We’ve all been there, running late, completely stressed out and searching for the keys that always seem to vanish at the most inconvenient moment. Nick Evans says he has a tiny invention that will make all our lives easier by helping make sure we never lose our keys again.
Evans’ invention is about 1/4 the size of a post-it note but he believes it’s packed with innovative technology that will make his company millions. We wanted to learn more about it (and find our keys) so CNBC gave Evans 60 seconds to convince you and the Power Pitch panelists his small idea has what it takes to find enormous success. Click the video and see for yourself.
Tile to the rescue?
"Tile is the world's largest lost and found ... basically thousands of people are helping you find your keys instead of just you," Evans said.
At the heart of Tile’s business is a little white plastic tile that users can attach to the stuff they think they might lose like keys, a knapsack, wallet, purse or even the dog’s collar. The lightweight piece of plastic is packed with some pretty complicated technology that’s engineered so you can track it with an iPhone as long it’s within 50 to 150 feet.
Evans explained that range can be expanded when the app taps other users to create a virtual search party.
“Every other Tile user is extending your range,” Evans told CNBC. “That means basically thousands of people are helping you find your keys instead of just you. This all happens silently in the background. Every other Tile user is tracking everybody else's tiles and will send the owner of the tile its location so you can open the app and see where all your stuff is.”
“Power Pitch” host Mandy Drury had concerns about privacy. "Is there any possibility at all that those other Tile users might be able to find your keys first?" Evans responded that only the owner of the tile can see information about his or her own tile's location, even though other tiles may be helping locate that owner's tile. “We’re not storing anyone’s location data, just the location data of other tiles,” Evans explained.
"I feel like there's several competitors on the market. You know I can walk into Brookstone or open up the SkyMall or even the Apple iPhone has ‘Find my iPhone’ built in," Power Pitch panelist David Wu of Maveron pointed out.
Evans debuted Tile on a crowdfunding site called Selfstarter, and he presold 180,000 tiles to 50,000 subscribers during the month long campaign. He said he attributes the product's popularity to its simple design and ease of use. "A lot of people forget to concentrate on those areas and they are the most important things," said Evans.
But panelist Byron Deeter, of Bessemer Venture Partners, expressed concerns about profitability. "Consumer product growth margins can be brutal sometimes," he said.
Evan boasts Tile has currently sold more than 450,000 tiles to 125,000 subscribers and will be sending its first shipment in early 2014. Each tile costs $18.95 and lasts one year, and Evans is banking on a subscription model with yearly reorders.
Right now, Tile is only compatible with Apple devices running Bluetooth 4.0, which includes the iPhone 5 and 4S. "We're waiting for Google and the Android team to really pick up the pace on Bluetooth low energy ... once that's in place we'll be able to build out a Tile for Android devices,” Evans told CNBC.
The company raised $200,000 from Tandem Capital and sold more than $2.6 million in pre-orders on its month-long Selfstarter campaign this past summer.
And after his 60-second “Power Pitch” both Wu and Deeter decided to take out their check books. They can’t reveal the exact amount of their investment quite yet, but both guys say they are officially “IN” on Tile.
See Nick Evans @thenickevans deliver a 60-second “Power Pitch” that inspires David Wu, a venture partner at Maveron @maveron, and Byron Deeter@bdeeter, of Bessemer Venture Partners, to show him the money. The host of “Power Pitch” is CNBC’s Mandy Drury @mandycnbc.
--Additional reporting by Joanna Weinstein
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- Nick Evans