Have you ever lost something and frantically looked for it? A key? Had your bike stolen? Your dog escaped and is roaming the neighbourhood? Worry no more – Vienna-based startup Locca has developed a tracker to end the constant searching. Earlier this month, the team and their “smallest and smartest tracking system in the world” won the third hy! Berlin startup competition, and a prize worth 100.000 euros. To break it down, they received 30.000 euros from German telecommunication-incubator hub:raum, another 20.000 euros worth of Google Cloud services, a PR workshop and tax consulting as well as a trip to Silicon Valley and an office in Berlin, CEO Julian Breitenecker told inventures.eu.
When Breitenecker lost his son on a playground during a vacation in Tel Aviv, he swore to invent something that would keep parents from the “most terrible 15 minutes” of their lives. After working on the concept for six months, followed by 18 months of development and finding investors, Breitenecker and his partner Albert Fellner founded Locca at the end of 2012, and introduced a match-sized device that can be tracked via smartphone application or web. Put it on your keychain, your dog’s collar, your bike, your car, and yes, even your infant, and locate them via GPS and Wi-Fi on your smartphone or tablet.
The hy! Berlin competition focused on future-oriented products and new and innovative players from the startup scene. More than 150 experts, pioneers, and investors attended the three-day event from 2-4 June to discuss the digitisation of the European economy. Out of more than 400 startups, a select five finalists pitched their ideas to the three-person jury consisting of YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim, Skimlinks CEO Alicia Navarro, and Ballou PR owner Colette Ballou.
Locca’s competitors were reportedly Atooma from Italy, an Android application that defines situations for smartphones, as in – a smartphone would know to automatically switch to silent mode when its owner enters his office. Ukrainian startup Petcube introduced a device equipped with a camera, a laser pointer, and a microphone that plays with your pet when you are not at home. Two finalists represented Israel – Vubooo, an application for football fans who can share their enthusiasm online, and JoyTunes, an interactive video game similar to Guitar Hero, controlled by real instruments and a tablet that determines whether the player hit the right tunes. The three jurors focused on factors such as design, the team, marketing strategies and market potential, and eventually chose Locca as the winner.
Two Locca products willbe available for delivery as of this coming September. Whereas LoccaMini is best suitablefor objects, bikes, and animals, LoccaPhone was developed to be used with infants. Both devices can be used worldwide and will be sold for 100 euros plus an additional monthly SIM-charge that has yet to be announced. But Breitenecker’s plans for the future don’t stop there. By the beginning of July and prior to the production process, the team will launch a crowdfunding campaign on the startup’s official website. Afterwards, a campaign financed by media4equity – a partner company – will promote Locca in Austria and Germany before expanding throughout Europe.
The trip to Silicon Valley will be used to prepare them for the expansion to the United States. “We have already received requests from several US companies,” Breitenecker said, “besides, I can’t wait to go there.” Yet, the team doesn’t plan on moving their Vienna-based office. “I don’t think it matters where a startup is based, whether a cottage in the woods or Silicon Valley,” Breitenecker said, “as long as you’re willing to travel and work hard, you can be successful anywhere.”
Further down the line, the startup will use the money from the hy! Berlin prize to finance a new concept – “something completely new for bikes”, which was as much as Breitenecker could tell us at this point. Stay tuned for more!