I’ve known Derek Handley and his family for a long time, since a young group of entrepreneurs won the NZ Wireless Data Forum’s mobile app competition (I was President at the time, helped conceive and judge it) many many years ago with a concept of a mobile gambling app where fans could make bets with each other at a sporting match (which would have been a winner if it wasn’t for monopolies and gambling laws at the time) and formed The Hyperfactory. I had the pleasure of watching them (from a distance) develop some amazing campaigns, sell, create Snakk Media and get involved in many other projects.
Some of the most exciting ideas they had didn’t happen for various reasons, which is all part of the game of being an entrepreneur, but in others they were true pioneers. What I most admired about them was that they had true grit and passion for their work and for making a difference. I remember visiting their offices many times in the early days and I can tell you that they really put in the hours and obstacles were just stepping stones. While I was trying to support entrepreneurs, they were changing the future, from New Zealand.
Obviously New Zealand got too small very quickly and they had to go to the USA so they could scale and find the real money, but they never lost their passion for making a better future.
I was delighted to see stories in the NZ Herald and Stuff this week about their new venture Magpie which is about a really low cost solution for tracking everything from your keys to more important things like your favorite guitars or other items that don’t feature communications.
As you know I a very passionate about GPS tracking and have written dozens of blogs and curated dozens of stories on the topic over the years. About 4 years ago I seriously considered setting up a distribution business for tracking solutions, but I didn’t have the capital to scale quickly and didn’t really feel many of the products or systems I saw were well suited to the needs of my target markets.
The closest to Magpie is probably Tile, but it is Bluetooth based and requires a critical mass of mobile phones running the app in order to locate the missing item, so for example, if someone stole a guitar, you could only locate it if it was within 10 meters of a mobile phone running the app. Probably a good proposition in large urban environments, if that’s where your lost item ends up, but otherwise, for example in a country like New Zealand, I wasn’t convinced the mass of users were there. I know a lot of geeks in New Zealand and I haven’t come across anyone who has a Tile and they are the early adopters.
I emailed Tile and asked them about New Zealand. To their credit they responded very quickly, but it was the company line of millions of devices in loads of countries.
So when I found out about the Magpie Kickstarter campaign, I didn’t hesitate to put some money in the pot and pre-purchase some units, because I know that these guys know how to make something like this work. I have no idea what their harvest plan is, but I absolutely love their model, both the product concept and the purchase model. So does everyone else given they got 400% of the funding they were chasing in under 3 days.
I’ll be watching this with interest. I spend a lot of my time thinking about changing the future, these are the sort of people that make the future and make the world a better place. I recommend you watch this space