Q&A with RewardTag co-founder and CEO Brian Nichols
RewardTag is a digital tagging service that allows customers to track and retrieve lost devices. The Los Angeles-based company was founded in May, 2010.
SUB: Briefly describe the concept behind RewardTag. How does it work?
Nichols: RewardTag is a service that gets lost valuable devices back to the rightful owner. Our high quality tags digitally connect a personal message, promised cash reward, and contact information directly to the device through a unique ID number. All too often, people lose valuable items that are not only expensive, but also carry irreplaceable data. More times than one might think, the finders of these items want to return them, but don’t have the necessary information to do it. Attach a label that makes it easy for the finder to return it, plus promise a reward, and you’re way more likely to get that device back.
SUB: How many RewardTag customers do you currently have?
Nichols: One of our markets is individual customers online, of which we have around 400 customers. Another customer of ours is businesses who buy RewardTag labels for their employees, to put on company issued devices, of which we are in the process of selling in bulk to eight companies—ranging from small, local businesses to huge corporations.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competitors?
Nichols: Our main competitors have been around since the early 2000s, and include bigger brands like www.stuffbak.com, www.boomerangit.com and www.lostfoundreturned.com. We are different in a number of ways. They are subscription based, never let the owner and finder communicate, and don’t offer cash rewards.
SUB: How are you marketing the service?
Nichols: Right now we are doing social media marketing for exposure and customer service, selling on group buying sites (jasmere.com, tippr.com, eversave.com and buywithme.com) for exposure and cash flow, just now implementing an online affiliate program for other sites to drive customers to our site…this is all e-commerce. So far, our ROI from group buying has been the most effective here.
We are working on partnering with device companies and device case companies, like Speck, to sell our product with theirs.
We are working with a consumer electronic distribution company to get our product shelved at stores like Best Buy.
As I mentioned, we are working on selling tags in bulk to businesses.
SUB: When was the company founded, and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Nichols: The company was founded in May, 2010. The first thing we did was set it up as an LLC through a family friend that’s a lawyer.
SUB: What was the “aha” moment when you figured out you had something with the product that became RewardTag?
Nichols: I came up with the concept behind RewardTag in July 2009 after partaking in the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain with my brother. He took amazing pictures of all the action, and a few days later, lost his camera. We realized that even if it were found, it would never make it back to us and we’d lose those pictures forever. Then, my friend and I found a camera while I was in Spain, and randomly happened to know the girl who owned the camera. She sent us cash in return for mailing the camera back to her. AHA!
SUB: What have some of the challenges you’ve faced been to this point in building RewardTag?
Nichols: The biggest problem we had was finding the right computer designer and programmer for the site. Because we didn’t have much money to get it built, we needed to find a programmer who would build the site for a percentage of ownership in the company and no up-front payment. After a long search, we finally found one.
SUB: Have you raised outside funding to this point? Do you plan to raise some in the near future?
Nichols: No, we’ve had offers for small contributions in exchange for equity, but rejected them. Our up-front costs were so minimal that it wasn’t worth giving up ownership in the company. When we are looking to expand down the road, it is much more likely that we’ll be interested in funding.
SUB: Where do you see RewardTag in a year from now?
Nichols: We see RewardTag on shelves at electronic stores like Best Buy and Radio Shack, on over 100,000 company-issued devices and sold with device companies or device case companies like Canon or Speck.
SUB: Finally, a question I always ask—as an entrepreneur who has weathered the bad economy, what advice do you have for entrepreneurs just starting out now?
Nichols: Most people say “it’s never a good time to become an entrepreneur.” However, fortunately for my business partner and I, this was actually a great time to become entrepreneurs. Danny Coorsh, the other co-founder, is 20-years-old and still a student at the University of California. I just graduated from USC in May and finished my master’s in December—so the majority of our business was started while we were still students.
RewardTag – www.rewardtag.com