- January 5, 2011
- Posted by: Brandon Matheson
- Category: Santa Barbara Entrepreneur
In mid-2009, I partnered with 3 engineering grads from UCSB to launch Phone Halo (now operating as TrackR) with the vision of using mobile technology to prevent loss of valuables. Today, the company has broken records in crowdfunding, cash flow positive, developing partnerships, and growing a core team. The following is a visual and video chronology of the highlights of the company design and launch along with some valuable lessons each step of the way. This glimpse is focused on the brand, marketing, and product launch and does not address other areas we developed during this time including investor relations, legal structure, and engineering development.
Please note that this was condensed from approximately 1500 emails and 200 photos and videos.
2nd Quarter 2009: Pictured above are Tyler Crain, Christian Smith, Chris Herbert and myself Jacques Habra. I met the trio in late 2008 at the UCSB TMP program as a mentor and helped the team develop the business presentation and pitch. This photo was taken moments before Phone Halo (formerly Pro.Found and now TrackR) won the 2009 UCSB New Venture Competition.
“As they say, advice is cheap, but mentorship is worth its weight in gold.” – Amy Errett
3rd Quarter 2009: We formed Phone Halo in the Summer of 2009. My principle function as interim CEO was to establish the brand and launch the company. This all begins with a name and Pro.Found needed an upgrade. I presented a few names and we all agreed Phone Halo was the brand that embodied the engineering and technology most completely. A few of the initial design and branding strategies are above.
“Logos and branding are so important. In a big part of the world, people cannot read French or English–but are great in remembering signs”
– Karl Lagerfeld
Our final logo and identity deliverable:
4th Quarter 2009: Phone Halo (TrackR) was not the only company in development in the Noospheric incubator. During this period, several other companies, including SBClick (sold to SBAxxess in 2012), Brush Buddy, and ChartMedica were launched. The benefits of all company leaders coming together regularly was very valuable. We met every week for about 6 months for breakfast and talked about our progress, challenges, and goals. A terrific way to develop our immediate community and improve the larger ecosystem.
“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.”
– Napoleon Hill
1st Quarter 2010: The Phone Halo buzz was growing by the week as we prepared for our formal launch. The media featured Phone Halo numerous times and none more significant than this full page feature in the prestigious Santa Barbara Magazine.
“If I was down to the last dollar of my marketing budget I’d spend it on PR!” – Bill Gates
One of our first prototypes in the background next to the only competitor at the time (Zomm). Now there are several competitors, but none with the software as service model like Phone Halo.
With distributors, investors, and potential partners circling, it was time to formally launch. My thanks to Matt Stotts – one of our advisors – for recommending to launch at the competitive DEMO conference. In front of a packed house of 2000 live attendees and thousands more watching via simulcast, we gave our 6 minute DEMO. I think we practiced this about 150 times.
“There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.”
– Dale Carnegie
I have been honored several times in my career and winning DEMOGod along with Chris and Christian was quite unique. Probably so because I did my part on a torn achilles tendon suffered 3 weeks prior. There was no way there would be time to get the surgery and present without crutches. (You can see me limping up to the stage in this video)
“I love those who can smile in trouble…” – Leonardo da Vinci
Startups are tough. You’re constantly dealing with challenges, people doubting you, investors often saying NO. So, you must keep it light and humorous. Fortunately, Chris and Christian were not only smart, creative engineers as well as aspiring businessmen, but also charming, entertaining guys. In this video, a few hours after our DEMO, Christian conducts a “sort of” impromptu interview.
This photo captures our Karaoke version of “Always Something There to Remind Me” which was our company theme song… yes, I have a video. No, I won’t post it.
“Startups are a lot of work. Make sure you’re having fun.” – Jacques Habra
“Promise, large promise, is the soul of an Advertisement.” – Dr Samuel Johnson
In September 2010, in large part due to a medical situation, I began to unwind by active management role at Phone Halo. Noospheric – my startup incubator – remains the 3rd largest owner in Phone Halo (TrackR). TrackR has raised over a $1MM in crowdfunding campaigns and continues to innovate and improve its technology. We wish the current management team success in all regards.