Featured Startup Pitch: Utilizing tags, email, and text messaging, Bungee is creating a virtual lost-and-found
Founders: Bryan Davis and AJ Bontempo
Headquarters: New York City
Year Founded: 2008
Brief Company Description: Bungee allows users to anonymously link property to their cell phone and email so that if it’s lost, it’s easily returned.
# # #
Have you ever lost a mobile phone, keys, sunglasses or a digital camera? Most of us have and now there is a solution that anonymously facilitates the safe return of lost valuables. Bungee: Virtual Lost+Found is a new product that allows owners to anonymously tag valuable property and link it to their cell phone and email. If an item is found, the tag instructs the finder to send a simple text message and Bungee works instantly to place the owner and finder in a live conversation so that a retrieval can be arranged immediately. In the case of a missing cell phone, Bungee also works through email. The owner’s personal information (phone number/email address) is kept completely secure. While the website has not officially launched yet—it will in about one month—if people log on to to the company’s Indiegogo campaign they can purchase four lifetime coverage plans for $50. The regular cost is $25 per coverage. The campaign can be found here—www.indiegogo.com/bungee.
Bungee was founded by me, Bryan Davis, and my business partner and friend, AJ Bontempo. Both of us are into cool ideas and are also serial entrepreneurs. We live in New York and have been great friends since we worked on our first project together in 2004: a nightclub/performance space called The Darklight. We have been working together on one thing or another ever since.
AJ is from Toms River, New Jersey, and is a graduate of Towson State University where he played football and majored in Business. He is an Italian food connoisseur, makes his living in the restaurant business and has co-founded two places in New York City (www.cottanyc.com, www.thedinernyc.com). He is working to open Carroll Place, a restaurant/live music venue in the Summer of 2013.
I am a graduate of Brown University where I played JV hockey. I hail from St. Louis, Missouri. I am a former restaurant/nightclub operator whose brush with fame came when I opened a restaurant in Miami Beach with Lil Jon, Lil Wayne, and Big Boi, among others. I currently DJ in New York City to pay the bills and fund my many projects.
We have been working on Bungee for the past few years and working toward an official launch. A couple of years ago, we thought we had our big break when the product was licensed to a marketer who was going to sell it on TV. The project was abandoned because, according to the marketer, “not enough people are using text messaging.” My how times have changed!
Some of our ‘aha’ moments happened when…
In February 2008: After designing a keychain, we wanted to add an ‘if found drop in the mailbox’ feature. One of us said to the other, “I wonder if this could be done with a text message.” The idea didn’t seem too far-fetched, and programming and production began.
New Years Eve 2009 (This thing works!): Before Bungee had been named and put on anything other than keys, I purposely lost my keys in the middle of Manhattan on the busiest and wildest night of the year. While at a New Year’s Eve celebration, I received a text at around 1 a.m. and had my keys in my hand a few minutes later.
Beta: We sent out 400 beta tag packs to friends and family and have had several real life losses and returns. In addition, the two of us took a cross country road trip losing things in several cities, filming the returns and interviewing the finders. We have been ‘losing’ items on purpose all over New York City, and have consistently had a return rate of about 75-80 percent.
Today: After launching a campaign on Indiegogo to help raise money to move forward with marketing and awareness, we decided that we needed to lose one thing a day to prove beyond a doubt that Bungee works and people are really honest. You can check out the videos here: www.indiegogo.com/bungee?c=activity
We plan to market the company in a number of ways. Initially, PR will play a big role in getting the word out. One of the plans is to launch a campaign that encourages people to put their cities to the test to see just how honest the people from ‘ENTER CITY NAME HERE’ really are. AJ and I have proven it over and over again in cities including New York, Cleveland, Palm Beach, Happy Valley, Chicago, and many more. Now it is time to take the show on the road and put the technology into the hands of the people that will actually be relying on the service.
Because everybody over a certain age carries (at a minimum) keys, a wallet, and a cellphone, the marketplace for Bungee is vast. There are several different lost and found concierge services in the space. Most of them work via an 800-number reporting system or via a website portal. Major players are Stuffbak, Boomerangit, and Okoban. Existing companies are targeting corporate America, look like asset tags, and are positioned as products for squares (hehehe). By making a more aesthetically minded product and using technology that skews younger, Bungee intends to target the 18-to-35 market.
How We Differentiate from the Competition
The easier it is to do the right thing, the more likely a person will take action: Bungee differentiates itself from traditional/existing services because its proprietary system is activated by sending a simple text message and puts the owner and finder in direct live anonymous conversation. It is the simplicity, speed, and direct live conversation which makes Bungee different and innovative.
The Bungee business model is simple and the service is available to consumers through the company’s website. Each pack includes 11 Bungeetags, including a wallet card, key tag, and sun/eyeglasses tag. Service availability includes—one year of coverage, $10 or lifetime coverage, $25. Both plans include unlimited retrievals and the lifetime coverage plan includes free Bungeetags every two years (S/H fee applied to new tags).
In addition to the sale of the product online, the company will also partner with retailers to market the product at POS/check out.
The team has also designed the technology as a white label system. Insurance companies striving to drive down the cost of lost item claims, corporations seeking to improve loss prevention strategies, OEMs looking to add an additional layer of service and security, and many others will benefit from Bungee. We are currently working on licensing terms for this aspect of their business strategy.
Bungee is currently looking to raise $10,000 via a campaign on Indiegogo (http://www.indiegogo.com/bungee). That money will be used to finish the online user interface, perfect the email and text message systems, order the first large shipment of Bungeetags, and further launch Bungee into orbit. In addition, the money we raise will also help prepare the company for another Angel round of funding, which will help get us to a Series A round.
Bungee – www.bungeetags.com