,” says FinderCodes CEO John Valiton. “There’s hundreds of thousands of valuable items lost on an annual basis in the US alone.”
The company already has two big partnerships in place — one with AT&T on co-branding and another with FedEx for a ‘rapid return’ feature whereby a finder can easily ship someone’s lost items back to them for free at the closest FedEx location.
Findercodes has previously raised $300k in seed capital from angel investors and has 12 employees, half of which are working in downtown Minneapolis. Their distribution strategy will rely predominantly on mass retailers, as the seven piece product line is shipping this week, beginning with Office Depot, although potential buyers can also place orders online directly through FinderCodes.com.
While FinderCodes isn’t the only company pursuing a lost and found fix, Valiton is confident that they have the best all around technology and will win on brand recognition plus partnerships — with more on that to come.
“Seeing your products sitting on the shelf is always nice, but it’s even better when they’re flying off,” Valiton says with zeal.