Chicago Tech Startup: Found In Town

May 8, 2012 | By | Add a Comment

Found In Town is a community-based platform for advertising and retrieving items left behind at the site’s network of nightclubs and bars. TINC Magazine recently caught up with the company’s founder, Zach Haller, to find out more:

TINC: How many businesses are in Found in Town’s network? How do the bars and nightclubs in the network benefit from using Found In Town? 

Zach Haller: We are finalizing a new interface that will cycle in a total of nine bars and restaurants, who will benefit in several ways: keychain advertising, building rapport with their customers who they’re providing a lost device recovery service to, and building a loyalty base with their users through their FiT mailing list. The new site will be ready very soon. Stay tuned!

TINC: What is the process for registering a found item? How long does it generally take?

ZH: Reporting a found item is quick and easy. The finder enters the FiT serial number on the lost item’s tag, provides their contact information if they’re comfortable, and leaves a short message for the item’s owner informing them of their item’s whereabouts. This can take less than a minute.

TINC: Your site mentions that after a user registers, they are given stickers with FiT codes to attach to their personal effects, which will aid in the recovery of the objects via Found In Town in the event that they are lost. Can users use Found In Town to recover items that do not have FiT codes? 

ZH: We are building a lost and found forum where site visitors can report lost items that were not tagged. This will be live later this year.

TINC: If a user’s item is found and they receive their anonymous email notifying them of the item’s discovery, what happens next? How does the user physically get their item back? 

ZH: That should be included in the message the finder sends to the owner of the lost item. It should be specific instructions like “Your phone was returned to the manager at Halsted’s Bar & Grill” or “Your keys were left in a taxi. Call 1-800-555-1234 to coordinate pickup”.

TINC: What has the feedback been, so far? Are there any great success stories using this system? 

ZH: The feedback has been very positive. When new people hear of it, the most common response is, why hasn’t this been done yet? TimeOut Chicago wrote a piece about the program in which the writer deliberately lost his tagged items. After 24 hours, 1 out of the 6 items of his was returned. That is the only person who has come forward with a success story to date. I can’t monitor what messages are transmitted, so the only way I will know if something works is if someone volunteers feedback. It should be a busy summer for Found in Town though, so hopefully more success stories will emerge over the next few months.

TINC: How does Found in Town plan to get the word out about this new system? 

ZH: Things have been bubbling on social media and at local events since January, but we are starting a concentrated marketing program this summer. There will be more content from us online, as well as some brand ambassadors out and about teaching new users about the service and helping them get activated.

TINC: Found in Town is a free service now. What’s your revenue model? 

ZH: Despite benefitting an end user, Found in Town’s service is provided as a marketing function to businesses interested in providing a lost and found recovery function. Our service is sold to businesses, and provided to their customers.

The following information about Found in Town comes from the Chicago Startup Catalog:

Funding Level: Pre-A Series (no external funding)
Industry Type: General Consumer
Employment Size: 1-10
Founder: Zach Haller
Founding Date: 2011

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