Blame it on the dog. When Blake Sohn moved to a new house in Minneapolis, his dog–still wearing tags with the old address–ran away. Sohn, a marketing exec, was eventually reunited with his pet. But the experience led him to develop FinderCodes, a QR-code-based system of waterproof and tear-resistant stick-on labels for items like key chains, laptops, phones and, yes, dog tags.
A stranger who finds a dog (or anything else) with a FinderCodes tag can scan the code with a smartphone. The owner is automatically sent a text or e-mail notifying them that their item has been found and where it is. Then the two parties can arrange to make the exchange.For nonliving items, FinderCodes employs FedEx’s Re-TurnIt program to provide anonymous shipping back to the owner–all a finder has to do is take the lost object to a FedEx store, and the owner pays a discounted shipping rate. So far this no-friction return system has resulted in more than 1,300 people being reunited with their stuff.
Created with funds put up by Sohn and his CEO, serial entrepreneur John Valiton, the system garnered a design and engineering award honorarium at last winter’s Consumer Electronics Show, on the heels of securing $400,000 from angel investors.
So far 2013 has been a breakout year for FinderCodes, thanks to retail agreements with Office Depot, Target, Walmart Canada and Costco that have the company on track to bring in more than $6 million in sales by year’s end.