Issue 28

Tintag - Internet of Things startup à la Cluj

Mircea Vădan
Managing Partner @ Activize Cofounder @ClujStartups


During the last year, I forgot my tablet in various places at least 3 times (in the supermarket, in restaurants, at events) - luckily I recovered it quite quickly every time. One of my phones is still in Bulgaria somewhere, it had fallen from my pocket. With the wallet there’s no problem: I forget it at home all the time, this way I know for sure where it is. Let me be clear about all these: I’m not forgetful! Perhaps, a little careless, but I’d rather prefer to think it happens to anyone, anytime and anywhere.

As a proof, Andrei Alexandru and Chis Vig told me they had the same problem, just that they do not have to make a mess out of the whole room to find their keys, but they’re using now Tintag, a device invented by them that comes with an app for iPhone (Android version is in the works).

More specific: Tintag helps you find things almost lost (in the future, even those lost forever!?!). Simply attach the device (it has the size of a coin) as a keychain to an object, pet or other items. In the smartphone application, you can set a range (1 to 50 meters) and the new Tintag will send a signal to your smartphone if it is taken out of this range. In addition, you can see the distance to that Tintag device.

It works the other way around as well: if you lost your smartphone, but you have a Tintag device around you, just click on it and the smartphone will start to vibrate and ring (provided it is within range, of course).

Sounds quite simple, right? Errr, not really: the two co-founders have been working on this idea for more than a year now, along with 4 other employees. Both Andrei and Alex have almost 10 years of experience in IT and tracking devices and, as a team, they have been working together for several years already, they began with outsourcing, but meanwhile they have also developed their own products.

After some serious thought, the founders decided not to seek investors, but instead they created a crowdfunding campaign, also with the aim of getting market validation. Actually, a really good thought: if potential users do not want to support the campaign, then there is no point to continue. The Indiegogo campaign was launched on September 7th and just 31 days later they reached their proposed amount: $50,000 from 1,200 funders (mostly in Romania, USA and Canada). The campaign continues for another month, so it can reach the amount of 100 thousand dollars, thus having more resources to develop other product features. The prototypes will be delivered in November and their improved version in April, next year.

Regarding the technical implementation, the biggest challenges were related to devices size and parts combination, more specifically positioning them so that the range is not affected.

Tintag uses BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) technology, operating on a frequency of 2.4 GHz. The next challenges for them were to obtain the CE and FCC certifications, to deliver the prototypes to backers and finding a reliable supplier to scale up the device production. If the campaign will get to $150,000, they will even think about opening their own production line.

Future device versions will provide the opportunity for customization (various lights and sounds, adding accessories), the SDK will be released to other developers and they even consider the use of the device as a panic button (when pressed, it sends a default alert/message to someone). And that's not all: in the future, the device will send a signal to any smartphone in its range that has the Tintag application installed, which in turn will send information to Tintag servers and you'll find out where the lost/stolen object was detected.

PCB prototyping machine

By the way, another suggestion: Tintag for forgotten passwords - many would need/use such a device :-)

Related to their campaign on Indiegogo, you can read bellow some good tips, coming directly from Andrei and Alex:

Of course, there is competition, I assume you've already thought of Tile ($15,8 million in investments), only that once Tile's battery is empty it can be thrown away as it would be no longer possible to use. Well, Tintag is the only rechargeable device of this type. After 6 hours of charging, the battery lasts for four months.

Tintag is among the local pioneers in at least two areas: hardware product and crowdfunding, their campaign being among the first successful campaigns on Indiegogo with a Romanian product. I’m really glad to see that it was initiated in Cluj and I hope to see other local projects following this successful path.

PS: In the meantime, until I get my ordered Tintag devices, if you see a tablet with a sticker "I love startups", please contact me, it is likely that I have forgotten it somewhere.



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